So yesterday The Sun saw fit to publish an article attacking public sector communicators. It was the usual from a Freedom of Information request that will have been sent to all police forces, local authorities and NHS bodies. We get them a lot from a whole range of different groups usually who want to decry any communication work.
To start with my problem is that the figures don’t stack up. There is no common structure for communication teams and the figures are not comparing like with like. Some will have included all communication roles others just the PR element of what they do. It makes any comparison null and void.
My biggest issue is the lack of understanding of what goes on with public sector communicators. I would say almost 100 per cent of what I do is to support operational policing. If it isn’t then why am I doing it. I can’t justify anything classes as fluff.
Yes we do try different things. Yes some of it may be more lighthearted but always at the centre is an operational imperative.
The article doesn’t talk about the work done to help victims of crime or to help find offenders. It doesn’t mention the work to improve public contact or make the police more accessible. It fails to recognise the day-to-say reality of life in public sector communication teams. In the past six years we have reduced by 35 per cent and the workload like that of frontline colleagues has continued to increase.
I spent a large amount of last year dealing with the communication issues related to a major terror attack on my city. Just like those working in the local authority, Mayors office and NHS. Unfortunately none of that gets quantified or discussed in the FOI responses.
I am very proud of the work that I do and that I see colleagues do across the public sector. We work away behind the scenes and in difficult circumstances to support the frontline, help victims and keep things functioning.
One final thought is that I would love to see the industry bodies step up and say something to support public sector communicators.
And finally if any reporter from The Sun wants to come and see the reality of what we do then please get in touch and it can be arranged.