So it’s another great week for Guernsey. The government has announced that phase 5 of the lockdown exit process will commence next Saturday (20 June) and we’ll be pretty much back to normal.
But among all the (deserved) celebration about how well we, as a community, have done to get through this crisis, it shouldn’t be forgotten that some have suffered enormously on a personal level and the economy has been severely impacted.
This week the States of Guernsey set out its recovery strategy – “Revive and Thrive” – and one part in particular will have stood out to any communicator.
The vision for the strategy is not solely economic, it factors in how we can build a better society in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic:
We will work in partnership to recover our economic prosperity, build on our inclusive community values and capitalise on our many strengths to make Guernsey a safe haven based on sustaining health, wealth and community.
The principle of communications
The vision is clear and ambitious, but what really caught my eye, as a communications professional, was that ‘Clear and Transparent Communication’ is named as one of the ten principles that underpins the whole strategy.
Comms professionals have been preaching the importance of comms to successfully executing broader strategies forever (of course we have!), so it’s great to see the role comms can play be given due prominence in the States’ strategy:
Communication must be clear, transparent and based on fact. It must give stakeholders the information they need, when they need it, in an easily understood format and via accessible channels.
Comms should be a consideration for any strategy rolled out by any organisation – private or public, international or local, profit-driven or third sector – but why?
- It allows you to share good news – obviously the only way that most people will know what your oganisation is doing well is if you tell them about it. If you have a plan for your business then communicating it demonstrates your ambition, that you are organised, and that you are goal-driven.
- It keeps stakeholders up to date – most organisations don’t have the same level of accountability as a government does, but all organisations have stakeholders. Proactively communicating with them about the things your business is doing to impact them means they feel informed.
- It gets buy-in – a related point, but when stakeholders are informed they’re more likely to buy in to what you’re trying to do and believe in it. Bring your stakeholders along on your strategic journey and you’ll find that the path is a lot smoother than it would be if they were kept in the dark.
- It measures your success – comms activity can be measured and this can be a barometer of the overall success of your strategy. How many website hits did you get on that news story? How many users shared your social media posts? How was your stakeholders’ behaviour changed by what and how you communicated? All of these considerations can be used to assess whether your strategy is paying off or whether a change in tack is needed.
- It improves your reputation – PR is a promotional channel for your business. Communicating what you’re doing well and telling your organisation’s story improves your reputation and ultimately wins business, achieves goals and improves the bottom line.
The States of Guernsey has, in recent months, reaped the benefits of including communication as part of its strategic thinking (my colleague Lindsey outlines exactly how in her recent blog). Islanders bought in to the lockdown restrictions en masse because everyone was clear on what was being asked of us and why.
The coronavirus pandemic is an extreme example of needing to affect behaviour change quickly, but its lessons shouldn’t be ignored as you sit back at your desk (your actual desk, not your kitchen table/converted dressing table/sofa) and begin to work out what’s next for your organisation. Comms shouldn’t be a strategic afterthought, it should be an imperative and a means of success.