Communication isn’t the same as spin

Pop quiz: what do these   stories have in common?

The answer is, of course, they are united by rushed policy-making, an airy attitude to making announcements without expecting to be questioned about the details, and  spectacularly bad communications.

Ironically,the thing I like about this government  ( the only one) is its sense of urgency and its refusal to accept that there are any sacred cows that can’t be slaughtered.  I wish the last lot had been so bold.  But change on this scale needs to be based on sound evidence and detailed policy work, else it has a tendency to blow up in your face; and if you can’t explain what you’re trying to do, you can’t build the support you need to get it done.

The comms thing really pains me: poor briefing, confused messages, over-promising what cannot be delivered, insensitivity to the needs of important stakeholders,  confusion about key areas of policy.  They  need  good communications support and the need will get more acute as policy starts to be implemented.  Some optimists think that they are going to start realising this quite soon.  Regular readers will know, however,  that I am not  by nature a glass half full kind of a girl.  Government communication is firmly linked to spin and smears (Cameron said it again in his  leader’s speech yesterday).  The notions of PR, lobbying and campaigning are such an anathema to Ministers that they are effectively forbidding people to do it (even though an estimated 15% of new Tory MPs have a background in lobbying).  CIPR are trying to raise the issue of the value of public sector comms, but I doubt that will be enough.  They need comms help – how do we convince them?

Update:  I’ve just re-read this.  It worries me that it looks as though I think comms can or should be used as a cover for bad policy. It can’t and shouldn’t. My point is that if the government has a coherent strategy  that is driving what’s being done,  they have no chance of letting us know what it might be without a marked improvement in their comms.  The fact that it looks increasingly  as though no such coherence exists is worrying on many levels…

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3 responses to “Communication isn’t the same as spin

  1. Pingback: Booktrust: Cuts, U-turns and Car Crash Government | The Line To Take

  2. Pingback: Big Society – what next? | Sole Trader PR

  3. Pingback: Government comms – cock-up or conspiracy? | Sole Trader PR

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