We are always saying that communication is a 24/7 business with social media round-the-clock and rolling news channels. There is lots of discussion about how we can manage this demand with the resources we have and it is no easy thing. There is also the ongoing concern about the ability we have to respond to a crisis when it erupts. Reputations are lost and gained in an instant and brands can fall if they are not swift enough to respond to events.
It surprises me against this backdrop how many businesses, organisations and brands seem to shut down throughout the festive period. The communication support appears to go into a similar hibernation with possibly a skeleton on-call service provided. Don’t get me wrong I am not being a Grinch about this as everyone needs time off to relax, unwind and recharge. The concern I have is about communication and PR being seen as a vital strategic function which we say we want but then may not be demonstrating in our actions.
The choice may be taken out of our hands if there is some form of enforced shut down. But I would suggest we need to argue the importance of communication and ensure that there is some form of support available over the festive period especially when they are normal working days.
For almost 20 years I have been in an emergency service communication department and I know that has its own unique elements. But even before this I was still working throughout the Christmas and New Year period both as a journalist and in my other PR roles. It is something I have come to accept. I can’t say I relish it but I see it as vital to the work we do.
This is actually quite a busy time of the year considering the limited media operation and people slowing down their use of social media. There are often travel issues, weather challenges, sales dilemmas and then there are the New Year’s honours. For public sector communicators there is no let up because their work is about services for people and they don’t stop just because it is Christmas.
I don’t expect everyone has to be in the office but surely we have to have someone available and ready to respond. It means we can deal swiftly with any challenges and also take those opportunities that arise. Businesses and organisations need to recognise the requirement to financially support this to happen, and to see the benefits it brings. It is one part of the jigsaw of getting a seat at the top table by showing the strategic significance of the work we do throughout the year.
I would love to hear people’s views on this and whether my views are clouded by two decades working in the emergency services. Happy New Year everyone.