COVID COMMS #4: Hope and how to feel it


I was involved in a WhatsApp discussion in a group I’m in on the need to build hope in a time of crisis.

Hope is the thing that keeps people walking towards the bright light at the end of the tunnel.

Sure, public sector communications needs to warn and inform and do all of those really things. But I’ve been reflecting for a while that if all it does is warn and inform without hope people will switch off.

In Britain in the Second World War, the Mass Observation project captured what people were really thinking.  The results shaped public policy and its communications. Historians have used them to comprehensively debunk the popular idea of the blitz spirit.

What are people thinking now?

Fear in part but a grudging acceptance of the normal.

We are through the first phase of covid-19 communications and need to establish what the second phase looks like. The first phase was warning posters and a request to ‘stay safe, save lives, protect the NHS.’ Phase two needs to be human. But they need to come from people rather than politicians. We can feel hope and we can recognise it when we see it. We can’t be told to hope on demand by a politician.

If my postman and the nurse who lives in my street gives me hope then I’ll feel hope too.

Picture credit: Flickr / Documerica 



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