Michael Addley on Covid-19 comms going into winter

Michael Addley on Covid-19 comms going into winter
Michael Addley, deputy director of communications at Medway NHS Foundation Trust, shares with us his take on the current challenges in comms.

Why did you choose to pursue a role in communications? For example, has it always been your passion or was it pure happenstance?

I’ve always been very passionate about the NHS and I had a number of roles before I landed on a career in Communications at the age of 30. It happened as a result of a chance encounter with the Head of Communications at my previous Trust in the hospital social club; I got chatting to him over a few drinks about his job and I really liked the sound it; soon after I applied for a role as a Communications and FOI officer, and the rest is history.

What personal skills or attributes do you think are most important in the communications sphere? Why these skills/attributes in particular?

Relationship building is really key to what I do and I pride myself on being open and honest with those I work with. If people get to know you and like you, it makes the job a lot easier! As communications professionals, we are good speakers, but it is also so vital that we take the time to listen too!

What sort of challenges do you face in your role? Is there a particular challenge that you experienced in the past that stood out?

I would say the most obvious challenge at the moment is the Covid-19 pandemic coupled with the challenges we are all facing in healthcare with winter approaching. It’s incredibly important to ensure that we are getting timely and accurate messages out to colleagues and our communities. Getting this messaging right can be challenging, but also provides a real opportunity to influence behaviours and save lives.

What one thing would make your working life easier?

I’m sure many people will have the same answer, but more hours in the day and more time to plan, deliver and evaluate projects would be lovely.

How is the role of communications perceived in your organisation?

We receive great support from our Chief Executive and Executive Team who really understand the importance of communications, so it always feels like we are pushing at an open door, which is fantastic. I also think our stock has risen among our frontline staff during the pandemic, with many beginning to understand the value that a good Communications Team can bring to an organisation.

What do you think the secret of success is when working in communications?

It probably sounds a bit trite, but building good relationships, delivering clear and accurate messaging and being responsive to the needs of the organisation is key.

At React & Share, we’re obsessed with helping our clients measure and report their efforts - what measurements do you think comms teams should be presenting to internal stakeholders?

I think measurements relating to media and social media reach and staff engagement with internal communications channels are really important. Most importantly though we use the information we collect to influence our planning for the future.

Looking into your crystal ball, what do you think will be the next big thing in communications?

I’m interested in what the future might hold for augmented reality and I think it could have a role to play in improving the experience of accessing care for patients.