Time to embrace the chaos
This year's FirePRO Chair James Morton lays out a three-point plan for negotiating fire service comms in 2017...
November's FirePRO conference, as usual, provided countless golden nuggets of inspiration and insight. But one phrase, above all, stuck with me - embrace the chaos.
PR is Dead author Robert Phillips (pictured below) talked about the erosion of trust in the leadership of public services and that the ability to control the message is consigned to a pre-social media past. Embracing the chaos, he argued, is the only way to reconnect with communities.
Right now, it sounds like less of a guiding principle and more like our standard operating position.
In the last few months alone, we have seen the publication of the Thomas Review, the enacting of the new Policing and Crime Act, the Fire Minister's latest speech on reform and the ongoing restructuring of the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) to the new National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC). Each of these are causing seismic shockwaves across our services in various ways and there's no question us comms types will become entangled in the changes that begin to emerge from the chaos.
What should we brace ourselves for? Some of the possible impacts of the reform agenda were covered in this newsletter last year, but the duty to collaborate enshrined in the new Act will mean us working increasingly closely with blue light comms colleagues. The Thomas Review, meanwhile, highlights the need for a campaign to raise awareness of the broad range of activities fire and rescue services undertake to protect our communities.
One of FirePRO's main aims this year is to take a lead role in influencing the direction of our own destiny - and that involves each and every one of us. How? Here's our handy three-point plan:
- Join our #NotJustFires campaign - we're picking up the baton of the Thomas Review and launching the #NotJustFires campaign. We're pulling together the finest comms minds in the fire service - i.e you lot - to deliver some cracking content and ideas. More detail can be found on the CFOA forum but for it to be a truly national initiative, we'll need support from Cumbria to Cornwall and everywhere in between, so get involved!
- Be part of the conversation - through our national and regional committees, FirePRO will be feeding into the work being done nationally at the Home Office and CFOA/NFCC, so the people actually delivering the comms and campaigns - that's us, by the way - can shape the way things are done in the future. Your voice can and will be heard, so make sure you join your regional FirePRO meeting, contact your local rep, have your say on the CFOA forum or in this newsletter, or come along to one of this year's FirePRO events. Which brings us on nicely to...
- Feel the love - FirePRO's biggest strength is the support network it provides for our FRS comms community. We're all here for each other and the series of events we'll be holding this year will provide plenty of opportunity to vent, share, learn and drink tea (obvs). They'll be Unconferences to discuss the big issues bugging you, skills workshops to provide training in the most important areas and, of course, the annual conference later in the year. No matter how busy you are or how small your team is, there is no better time spent than sharing and learning from colleagues, so we'll see you all there!