TUESDAY 8 MAY 2018 3:08 PM


The third book in the #FuturePRoof series was released today ahead of celebrations for the NHS’ 70th birthday. With contributions and unique case studies from healthcare communicators and public relations professionals, ‘#FuturePRoof Edition Three: the NHS at 70 with Lessons for the Wider PR Community’ highlights the pivotal role of communicators in delivering a positive future for the NHS.

One of the UK’s most recognisable and trusted ‘brands,’ the NHS is a source of pride for those lucky enough to benefit from it. The brainchild of Aneurin Bevan, then-health secretary in Clement Attlee’s Labour government, the NHS turns 70 on 4 July 2018. Funded through taxes and launched free at the point of use, it enabled all UK citizens to access health treatment at absolutely no cost. In doing so, the NHS was a pivotal step towards addressing engrained inequality and the ill health endemic among certain communities a turbulent post-war environment.

For CIPR president and #FuturePRoof editor Sarah Hall, a special edition of #FuturePRoof celebrating best practice and the tireless work of the NHS’ communicators celebrates how the organisation continues to shape British society and its values.

Its function goes beyond that over its admirable doctors and nurses, however. For Hall, the third edition of #FuturePRoof is a chance to highlight the role of communicators in the most enduring of organisations. “The book comes at a critical point in the NHS’s history,” she explains. “The organisation is a living breathing case study of comms innovation as it manages competing political agendas and stretched budgets, while communicating ever more frequently with an increasing number of people with complex needs. How its many teams join forces to implement one approach at scale is a pressing challenge as the face of healthcare as we know it changes radically.”

Like the previous #FuturePRoof books crowdsourced, the variety of contributing authors lend #FuturePRoof 3 interesting and sometimes unexpected viewpoints on the state of contemporary communications. Among the subjects examined is the role of communication in achieving organisational outcomes, how organisations can secure and maintain trust, planning and data, digital-first strategies, how to address barriers to technological innovation and the role of practitioners in managing major change.

And while #FuturePRoof 3 focuses on the NHS as a case study for public relations best practice, Hall explains how its lessons are applicable across a plethora of industries. “As you’d expect the book is once again jam packed with expertise from a forward-thinking cohort of comms leaders and advisers, striving to reinforce the strategic value of public relations within their organisations,” says Hall.

“There are some very clear take outs and perhaps the biggest lesson for management teams, communicators and the wider public relations community is to embrace transparency, invest in skills and use real people to lead debate," she explains. So while, 70 years on, the NHS remains one of the only truly socialist institutions in Europe, the challenges it faces in terms of building reputation, maintaining trust, establishing strong stakeholder dialogue and recruiting and retaining staff should ring true across all institutions, corporate or otherwise, committed to delivering the best service possible.

Poignantly, the back cover of #FuturePRoof 3 carries the words of actor and writer Ralf Little, whose staunch support for the NHS is well-documented across social media. “The NHS is facing its biggest ever challenges and ensuring its sustainability necessitates some difficult decisions based on insight and data, with an eye to future trends,” writes Little. “More than anything we need an open conversation and transparency on the future of healthcare, because changes to the NHS affect us all. #FuturePRoof recognises these issues and showcases the ongoing efforts of the many comms professionals working hard to communicate the facts and engage effectively. Props to you all.”

Its founding principles of transparency, democracy and fairness filter through the NHS at every level. These should be what propels its communicators forward through perhaps the organisation’s most turbulent period. It’s testament to their tenacity and commitment that the NHS is still going strong.

#FuturePRoof is available in hard copy and on Kindle via www.futureproofingcomms.co.uk. Follow @weareproofed and find the #FuturePRoof community on Facebook.

Sarah Hall and the #FuturePRoof authors are guest hosting #CommsChat, next Monday 14 May at the usual time of 8pm BST. Join in and follow the #CommsChat hashtag on Twitter.

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