TALES OF COVID: Public sector communication: How was your COVID-19? Tell us, so we can record the stories, content and recollections.

We are launching an independent project for public sector communicators to record their stories and experiences of working to communicate COVID-19. The independent ‘Tales of Covid’ project is being launched to record memories, highs, lows and content during a tough chapter of all our lives. You can contribute.  Kerry Sheehan, UK Government Communication Service, CIPR Board Director and Public Services Group Chair and Dan Slee, digital communications consultant explain how.

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is the biggest global story in generations.

A year ago, as UK national lockdown restrictions were being put on us all, public sector communicators did not know how it would unfold.

12-months later, the public sector communication profession in the UK has been a key component, continually showing its value to the ongoing national, local and regional response day, in, day out.

Communicators undertook the most important and biggest reaching work of their professional lives. The profession further elevated its value and status with decision makers.

To mark the enormous contribution public sector communicators have made to the UK’s national response, nationally, regionally, locally, across government, local government, health, emergency services and agencies – supporting to fight the pandemic on the ground – we would like to put together a collection of anecdotes and stories from UK public service communicators.

The collection, Tales of COVID, will form a commemorative book to mark the year of those first national lockdown restrictions, which would catapult our profession into the front line like never before. A time when there wasn’t a playbook and a time when our profession came together as collaborative partners like never before.

Tales of COVID will also serve as an historic record on the vital part public sector communicators have all played in the UK’s national response.

We truly believe it is important to document our experiences as communicators, those who threw all their mite behind fighting the virus whilst the world was brought to a standstill.

Furthermore, it is also important for the PR profession to have an historical record of one of the biggest crisis communication undertakings we have seen.

The book will also enable the profession to reflect on the momentous, tough, turbulent year it has been for our own, truly a year like no other.

The collection will be shaped by the contributions we receive, so it is by the public sector communication profession for the profession.

If you would like to feature, please send us your 250-word summaries of anything you would like us to consider for inclusion. Items can include your reflections, memories, something you had to overcome at pace, new ways of working, any tough situations, and how you felt as the enormity of the pandemic took over our work and our lives.

You can contribute to Tales of Covid through this Google Form here.

We would like this to be an account of how it actually was for our public sector communicators rather than glossing over the not so good and really tough parts.

It is your lived history, it is what you did, how you felt, how you coped – or didn’t – what you were proud of or what your lowest point was. It is part content guide, part social history and part honest reflection while the campaign is still ongoing.

Please do not contribute anything deemed officially sensitive. We would like this collection to be a raw account about how you, as public sector communicators, have got through working on the pandemic at continued pace for the past 12 months with many twists and turns along the way.

You may also have some funny anecdotes you’d like to submit or some nice stories of how you pulled together as a team, citing ‘you’re on mute’ and waving at colleagues through the screen. We’d like to tell COVID as it has been for our profession.

Once we have a good selection of summaries, from all four UK nations, we’ll put in place a Tales of Covid Editorial Group. We will put out a call for this at a later date and members will support going through submissions. We may then come back to you for a longer piece.

We would also like to include a roll call of all UK public sector communicators who have worked on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, no matter how big or small to recognise your amazing contribution.

At a later date, we plan to hold a series of Tales of COVID launch events – either virtually or who knows one day in person – across the UK where we hope public sector communicators will drop in to so we can say ‘thank you’ and reflect together on an historic time for our profession and how we all became the best collaborative partners we’ve ever been.

If you would like to be included in Tales of COVID, please submit a 250-word summary account with your name, job title and organisation by Friday April 30.

Alternatively, you can just submit your name, job title and organisation to be included in the roll call of UK public sector communicators who supported to fight COVID-19.

Kerry Sheehan, UK Government Communication Service, CIPR Board Director and Public Services Group Chair and Dan Slee is a digital communications consultant. The project is independent of any communications group or body.

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