Priti Patel was the latest politician to give comms a kicking this week, over a modestly paid social media role with Dorset Police. The usual ‘non job’ stuff we’ve seen for years. Sigh. But is there still more that we can do to prove our worth?
by an anonymous guest blogger
Public sector communicators are an easy target and are seen as public property. It is the usual ‘I pay your wages’ approach to criticising what they do. It is, therefore, not surprising that the new Home Secretary has decided to take a shot at them. She could easily do the same for anyone working in administrative functions like finance, legal or any other support departments.
There has been a speedy response from the CIPR and other senior people in the comms world to defend their public sector colleagues. It is good to see but perhaps there is a little more to the situation. Why is communications the target again?
I am a public sector communicator and I have seen people doing work that has no consequence. It is work that may be done just because someone senior has asked for it to happen. In the past it has been work that is done just to spend some money before the end of the financial year. We may try to deny this happens, but I have seen it and even in recent years.
There is also the issue of evaluation.
It is a challenge for PR and communication in every sector but in the public sector we haven’t always dealt with this. We do a lot of talking about it but how many of us have actually been able to show the real impact of our work?
So, back to police comms. The police service is putting a lot of effort in developing evidenced based policing. Instead of doing things because they feel right it is about getting the data and analysis that will prove something works. Perhaps that is something we should focus on more as public sector communicators.
If we cannot see a benefit to the core of the business, then why are we doing it? If we cannot articulate what the money spent is bringing to the service, then we are not in a position to defend spending money on communication jobs.
This week’s attack will not be the last that we see on public sector communicators so perhaps now is the right time to ensure we are better able to demonstrate what we deliver to our front-line services.
Image via Tullio Saba