Of all the unusual events of 2020 one of the most leftfield (or possibly inside left) is Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford getting a BBC Sports Personality award that is nothing to do with football.
A young man educated at Button Lane Primary School, Wythenshawe, communicated with a clear and impassioned message. In doing so he eclipsed an esteemed alumnus of Eton and Balliol Colleges.
When public relations industry bible PR Week named its top communicators of 2020 there were honourable mentions for Andy Burnham and Rishi Sunak but the surprise star was England striker Marcus Rashford.
Rashford’s campaign to help children on lower incomes gained him an MBE and praise and respect from across the nation.
The PR Week judges’ comments included:
“From purely a PR perspective the campaign worked because it was simple, the objective was clear, the message was consistent and ultimately put to the right audience in an effective manner in order to force change. Something that all good PR campaigns should strive to do.”
“Marcus Rashford should be an inspiration to all of us. In a world where the Government struggles to land a single message – despite having everyone’s attention and a huge media budget – he has delivered policy change through drive, personality, passion and a real sense of what is right and wrong.”
It all seems so simple: clarity, common sense and honesty. Three qualities that are vital to effective communication and are integral to the work we do at SLG.
Meanwhile, the lack of clarity coming from Boris Johnson in the spring was, to be brutally honest, an unholy mess.
This was the most difficult situation to face any British government in living memory. However – from a strictly communications point of view – it was almost beyond parody.
The rushed, baffling messaging from Downing Street, in the early stages of the crisis, gave the impression that normal checks, procedures and processes were not adhered to and the communications professionals were unable to push back.
When you are facing a crisis it’s not the time to abandon process – it’s time to rely on it.
Communications professionals should do what they do best: be clear, be logical, be honest and challenge. If the message is inaccurate, misleading or confusing – it doesn’t go out.
The government’s messaging has improved as the crisis continued and the UK government may well have taken some solace in the fact that – at least they weren’t the worst…
If you want your messaging to be crafted with common sense, clarity and honesty – get in touch with SLG.