Twelve months ago, I was compelled to write a blog to try and explain the important role that public sector communicators had following a critical article in a national newspaper. (You can read it through this link https://amandacomms1.wordpress.com/2018/01/07/no-fluff-here/) It is the same criticism and challenge that happens on a regular basis for anyone working as a public sector communicator which is to justify the money that is spent on both the work and the individual role.
At the time I was happy to try and explain and put some clarification to the national newspaper article which failed to recognise any of the vital work. I ended it with these words:
“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.”
I was never taken up on that offer which is a shame. But I have been reflecting on these words following an extremely busy move from 2018 to 2019. The events in Manchester ended the holiday break for many public sector communicators working in a whole range of organisations. I spoke to many on both New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
They were there to help explain what had happened. They were there to help people find their way home. They were there to provide reassurance. They were there to help those affected. They were there to support the emergency services workers. They were there for a whole range of reasons.
Unfortunately, all that work and activity has gone largely unnoticed and unrecognised by much of the media. But it demonstrates what I was saying a year ago about the operational nature of public sector communications. My team are focused on helping victims, supporting investigations, helping to reduce crime and assist communities addressing issues.
When there is a crisis, they are there to help. When there is an urgent appeal that needs to go out about a crime they are there. When a person goes missing and we need people to help find them they are there. I could continue with an extensive list, but I won’t. I recently explain some of this recently to PR Week following an initiative that had quantified the impact of communication activity in preventing crime (https://www.prweek.com/article/1496881/comms-cheaper-policing-when-deterring-crime).
This year I will mark 20 years in police communication and I am as proud of the work we do now as I was back in 1999 when I joined Merseyside Police. Someone asked me the other day why I did it and the answer was simple – I want to come home at night and know I will have helped someone. It may sound trite and idealistic, but it is still the truth.