Chair's column- comms teams step up following seismic events
It is a mark of the sheer magnitude of the incident that it is already hard to remember a time before Grenfell Tower.
The last FirePRO newsletter highlighted the raft of changes taking place across the fire sector at the start of 2017, yet all of that has been dwarfed and superseded by the events of June 14.
There are few words left to write about the event itself and if you’ve not yet had the privilege of reading the column from London Fire Brigade’s head of comms Glenn Seabright on their team’s response to Grenfell, then you can read them in this newsletter
As Glenn highlights, Grenfell followed quickly off the back of the terror attack in Borough Market and was then followed just as quickly by another attack in Finsbury Park. Blue light colleagues in Manchester had also barely drawn breath from dealing with their own major incident at the Manchester Arena.
Watching from a distance, it was hard not to be in awe of the response of the comms teams to these seismic events. The speed of response on social media. The continual updates and provision of information as soon as it was readily available. The regular media interviews and flawless spokespeople.
And this was what we only saw in public. Behind the scenes, there was doubtless an endless stream of staff comms, briefings and advice being produced too.
To a lesser extent, this was a picture was being repeated in FRS comms offices across the UK. High-rise advice. Reassurance for residents. Briefing media on evacuation policies (and myriad other complex fire safety matters). Public meetings. (It’s worth revisiting this post on the FirePRO forum to marvel at what the Essex FRS team, among others, had managed by 4pm on June 14.)
Anyone ever need to explain why comms is an indispensable frontline function? Replay them the days after Grenfell and you’ll have few people argue back. I revisited our Service’s action log for the first five days after the Grenfell fire - 32 out of 42 actions were comms or comms-related.
The fire sector has been changed irreversibly by the events at Grenfell Tower but one thing that won’t change is the commitment and professionalism of the comms teams who face up to these monumental challenges.
- James Morton is External Communications Manager at Hampshire Fire & Rescue and Chair of FirePRO
Public Sector Communications Academy - have you booked your place?
This year’s Public Sector Communications Academy in Leeds on October 18 and 19 promises something for everyone.
Crisis communications, campaign planning, best in class social media, place making, evaluation, behaviour change, culture change and income generation are all major themes of Academy, with changes in the format meaning that delegates will be able to build their own agenda based on what is right for them.
Major names confirmed so far include ex-editor of the Sun David Yelland, Anastasia Knox of Britain Thinks, Conrad Bird of the Cabinet office, Professor Paul Willis and senior government advisor John Mcternan. Other big names are expected soon.
Delegates will be able pick and mix events and activities over the two days which will include emergency comms, role playing, spot mentoring, practical workshops and masterclasses. They will also be able to hone their skills in a number of leadership sessions which will provide advice and guidance on how to boost your career.
This year’s Academy is brought to you collectively by LGcomms, LGA, the Government Communications Service and Comms 2 Point 0.
OFCOM Communications Market Report published
OFCOM's Communications Market Report has recently been published and it contains a wealth of information to help fire service communicators in our day-to-day work.
Key insights include:
- The most used social media platforms
- Which generations access which media the most
- Ownership of different devices
You can download the full report here