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The launch of the Government’s new ‘Stay Alert’ slogan prompted a huge debate across the communications industry. Some liked it, some didn’t. Whatever your personal view, it’s healthy for our industry to have honest debate and different perspectives shared.

by Shavaun Glen

It seemed like the communications profession grew exponentially during Sunday. If my Twitter timeline was to be believed, the Government has got its messaging, slogan and delivery all wrong.

Few proffered what has been proven to work. Not surprising, given this is the first time the UK has ever been locked down due to a global pandemic.

Many reasoned and reasonable explanations popped into my feed: the art and science of message development, the signals that certain colours and combinations send, the influence on public expectations by media coverage leading up to the PMs announcement, and the mood of the country given the period of lockdown, weather and VE celebrations.

If I didn’t feel confused before reading the reactions on Twitter, I was now.

Like many of the protagonists, I believe it is important to build trust through clear, consistent and transparent communications. Equally, I cannot rationally believe that the Government and its communications advisors set out to deliberately do their worst work at the most important time in our country. 

The thing is, we all want to be right.

We each bring our lived experience, political bias, knowledge, expectations, and a whole lot more to every interaction we have. It is hard to part company with our deeply held beliefs and values.

If this is true, then it means we cannot all be right. It also doesn’t mean that we are all wrong. The alternative is, we are all different.

Does this mean that you can’t or shouldn’t?

  • work together for a greater good, even if you think and want to believe that others aren’t?

  • unite behind a Government that probably does want to save lives, even if you didn’t vote for them?

  • be critical of your opponents and peers, but still be kind?

I am consciously aware that not everyone will agree with my view. That is okay. But hopefully through our differences, we can ensure these communications work, even more than individually wanting to be right.

Shavaun Glen is director of Seen and Heard Communications. You can say hello on Twitter at @ShavaunGlen

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Image via Artotem

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