Since the pandemic began, UK public sector organisations have been in crisis response to deliver public services safely and protect society’s most vulnerable, relying on technology to do so. For some organisations this has meant communications strategies have fallen by the wayside – with devastating consequences.
We have already witnessed communications teams at the forefront of the COVID response, playing a key role to amplify public health messaging, reassure communities and support employees as they transition to remote ways of working. The value in investing and developing in communications is paramount.
The world has changed irrevocably in the last year and is still changing. Public sector organisations must continue to change their modes of communications as we enter different stages of the pandemic. At any time, there could be a third wave, further local lockdowns and rising community tensions. Therefore, it’s essential that strategies are flexible to support employees, maintain business continuity and deliver seamless public services.
This is not the time to halt your communications strategy; it’s time to take steps to develop further, provide a better user experience and plan for all possible outcomes.
Evaluate and enhance the citizen journey
At the start of the pandemic, public sector organisations made knee-jerk reactions to facilitate what citizens needed. Website messages were changed to access information more readily, and new technologies were implemented to ensure communications were fast and secure. These changes were immediate, simply out of necessity to keep citizens safe.
Over a year on, citizen safety remains the priority, yet decisions are being made strategically based on lessons learnt from the first lockdown and months thereafter. It’s clear that COVID-19 has changed the behaviours of citizens. It’s down to organisations to identify how by evaluating the touch-point areas and channels of the citizen journey and explore innovative ways technology could satisfy their evolving needs. This is no easy task, but it’s imperative to establish a future-proof communication strategy.
Build better communications using better technology
COVID-19 has demanded public sector organisations move away from legacy systems once and for all and look to modern technologies to run processes, store data securely and drive efficient interactions with citizens and staff. Building a cohesive digital ecosystem that works seamlessly across the customer journey is fundamental to helping organisations understand their omni-channel communications strategies. One consolidated system built with leading technologies provides a solid foundation for delivery infrastructure and the means to effectively communicate in a modern world. Doing so also fills any gaps in customer communications at the same time, because all data and interactions are managed in one system and easily accessible by staff from remote locations.
Don’t lose momentum with your communications
Frontline service delivery has been a priority for government and the public sector, and as the pandemic continues, delivering these services is even more critical. However, focussing on the continuation of life-line services in such a challenging and uncertain climate has meant many public sector organisations have taken their eye off their communication strategy – at the detriment to citizens and employees.
In a digital age, it’s communications that bridges the connection between citizens and public services. It’s communications that’s needed to ensure the right messages you need to get across are received and understood. It’s communications (open and consistent) that builds trust and enhances citizen experiences. And all of these communications are driven almost entirely by your services and interactions with citizens online, underpinned by innovative technology systems.
It’s the responsibility of the public sector to reinvent the digital experience and be prepared for the post-COVID landscape by applying agile digital technologies and communication strategies.
Take control – the time is now
From a communications perspective, the pandemic has revealed the extent of which our society relies on our ability to communicate - and communicate well. This has been a lifeline for the public sector and, as we navigate the future, this will not change. Public sector organisations should use this window of opportunity to develop communication strategies that are fit and flexible enough for the new world – and the inevitable challenges that come with it.
To read more about this topic read our ‘How to Communicate in a Crisis’ blog.