This is quite a momentous time. It is 14 years this week since I became an employee of Greater Manchester Police and took up a senior management position in the then Press and PR department.
A lot has changed since 2001. When I joined there was no social media and the focus was on media relations and spending quite a substantial amount of money on advertising campaigns. Terrorism really wasn’t on the priority list even though we were preparing for the Commonwealth Games held in Manchester in 2002.
The Internet was something we were only just starting to develop and policing itself was very, very different. We were focused on community events, good citizens and communication with staff was definitely still in the command and control era. I seemed to have a lot more time to devote to all my work. It probably didn’t seem it at the time but it was easier to focus on one thing at a time. Probably because things were a bit simpler. Oh and we still were using fax machines and pagers.
I have seen a lot of changes in the 14 years. The team grew and the importance of effective communication went from being something only a few recognised to being understood by most officers and staff. Then five years ago I saw the team reduced substantially, which is something that has continued and looks set to be the case in the future.
Five years ago the drive to do ‘more with less’ was just part of the reason we moved actively into using social media. It was a really important decision and one that has given us five years where we can learn grow and develop the way we use social networks. The team may be much smaller but more information is being provided with a network of trained officers using the new technology.
Communication has moved way beyond command and control, and is now much more complex. The technology has brought some amazing opportunities but has also created a changed communication landscape, one that will never return to where it was in 2001.
The biggest change I have experienced is in my role and the expectations people have of what communication can do. Back in e start of my career I was effectively a media manager that may have dabbled a little bit with internal communication. It was so difficult to take work home that people really needed to speak to me if they tried to speak out of office hours. Now, I am available 24 hours a day and it is easy for people to get in touch. The communication landscape is 24/7 and so it is the same for me and other senior managers. I am also expected to be much more technology expert, staff motivator, content developer, editor, writer, leader, influencer, customer service expert, political mover, service developer and analyst. There are probably many more that I have failed to list.
It may seem that work is in many ways much harder in 2015 than it was 14 years ago. But I love my work more now despite its complexity than I did all those years ago. The opportunities are vast and I want to grab every one of them.