2020, the year when communication became critical on so many levels; from ‘we’re open' or ‘we’re closed’ for business to keeping in touch with family and friends to the Government’s confusing communications regarding how we should all navigate a global pandemic with one set of increasingly complex guidelines after another! (Who can forget Matt Lucas’s parody of Boris Johnson – work from home, don’t work from home or his equally brilliant publicity for GBBO "stay alert, protect cake, save loaves").
One thing is clear: language matters.
2020 has been a year of acronyms – WFH; PPE; NHS; the R number – if you don’t know what they stand for, where have you been? Probably hiding under a duvet if you’ve got any sense!
It’s also been the year when businesses ‘pivoted’ and ‘learnt lessons from lockdown’; children were ‘home-schooled’; adults ‘worked from home’ and we all ‘clapped for carers’.
Technology became our ‘lockdown lifeline’ with virtual Zoom, Teams and WhatsApp video meetings and webinars keeping us all connected and communicating.
We’ve cancelled holidays; took part in ‘eat out to help out’; invested in home gym kits; worked out in our living rooms; become walkers, runners, cyclists; baked sourdough and banana bread; wiled away hours with board games and jigsaw puzzles; worked our way through book lists; listened to podcasts; live-streamed cultural events; exhausted Netflix and held virtual wine tastings, dinner parties and quizzes.
Rainbows appeared in windows; we got behind local businesses; we found a new sense of ‘togetherness and community spirit’; we embraced Captain Tom as a national hero and jumped up and down in the living room with Joe Wickes.
In these ‘unprecedented times’, we’ve navigated ‘unchartered territory’, ‘minimised risk’ via ‘social distancing’, ‘self-isolating’, ‘shielding’, ‘washing hands’, ‘sanitising’ (everything!), ‘taking out’, ‘clicking and collecting’, ‘wearing masks’ – all of which has become part of our ‘new normal’.
As communicators, PR professionals have had a giant role to play: helping to shape communications, hone the tone, use the right vocabulary and manage brand messaging to respond to the mood of the nation and the ever-changing status quo.
An invisible, silent enemy has elicited a completely new lexicon and communication has never been more vital.
Clare Pope, always has her head in a book - current read Gathering Storm by Rachel Hore