A year ago I wrote an article for PR Week looking at the predictions for 2018 and it is interesting to reflect now and assess what happened. When I wrote it I was still trying to come to terms with what had been a traumatic 2017 that had made me question many things.
There were three key challenges for the public sector communicators that I identified. They were:
- To manage the impact of resourcing challenges on resilience and wellbeing
- To move from internal communication to employee engagement
- To demonstrate the value of communication to frontline operations
The trio continue to be issues for communicators although we have moved forward in some ways.
First things first, we have made some steps forward in recognising the importance of wellbeing in the workplace. We have started to openly discuss the issues of mental health and the impact our work can have on us. But there is so much more to do. Many young in service PR people try to be invincible and don’t want to show anything that could be perceived as a weakness.
I have spoken quite openly and blogged many times about my own challenges around resilience and wellbeing. There are some times that my mind still works against me like last night when I replayed the whole week’s events in my dream. What is important now is that we continue the conversation and give people the training and support they need.
Secondly, was the need to move from internal communication to employee engagement in the future. This was identified as an opportunity for communicators to move into a more strategic position. There have been some steps forward but much more is required. The past 12 months have seen some public sector communicators being pushed to be tactical at the expense of the strategic because it is easier to achieve with limited resources. We continue to talk about being around the top table but often don’t take the opportunities to develop the business and help us reach that spot.
Finally, I said the focus had to be on showing the impact comms can have on the frontline of the business. This is the most important thing and if we can’t do it then we can’t justify our position as a key function. I still aim to do this every day and to banish the vanity projects that can drain the communication function of resources. There have been some achievements including the initiative that quantified the cost saving that communication can have when operated effectively (
I ended the article saying
“despite all the challenges I feel positive about the role of comms in public sector organisations in 2018”
I still feel positive for the work ahead in this new year. We have a chance to deal with all three. We have a chance to do a bit more, learn a bit more, and evaluate a bit more. With all the uncertainty in the world around us PR and communication can come into its own making people feel reassured, relaxed and confident. Only we can make the difference.