So, a new year open up. But what will 2016 hold for those of us toiling away in public sector communications?
It seems likely that budget cuts will continue, leaving communications staff in a position in which they have to cope with an ever increasing workload while working with ever decreasing resources. One of the by products of Austerity Britain is that many public sector organisations no longer feel that they can afford to employ permanent full time PR staff. As a result, 2016 is likely to see a continuation of the trend where vacant posts are filled on a part time or fixed term contract basis.
It worries me that many public bodies may not have the ability to cope with the media fallout when they find themselves in a crisis situation. If you don’t believe me, just look at how they dealt with the flooding crisis last week.
No doubt people in 2016 will continue to predict the end of the press release. While press releases may not be as important they were a decade or so ago, I feel that reports of their death may be exaggerated. The ability to tell a story clearly and succinctly will continue to be a valuable skill, even if the finished article ends up on a website or on a social media platform rather than in the pages of a newspaper or magazine.
It will be interesting to see how social media will evolve in 2016. The use of video on corporate websites could well become the norm while it seems that Linkedin could become the most important social media platform.
Public sector PR staff will have to once again be careful to avoid accusations of political bias in the pre election purdah periods. The first Thursday in May will see a huge range of elections, including Mayor of London, local councils in England, the Scottish Parliament and the assemblies in Wales and Northern Ireland. Then of course there is the prospect of the referendum on European Union membership on a yet to be determined date.
Perhaps our prospects for 2016 can be summed up by the ancient Chinese curse; “may you live in interesting times.”