There is no way of getting away from it – my job is a lot. Especially amidst a global pandemic.
by Shirah Bamber
But, if I’m honest, the variety, complexity and sheer level of puzzle solving gets me out of bed in the morning. Even when everyone else is sitting in the sun for lockdown and I am headed into the office.
Not meaning to trigger age old rivalries, but working for a district council means that I am involved in every area of the council’s business, at one time or another. I can – and have had to, more times than I can count – wax eloquently about housing land supply and then, in the next breath, answer questions about business rates, bin collections or the council’s support for rough sleepers. I am responsible for place marketing, event promotion and heavily involved in business engagement, but that still just scratches the surface. Then of course internal comms is just an addendum. Oh and managing the communications for the unchartered waters of this particular crisis and recovery planning. Sometimes just recounting what my team is involved in and able to achieve in a given week is exhausting.
Don’t get me wrong – I love it. I love my role as dot connector and problem solver. I love finding the right words and translating big ideas into understandable language. I love sharing stories.
However, there are days, days like today, when I cannot hide from the fact that there is always so much more that I (and my team) could do. There are always more ideas lurking, to do lists growing and possibilities left undiscovered because of the very real limitations of time and capacity. More money, more time, more people and we could do more and we could do better.
No wonder there is so much chatter about switching off and mental health for communications professionals right now – how do you do it when you carry around almost everything you need in your pocket? And how, as a high-achieving perfectionist, do you accept that what you have achieved today is enough?
Don’t look at me – I don’t have the answer.
What I do know is that you cannot allow yourself to get lost in the could have, would have and should haves. Because tomorrow there will be more. And it will be just as important, challenging and, very likely, interesting. And I’m pretty sure I know that if you double the size of my team and budget, there would still be a to do list longer than I am tall.
Because communications spans the width and breadth of our organisations. It expands our ability to work in partnership and sharpens our understanding of our residents and communities. It enables us to raise awareness, encourage new behaviours and it helps us deal with "unprecedented crises." Communications is an easy target but, in an era of increasing public expectation and decreasing budgets, it is more valuable than ever.
Just a couple more plates to spin, eh?
Shirah Bamber is head of policy and external relations at Preston City Council. You can say hello on Twitter at @shirah_bamber
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Image via Miroslav Polca