Recovery not ‘freedom day’

It was inevitable that at some point we would get to this position. A point where the Government are trying to move from the pandemic crisis into recovery and the much heralded ‘return to normal’. We all remember those times when we would just go out and meet friends, do the daily commute to the office, and feel comfortable in crowds. But that all changed in March 2020 and two years later we need to do much more than talk about ‘freedom day’.

Covid-19 was always used as a political football when really it is a public health crisis and decisions should be made for the right reasons. They should not be made to further someone’s political career. The big issue I have with the announcements today is that it presents the view that everything is over and people no longer need to be concerned about Covid-19. It also appears that there is either Covid caution or total freedom when really there should be a balance in between.

Recovery needs a clear plan in the same way that crisis planning is undertaken. For communicators this is the same, recovery communication is not often talked about but is more complex and challenging than the initial response to the crisis. I am concerned that in the rush to move ahead and back to ‘normal’ we may miss out this vital stage in the crisis management process. We should have planned our way into the crisis and we must certainly plan our way out.

Leaving a crisis and moving towards recovery can only be done when people feel the time is right. The problem at the moment is that there is a 50/50 split and many people have concerns about what the future may hold. This could all have been handled better. If people had been listened to and involved in the discussions about restrictions, if they had been trusted to understand what was happening, and if they helped to develop the way forward. Crisis communication needs to move quickly from broadcasting information to engaging with communities and this is a step the Government have never taken.

The past two years cannot be wiped away with a few Government announcements. They have had an impact on our lives and how we work. They have impacted on our mental health and wellbeing. For many, many people they have changed their families as they have lost loved ones during the pandemic. This is something we can never forget, and nor should we. This is definitely not over so what are the next steps for communicators? I have five points:

  1. We all need to take a look at how we personally manage risk, and also to be clear of the personally responsibility that we need to take.
  2. Understand the impact that the past two years has had on your business and your workforce.
  3. Develop a recovery communication plan that will help the business, staff and others move forward
  4. Consider the points in the future which may have a negative impact on people – these trigger points need to be managed carefully by communicators
  5. Be ready for the future whether that is a new Covid variant, another pandemic or another crisis.
This entry was posted in challenge, communication, Covid-19, crisis communication, internal communication, PR and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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