Well lockdown has certainly been a time for us to reflect and make adjustments in our lives. One comms head shares her own largest lessons…
by Louisa Dean
I was honoured, but also rather embarrassed, to feature in the first #LockdownLaudations from Darren Caveney.
Embarrassed because as a PR person, I never like to shout about what I am doing, I am just doing my job. During a recent phone call with him, he reminded me of all the good work I’ve led on and empowered my team to deliver since this crisis began. He said I should share me lessons.
So, here are the seven things I have learnt about me and my team during the lockdown (to be honest I think I knew them already but here goes)
Teamwork – Every single one of the comms team has pulled together and delivered in really difficult and challenging circumstances. We’ve re-recruited some ex-team members back to help and fill gaps. We have a team video call every day and the support is still there even though we are miles apart. They still need to feel like a team and bounce ideas off each other and still have those moments of laughter, despite the physical distance between us.
Innovation and new skills – I manage The Guildhall in Windsor and our sales and events officer has created a new podcast to promote the famous building. We’ve had some advance bookings for next year as a result of the podcast. My web team are working flat out to update the website as well as manage a new customer engagement project. They are learning new skills at home and then having to train other staff to use it too, no easy task.
Wellbeing – Wellbeing is always important but never has it been as important as it is right now. We’ve produced a ‘Wellbeing Wednesday’ newsletter that goes out at 11am – it actively encourages staff to stop working and have a short break to read it. Staff love it and we’ve received more comments than the normal staff bulletin.
Berkshire’s council comms teams are the best – This crisis has shown that we council comms teams across the county have a strong relationship. We’ve been supporting each other, for example when we’ve had to deal with the awful news of a death of a colleague. We’ve also used our chats to sound out new ideas in a safe space – we all know how important it is to get the message right.
We work well in a crisis – I think most councils recognise this. Our council has recently completed a piece of work around values and what came out in these discussions was that this council performs really well in a crisis. I can vouch for that. The council has collectively rolled up its sleeves and got on with delivering services to residents. Some things haven’t gone as smoothly as we had hoped but when a resident messages me to thank me for the work we are doing – I know we are heading in the right direction. We know that compliments are often less forthcoming than complaints wherever you work so this really does make a difference to us to know we are getting it right.
Local councillors – They represent our communities and know how to help them and have very localised networks. So, we’re sending daily emails to councillors about what was happening in the borough and which they have shared with their own communities. I’ve also listened to their feedback which has helped shaped the comms messaging. They have been so useful in a time when we are relying on digital comms.
My son is fantastic! – Like many of you, I’ve been trying to do home-schooling and completely failed. However, my 12-year-old has been helping me! For example; answering my phone, (I have two mobiles and the computer often all ringing at the same time), sorting out my IT issues. and organised a quiz for my team (a member of the amazing team is leaving – wish Maddie Pinkham luck, she is going back to the NHS). He always knew that I was busy but was taken aback by how many times my phone rang, and has since sent me wellbeing information because he thinks I work too hard!
And finally, Darren’s five words describing me: resilience, dedication, good fun (always smiling), honesty, and loyalty. I recognised all those words and a lot of officers and councillors also recognised it, which was great. It takes someone like Darren to remind you that:
you’re doing a good job
you’re keeping your head above water
you need to be kind to yourself, not only with the hours you are working, but what you manage to achieve
you need to be clear what is inside and outside of your control.
The Lockdown Laudation video gave me such a boost and I want to do the same for others – maybe not a video, but definitely thanking people, and that starts now.
Louisa Dean is head of communications at the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead. You can say hello on Twitter at
You can see more Lockdown Laudations HERE.
Image via Tullio Saba