So much has been said around the world already about the bushfire crisis in Australia; it almost feels like there is nothing left to say.
However we can’t possibly kick this year of business as usual off without acknowledging how deeply saddened we are by the devastating bushfires across our country and of course within our very own state, Victoria.
Australia is on fire, still. Fire on top of extreme drought has left communities devastated. It’s been hard to watch and impossible to look away.
More than 11 million acres across our beautiful country has burned so far; a number of lives have been lost as well as an estimated 500,000,000 animals (and rising).
Bushfire season has only begun. But we hope the worst is behind us. The loss of habitat for our wildlife is heartbreaking; which will no doubt lead to further and potentially permanent loss of species that were just holding on.
These regions hold my personal memories of swimming in creeks, dodging snakes, exploring bush trails, writing poetry and camping holidays with family and friends at every age. These regions are uniquely Australian and are identity shaping.
Like everyone, 2020 will mark the beginning of a year, and a new decade where we watched our Federal Politicians dodge questions about climate change as an unprecedented bushfire disaster unfolded. The sheer scale and ferocity of these recent and current bushfires by scientific account is not normal.
We have watched the PR approach unfold for our Prime Minister with bewilderment. It is in times of crisis that our political leaders have a great opportunity to unite, reassure and uplift. Words can give hope. Words create connection. Words build community. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how much you do (or say you’re doing), it’s about what you say, how you say it.
What we’ve seen though is people power reign supreme. (INSERT: Celeste Barber who makes me even more proud to be Australian). We’ve seen open doors and open hearts around the world. We’ve seen what is arguably a people’s revolution as Australian’s wrestle with the might of Mother Nature under pressure.
We don’t have all the climate change answers. There is so much to learn and so much we don’t know. But for our information I’ll be sure to rely on those living on and managing land directly as well as science.
We don’t envy the PR teams working on aligning the messaging with government action, authentic sentiment, community need and fast-moving media and social media conversation. Controlling the uncontrollable is definitely tough stuff.
What we do know for sure though is that there are some fairly primitive, yet robust guidelines to follow when navigating effective communication in the inherently, unpredictable and complex world of issues management in a time of crisis.
Effective issues management requires two-way communication where all parties feel heard. It also calls for formal, environmental and scenario scanning followed by fast and transparent fact giving.
There should be proactive and reactive sense-making strategies that restore a perceived sense of and deliver on actual safety in relation to security, economic, political and environmental affairs.
We’re so thankful to the firefighters, emergency workers, local communities and volunteers doing their absolute best to support those affected. And we’re proud to be part of a community that pulls together in times of crisis. There is strength in struggle. And the Aussie spirit is alive and well.
On behalf of our team, raraPR is supporting Wild Life Victoria, the Gippsland Emergency Relief Fund (GERF) and the Make It Rain Relief Raffle by Pop and Scott and friends. If you’d like to contribute also, be sure to follow the links.
Stay safe Australia.
raraPR is above all the sum of people who together help build brands and share stories. We are present in our determination to make a positive difference to the world by representing individuals and businesses that are doing good. We are an extension of the personal stories within us, those that we exist for and those within you that need to be heard.
Words by Jade Roberts.
(photo credit: Patricia Olmos via Instagram @olmospatricia)