As journalists with the Shropshire Star, at least five of us here at Be Bold Media have been involved in reporting on flooding and the devastation it causes communities.
As a former deputy editor of the Shropshire Star, my colleague Jon Simcock would have been directing the troops, sending reporters and photographers out to different locations to capture the human stories behind the images of fast flowing rivers and submerged homes.
As chief reporter on the same newspaper, I would have had the phone tucked under one ear while I brought together all of the copy from different journalists across the patch in a lead story to sit on the front page.
Now, some years on, the ways flooding is reported on is very different. In a digital world, Facebook updates us via the phone in our hands and reporters are tweeting live – no longer phoning the story over to the office. One of the best doing it is our former colleague Sue Austin, who this week marked the 40th anniversary of becoming a reporter – from the banks of the River Severn in Ironbridge!
Change of tactics for flood comms
As journalists have needed to change the tactics used to reach the public, so have public sector communicators. Telford & Wrekin Council has been rightly recognised for doing it so well, here in Dan Slee’s latest blog.
We’ve spent quite a lot of this week working on flooding stories – albeit not on the front line like our journalist colleagues. We’ve been making sure that businesses affected directly and indirectly by flooding know about what help is available.
We’ve worked with the Marches LEP and its local authority partners to share important information about road closures and emergency help available.
And we’ve had the pleasure of writing about the generous offer from our client PaveAways to help businesses and communities clean-up and rebuild.
What this week has shown is that communication is king. When a threat to life warning is issued, when the barriers start to fail, it is only by communicating these facts that lives are saved.
The job now for communicators, both in the private and public sector, is to rally communities to support each other. Whether that’s through the digital parish pump of Facebook, the Insta-worthy photos of our beautiful county or via the new Shropshire Star Back to Business campaign.
If you’ve been affected by flooding, financial and practical help is available. You can find out more here.