EURO CHANGE: Embracing chaos calmly and six things post-#euroref for comms people

24539503395_e776784dc2_bYou may be happy with the EU Referendum result or you may be devastated. Either way this will change things for you as a comms or PR person.

You may find your job under threat or you may find your job disappeared. You may find a new post created as a result of it.

The truth is that it’s too early to tell how this is going to play out.

In the immediate aftermath, talking with Mrs Slee this morning I was reminded by the line from Robert Phillips’ book ‘Trust Me: PR is Dead.’ It is simply this:

‘Embrace chaos.’

The line troubled me slightly and when we staged an event with him in Birmingham a while back I asked him what he meant.

He just meant that everything is uncertain. Everything is changing. The internet has undermined many certainties and created new ones. Accept it and try and work with it. It’s advice we’ve repeated to teams several times. To embrace the chaos of change in the comms landscape is to realise that new skills are needed and to know that nothing is fixed.

It’s a bold line.

You are free to disregard it.

But Adam Buxton, the comedian, writer and actor, said that good ideas keep coming back and re-presenting themselves. Bad ones don’t. That line keeps returning for me.

But change could take shape in different ways.

Politically restricted 

Many comms people in the public sector are in ‘politically restricted’ posts. In layman’s terms that means that they are able to be members of a political party but they can’ty express public positions or campaign. This is how it should be. After eight years of this in local government it made life much easier.

But sitting on your hands and shouting at the telly can be difficult. I know this. I’m pitching a session at commscamp on July 14 to let public sector talk about this in a safe space. If you are going do come along.

Ripping up your plans

There’s every chance your best laid plans could be in tatters. The organisation’s business objectives could have taken an overnight lurch somewhere new. As difficult as this sounds, this is a chance to put your foot in the door to help shape whatever new comes. Review what you do.

Be straight, a cut is a cut

There’s a conversation that I had with someone who knows someone who processes EU grants for community groups. The liklihood is they will be at best under threat. But just as austerity has led to services stopping I’d counsel to steer clear of weasel-words like ‘efficiencies.’ A cut is a cut. If it’s stopping, say so.But do it factually and without finger pointing.

Know what you can and can’t say 

With a new landscape, there’s a chance people in the public sector will be under renewed pressure to say more than they can. The easy answer is don’t. But be prapared. Check your constitution to see what you are allowed to say. Check the document that governs what you do. Have those relevant passages cut, pasted, saved and circulated.

Don’t stop learning, you

I’ve banged on about the pace of change for a long time and the need to learn new things to keep your skills honed. The impact of the EU Referendum hasn’t slowed this down. If anything it’s made the need quicken.

Be excellent to each other

I’ve been reminded in my timeline that many people are feeling worried. Sometimes this has been fear of the unknown. Sometimes, almost unbelievably, this has been abuse in the streets. Thios may sound like vaguely hippy wisdom but the need to be excellent to each other has never been greater.

Look after yourself.

Picture credit: Christoph G / Flickr


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  1. Great Post… thankyou Dan.. a good reminder to boldly embrace change as it is continual and brings new opportunities if we have the courage to look in other directions.

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