The reason why

People go to work for all kinds of reasons and get many different things from the experience. All are equally valid whether it is to put food on the table or to help others it doesn’t matter. These things are always personal.

This weekend I was struck by social media posts by two different members of the team. I will name check them as it is well deserved – Hannah Daykin and Rosie Arnold. They were both reflecting on what they had done at work last week.

In short t was another busy and stretched week both for policing and for the comms team. Why do we do it when the pay and conditions could be better and the pressure seems to grow on a daily basis? Hannah and Rosie answered that with their experiences.

Hannah had helped share information about a gang that had been jailed and spent a cold and wet day at the weekend with the m dis interviewing an officer who had jumped in a river to rescue a man. Rosie had been with officers on early morning drug raids and had seen the dedication, commitment and professionalism.

On a separate occasion this week the team put out CCTV that lead to an array and charge and all because someone saw the media coverage. That is why we do what we do because it makes a difference.

I have written many times both in this blog and other places about how proud I am of the team and that I am honoured to be part of this team. I have also said that we may not have a lot of money or resources but we have a passion, commitment and determination.

I try and say thank you to the team as often as I can for the work they do often in challenging situations. I work with amazing people who do amazing things every day. So once again thank you to the team for all the work you do.

*If you would like to be part of the team we have a couple of vacancies at the moment, just check them out at

Posted in challenge, communication, crime, police, policing, PR, work | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

More that unites

I was nervous and apprehensive about attending my first PRCA Council meeting this week. It was stepping into the unknown which is always slightly stressful and uncomfortable.

The room would be full of people from all areas of the PR and communication business. There were people from agencies and in-house roles, those working for the private and public sector. People were independent practitioners, working in big business, assisting charities and had a whole host of responsibilities.

It would seem that we would find little common ground as we came from such diverse backgrounds, roles and experiences.

The world of PR and communication is broad and expansive. People are doing things now that could not have been thought of some years ago. We are in an era when everyone is connected, where more messages are shared every day and where broadcasting is something everyone can do.

Despite all these differences the Council meeting proved that we have more that unites us than we realise. At the heart we are all wrestling with similar problems and challenges. We are all looking for training, support and guidance. And all those at the meeting wanted to help shape the future of the profession.

Being a communicator can often be a very isolating role. We see a lot, know a lot and are told a lot. There often is little time to stop and look around, and to connect with other communicators.

I am honoured to be part of the PRCA Council and to have a chance to discuss the important issues affecting PR and communication with colleagues from across all parts of the profession. We have more that unites us than we think. It was a long trip back home but well worth it and there is more to come about this work.

Posted in challenge, communication, PR, prca, work | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

When incidents happen

I have been talking a lot about crisis communication and the key principles. For me it doesn’t matter whether it is an operational or reputational crisis the approach should be the same.

This week I was delighted to be part of the Corporate Communication conference in London this week and to be able to talk about things to remember when the worst happens. My final comment was if you remember nothing else remember that policies and procedures are worth nothing if you don’t remember people.

I have been watching the developing issues for Oxfam and it raises a number of questions. First how open is open? They believed they had provided the relevant information when the issue came to light but now realise they could have been more open. What did they do for the people who were affected at the time? This doesn’t seem to have been answered. What structure was in place to manage the issue from its emergence through to the conclusions the investigation?

Oxfam have outlined what they have done and changed since this incident and that is good. How much more could they do to increase confidence in the situation that exists today?

Finally what media training have key spokespeople had? I saw in one interview with Newsnight a representative appearing to smile when being asked challenging questions about the situation.

As professional communicators we have to be ready to meet a crisis no matter when, where or how it happens. We have to be able to advise the organisation about the appropriate response raising any concerns we have. We have to ensure key spokespeople are ready and trained to respond.

The important thing is never to focus only on reputation as that leads to poor decisions and potentially perverse behaviour. It is about doing what is right and having the right response out of that will come reputation management.

The past couple of days are a reminder for all of us about what we should do and the role we have to play when incidents arise.

Posted in challenge, communication, conferences, crisis communication, emergency services, PR | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

A century old struggle

It is 100 years ago today that women finally got the vote. A small and select bunch of women at least. The moment has made me reflect and question how far we have come as a society since then.

I was lucky that in the 1970s my parents brought me up knowing that I could do whatever I wanted. There was no gender issue. If I had wanted to do a role traditionally seen as a women’s role I know I would have had the same support as if I had wanted to do the opposite.

My upbringing was one where I felt able at primary school to challenge my teachers because I wanted to play football and be on the school team. They let me do it even though I proved I would make a better sports reporter than player!

When I went into my chosen career first as a journalist and then into PR my gender was never an issue. At least not to me and the majority of employers although back in the day I remember interviews where I was asked if I was going to start a family and more worryingly how far I would be prepared to go to get a story.

Almost 19 years ago that work took me into the police and as an ambitious young (ish) person I raised and few eyebrows if I challenged senior police officers who back then were usually men.

But for as many incidents and issues I faced there were many more supporters and people encouraging me onwards.

The world has moved on positively in lots of ways but there is still a long, long way to go. I see evidence of sexism around me everyday in society. I see young girls feeling boxed into certain roles and behaving in a particular way. I still see too few women in senior positions in organisations and in leadership roles across the PR profession.

It is disappointing that we still have to fight for equal pay, need a women in PR organisation, and have to discuss the lack of women in boardrooms.

One hundred years ago the battles may have been more fundamental and about what we see as basic human rights but the work is far from over. I hope that we can continue to show the spirit those courageous women a century ago had and challenge and make changes that improve the situation for future generations of women.

Posted in challenge, communication, PR, women | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Reflections on the challenge of resilience

Two years ago today while I was at the start of my a blog a day challenge I wrote about the importance of developing resilience. ( I wanted to look back from this position of facing eight months when I have been pushed to the limits.

If you are a regular reader of his blog you will appreciate how important I think resilience is for all PR and communication people. It is what keeps us well, fit and ready for action. All too often we believe we are indestructible and can keep going no matter what. I have learnt that this is simply not the case.

So, I highlighted six things that I felt were essential to build resilience. They were:

1. A strong support network including both family and friends

2. Support from the team around you at work

3. A clear role and purpose to the work you are doing

4. Honest and useful feedback about what you are doing

5. Time to recover and spend time doing something that makes you smile

6. The ability to step back and take a detached look at things

I think all these things are still really important and I have relied on them quite heavily in recent months. But the key to resilience has to come from within. In 2016 I hadn’t given the need for inner strength quite the focus that it really needs to have for resilience to exist.

How we respond to situations that we face is really down to us and while other people can assist the future lies in our own hands. It links to our views and beliefs about the world around us and our place in it.

We need to be constantly working on our minds and thoughts. It means finding ways to build strength and to keep our thoughts in check. The more we do this in the times when we are not facing extreme pressure then the better able we will be to respond.

I have worked hard on dealing with my thoughts over recent years and I know that I have benefitted. Without these efforts I would have been in a worse place.

Two years ago I said communicators needed to get training and support to build resilience. Today it is probably even more important and yet we are still not talking about it. It has to change.

Posted in challenge, communication, crisis communication, PR, resilience, work | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Time to stand tall

I started this blog a week ago but with so much going on to challenge my thinking it has taken until now before I felt able to finish it.

We are heading into another year and I have been reading a lot in articles, blogs and opinion pieces about it being the time for PR and communication to come forward and shine. It is something I have said myself in a previous blog. If all those commentaries are to be believed then what is holding us back?

In the world of public sector communication I have my own views based on what I see and experience every day. But I wanted to get the views of others and I put a question out on social media. I am really grateful to everyone who took the time to give me their views and share their thoughts.

The message was clear resilience and the ability to influence are the significant challenges for public sector communicators. The pressure on resilience comes from a lack of resources, everyone feeling they know and can ‘do communication’ and the problem of taking work home.

This exhaustion means people don’t have the energy to put into educating people about the role of communication and to show that involving comms professionals and listening to their advice is not optional.

I have been in a number of situations this week that have presented me with similar issues. When you are under pressure it is difficult to remain focused on what you want to do and what matters. Ultimately we lose confidence and fade into the background to avoid facing any challenge.

The whole PR and communication industry has a tendency to look introspectively when faced with a challenge, issue or problem. I can’t remember ever seeing accountants have a crisis of confidence when they face the end of the tax year? Other professions have a confidence in what they do. We don’t have the confidence to stand tall knowing what we deliver and how it contributes to the business.

As Alex Aiken head of Government communication said in a tweet we need to ‘keep focus where you can have greatest impact for the organisation’. If we know what works and why, can articulate the activity and what it will deliver and are committed to demonstrating professional standards we can have confidence.

The blogs and articles are right this is a time when communicators can come to the fore and shine. The key for us all, and particularly those in public sector communication, is to put ourselves in the best place so that we can have a confidence at work.

Posted in challenge, communication, PR, tweet, work | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

One from the bucket list

As a teenage activist there was one place that I longed to visit, see or be linked to and that was the London School of Economics. The famed LSE appeared on University Challenge alongside those Oxbridge institutions. It always had people who looked as though they didn’t conform who were studying interesting subjects.

My studies never took me there. I think I would have been too intimidated to believe I could ever be part of that educational Goliath.

You can imagine my surprise when last year I was approached to be a guest speaker on a postgraduate media and communication course. I said yes in an instant after all it is the only way I would ever get to be associated with the illustrious institution.

Today was the day when I had to stand up and speak. I admit to being so nervous that I could have easily been sick. I had made myself worse on the long train journey down. I never think of myself as remotely academic as I have avoided education for many years (except my Chartered PR assessment). How can I stand up in front of those people and talk about the industry?

All I could do was cling to what I know from personal experience of living and breathing PR and communication for more than 20 years. I will wait for the feedback to find out whether that was enough.

One thing is clear as I slowly relax from all that stress and tension. I have achieved something and ticked one thing off my bucket list. I have been to the LSE, seen it, smelled it and touched it. I can be content.

Posted in communication, learning, PR | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment