The word ‘unprecedented’ has been over-used in the past. We’ve all done it. But it is apt now. Covid-19 has impacted global health, mental as well as physical, on an incomprehensible scale and in its wake it is leaving social, cultural, financial and political upheaval. No sector in Ireland is unaffected, including public relations and communications. Covid-19 is, in my own experience these past three weeks, eating Business Continuity Plans for breakfast. It is putting communications professionals under a lot of pressure, professionally and personally.
A study in the USA last week by the Institute of Public Relations, an independent research body dedicated to the science behind communication, found that business leaders are leaning on their communication function as an essential resource to help them deal with Covid-19. More than three-quarters (81%) of respondents said the communication function is “important” or “very important” to their company’s Covid-19 response.
And it’s not just the private sector that is having to react fast, so too are the public, charity and NGO sectors on which we all rely.
It has been a torrid week for communication functions, internal and agency. It is not an over-statement to say this work has not, in living memory, been more important or difficult. And these professionals are personally invested also. Everyone is.
Know that your work really matters and that you have a duty to mind yourself so that you can continue to mind those who matter to you and the wider community. You can’t stop the virus, but you can keep the lines of vital communication open and flowing with factual, timely information. We are also dealing with a virus of mis-information, some of which is downright dangerous.
Impact on PRII Services
Operating on the available information, three weeks ago we put together a PRII Covid-19 Business Continuity Plan. It’s now on its fourth iteration and will change again this week.
We are no use to anyone ill or in isolation, so our small team has moved to working from home. It’s not ideal, but we are all operating remotely since Monday and the office is closed. It’s best to contact us by email these days. See https://www.prii.ie/contact/ for details of these.
With regret, but in the knowledge that it is the right thing to do, we have cancelled all events, Certificate courses and workshops into April. As soon as possible, and as soon as it is safe, we will re-schedule all of these. Our Diploma in PR classes cease this week and remaining lectures will be provided in video format online for students, along with lecture notes. We are reviewing examination dates and it is likely these will be postponed. Please bear with us, we don’t have all the answers yet, there are a lot of moving parts.
We will continue to follow the advice of the Government, the HSE, the WHO and the European Center for Disease Prevention & Control and will be closely monitoring developments as they unfold.
In the meantime, we continue with other work and we will continue to support our members through the weekly e-zine. We continue to update Covid-19 information resources on the PRII website here and will continue to stay in touch via LinkedIn and Twitter.
The team at PRII wish every one of you the best in these days.
Be kind, be clear, be well.
Dr Martina Byrne
CEO, Public Relations Institute of Ireland
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