Coronavirus (COVID-19) communications support and templates: Understanding the role of local government

In recent weeks, it’s become clear that some people don’t understand the role of the council, its employees and how important many of our services are to their lives. There’s been much debate and discussion about who is and who isn’t a key worker, and who should and shouldn’t be out doing their jobs.

Councils across the country have done a great job explaining their role in recent weeks and ensuring residents understand just how much of an impact they can have on their local services continuing to function through the crisis.

Here are a few ways council communications team have been cutting through the noise:

Lambeth Council Leader 60-second response update

After the first 45 days of the council’s COVID-19 response, Lambeth Council Leader Councillor Jack Hopkins took to social media to outline some of the council’s key achievements over that period in a 60-second video.

Medway Council weekly infographic of activity

Medway Council is producing an infographic every week, which captures what the council has achieved over the past week in response to COVID-19. It’s an effective way of helping residents understand the breadth of work being done by their local council, as well as to showcase the support that’s available to them.

Surrey Local Resilience Forum infographic - #SurreyTogether

Surrey County Council is leading the communications for the Local Resilience Forum, working with all districts and boroughs, police and health colleagues (and more), holding calls several times a week and coordinating the response across the whole of Surrey.

Partners worked to put together an infographic to show residents and stakeholders some of the great work being carried out in the county. This will be the first in a series of iterations to come over the next couple of weeks.

The logo sheet sitting alongside is a really powerful tool to demonstrate the partnership working and the benefits it’s bringing – with the hope that it is something that can be a lasting positive legacy of this crisis. It’s been published across social media by the organisations and people involved.

South Gloucestershire Council’s Hidden Heroes campaign

South Gloucestershire has launched a Hidden Heroes campaign to highlight the good work that’s happening across the community in response to COVID-19. The campaign celebrates the efforts of council staff and the vital roles they do, from social workers supporting children and young people to bin men collecting rubbish and recycling. The council are posting photos of staff on the council’s Facebook and Twitter pages so residents can show their support for people doing essential jobs. They have also produced a poster that can be coloured in and displayed in windows.

Waltham Forest Council highlights the role of frontline staff

Waltham Forest Council is using their frontline staff to illustrate how their teams are continuing to work as best they can throughout this crisis to support residents. This approach has worked particularly well with the council’s refuse and recycling team and has been replicated across other areas including housing and enforcement. The communications team have found humanising their content to be a game changer in their social media strategy, with more people than ever engaging.

Staffordshire County Council’s Hidden Heroes campaign

Staffordshire County Council have launched a Hidden Heroes campaign to complement the #ThankYouLocalGov campaign run by the LGA. It aims to recognise the vital contribution of colleagues across the council and in partner organisations as they go above and beyond to conquer Coronavirus. The campaign, which is running across internal channels and across social media, will feature the stories of people across the county in many varied roles. Many of the interviews have been conducted remotely and recorded via Skype, which has proven a useful tool when working from home and sticking to social distancing guidelines. You can see examples of the Hidden Heroes campaign on Facebook and Twitter.

East Lindsey District Council thanks re-deployed staff

East Lindsey District Council is using its social media channels to thank staff and recognise the hard work that colleagues are undertaking in response to Covid-19. With 43 per cent of East Lindsey’s staff redeployed from ‘non-critical’ services to support the delivery of the council’s critical services, the council are helping residents understand the role of the council and the extent to which they are adapting in order to be able to support everyone who needs it over the coming weeks and months.

Doncaster Council – ‘I’m helping put a man on the moon’

Doncaster Council used an old tale of a NASA janitor’s encounter with JKF to point out how all local government staff are playing a vital role in managing and responding to this crisis. They use their social media channels to shout out some of the unsung heroes of the response, as well as some positives we might not think about, from the waste collectors and social workers to NHS staff finally getting the recognition they always deserved.

Local Government Association – a #ThankYouLocalGov thread

In recent weeks there have been reports of council staff, amongst others, being harassed and verbally abused when trying to do their jobs and keep their communities running. The LGA used recent reports as an opportunity to highlight just how important the jobs that council staff are doing are, and to condemn the action that had been reported. A powerful social media post and press release led to coverage on BBC News, ITV and in the amongst others, highlighting the incredible work that teams are doing up and down the country.

WMEmployers Everyday Heroes campaign

WMEmployers (WME) has launched an Everyday Heroes campaign, #WMHeroes, to recognise the important contribution of key workers in the 33 councils across the West Midlands. The campaign celebrates how council workers have adapted to their roles in the wake of COVID-19, those who have been redeployed into completely new roles and everyone who works around the clock to ensure citizens have the support they need. The launch was covered by BBC West Midlands, who interviewed several council workers. Council workers can be nominated on the WM Heroes website, with profiles shared on the website and social media.