• Barry Ian Thomson

Mixed Messages

In advance of this evening's media briefing by the Prime Minister, the UK Government announced a change in messaging regarding the Covid-19 pandemic.

For many weeks of lockdown, the British public has become ingrained with the mantra "Stay home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives", a message that has been repeated across media briefings, advertising and by the media news outlets.

The new messaging from the UK Government, which was tweeted by Prime Minister Boris Johnson this morning, sees a move to "Stay Alert, Control the Virus, Save Lives" which has befuddled many commentators and the public alike.

Boris Johnson tweeted a message that sought to expand upon these points. From a communications perspective these appears to be very weak messaging which may be reflective of a wider change to be announced at this evening's 7pm government briefing by the Prime Minister. Words and phrases like "as much as possible", "if you can", "limit", and "where possible" do not appear to be very robust in times of a global pandemic which has seen thousands die in the UK.

Perhaps in response to an immediate social media backlash against the updated messages, the UK government issued guidance to the media to help clarify the new stance.

I would argue that the 'Stay Alert' message in particular is very weak, almost to the point of being meaningless.

I watch with interest as to how this communication strategy develops and the impact it may have on cases of coronavirus in the UK and the pressure put upon the NHS as a consequence.

In particular it will be intriguing to see how the different areas of the Home Nations respond. Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon re-emphasised the 'Stay Home' message on Twitter and again at her media briefing at 3pm today.

Whatever your position on the messaging, please stay safe and healthy.


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