Being open and transparent is at the centre of ethical PR and communication work. It is talked about a lot and particularly at the moment as we have all been dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic.
Effective crisis communication has to be transparent and honest to build confidence in what is being said and done. But how do we create this transparency? And are there ways that we can build barriers with transparency?
It may sound a bit odd to say that transparency can create a barrier but it depends on how we are using it. If we are reducing communication in other ways at a time when we are creating something we believe is transparent the end result is more closed communication. I have been thinking about this in relation to the Government’s plan for a daily Presidential style press conference and what it may mean to communication.
The move could be really positive if it is really part of ways to improve and develop open Government. It is a chance to share information and to answer questions about the issues of the day. Alongside existing communication this could be part of a way to increase accessibility. Perhaps it could even increase the interest and focus on decision making and politics.
But, and this is a really big but, if it is introduced in place of other communication, and becomes the sole and main focal point for the activity it can very quickly become a barrier to transparency. It reduces access to decision makers and can limit the amount of information that is released. This means less transparency and more artificial soundbites.
In my book Crisis Communication Strategies I talk about how vital honest and open communication is in building confidence. Confidence that will be essential during the crisis but also will build a strong recovery. This openness comes from real engagement, listening and responding. It cannot come from carefully scripted and worded briefings.
It will be interesting to see how this develops in the coming weeks. Will we be in a world of America-style press conferences and Twitter statements? Or could there be increased access to Government and decision-making in a post-Covid world?
What do you think of the move to Presidential-style daily briefings? Will they increase transparent communication?