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A Public Relations Podcast: Smoke Signal – The Impact of COVID-19 on PR and Communication

At the start of the global pandemic, as the world was turned upside down, I put a hold on this podcast. So for the first episode back I thought it only right to look at how COVID-19 has impacted the world of PR and communications.

PR leader, academic and author, Stephen Waddington, says COVID-19 had an “immediate and dramatic effect on PR and communications”. He authored a report for the UK Government Communication Service titled COVID-19 Communication Advisory Panel Report looking at what the impact those experiences may have on professional communication over the long term.

In this episode we speak to Stephen Waddington direct from his house boat on the River Thames to discuss some of the key take-aways from his report:

  • Communication as a strategic management and leadership function: Professional communications was absolutely critical for organisations throughout COVID-19 and has ensured professional communicators now most definitely have a ‘seat at the table’.

  • A significant increase in focus in employee engagement and internal communications as workers went remote: We have let people into our home and it has had a humanising effect on society, and on how leaders communicate. We’ve discovered new channels and ways to communicate to overcome the absence of face to face communication; but we do need to now find a balance.

  • An acceleration to digital media: More than just more channels what we saw was a significant innovation and creativity emerge across all aspects of communication.

  • Impact of disinformation and misinformation: Especially concerning was the role of social networks to quite easily disrupt and cause harm in terms of misinformation.

Stephen Waddington writes a regular blog and weekly newsletter, follow him on Wadds Inc here.

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