It is easy to sit in a communication ivory tower where you decide what to do and then do it. You can be creative and have ideas that will be award-winning. And you can carry on like this for years and years but who really matters to your communication activity?
From my work position there are people that often get forgotten and that is the victims of crime.
I have long said that when we put information out about a crime in an attempt to get people to come forward with information that may help the investigation we are doing it as the temporary custodians of that story. It is not our story and we don’t own the information. We are just looking after it so that we can use our skills to help the victim and their family.
A few years ago I heard Baroness Newlove talk at a conference about her experience and it was incredibly moving. As Victims Commissioner she is trying to use her terrible experiences to help others. What was clear was that anything done from a communication perspective would have significant impact. She and her family needed to be aware of what was happening and know where they could go if they needed support or advice.
It is too easy to say we are the communication professionals and know what is best. It is too easy to become caught up in the investigation and to forget the people going through the traumatic event. It is too easy to think let’s get this appeal out and make it sound a particular way so that we can get maximum coverage.
We may have to do all these things but we must do them with the support of the victim at the forefront of our minds.
You may wonder what this means for those working in communication outside the emergency services. The key is to think of your customers or service users. We lump them together as one amorphous group when there is a lot to be gained by remembering they are individuals.