Let’s get back to basics
As PRs one of the first lessons we learn when starting our careers is the importance of the seven Cs of communication. We’re told that with any messaging it’s important to be clear, concise, concrete, correct, coherent, complete and courteous – it’s a simple, formulaic structure we follow and yet, one the UK Government seems to have overlooked during the current pandemic.
Over the past few weeks, there’s been a lot of talk about the need for clarity from the Government – whether that’s on their new ‘Stay Alert, Control the Virus, Save Lives’ slogan or Dominic Cummings appearing to undermine the original lockdown rules; the messaging has been inconsistent and at times, confusing to the public.
Effective communication should encourage or influence behaviour change. Everything from downloading an app to putting your bins out on a different day – communication should make you take or change a specific action, thought or behaviour.
The government’s new coronavirus recovery plan is a 60-page, three-step strategy for gradually lifting the UK’s lockdown and according to Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, the public “really understand” the government’s new guidance. Addressing the supposed confusion, Hancock argued that concerns about the government’s messaging strategy were “second-order” amid the wider issues brought on by the pandemic.
The reaction on social media tells a different story though, with many redesigned ‘Stay Alert’ messages trending mere hours after the original announcement – often with humorous results:
The way the messaging was broadcast into the public domain by pre-briefing journalists, and the disjointed nature of the rollout, was also criticised by many, with people across the country increasingly taking to social media to continuously air their gripes at the government’s comms approach.
In recent days, trending topics and hashtags on social media, have included: ‘FlounderingBoris’, ‘SackDominicCummings’, ‘CummingsAndGoings’ and ‘CumGate’.