The importance of self care for communication professionals

March 2020

In a world prior to the disruption and devastation of the coronavirus (COVID-19), this week Pinch Yourself Communication’s Mairi Barton was due to present on mental health communication at IABC Asia Pacific’s Fusion 20 conference in Wellington, New Zealand.

This heart graphic is one Mairi planned to share as part of a conversation about the known mental health impacts for business communication professionals from being at the frontline of crisis and issues management. The research findings related to the mental health of communication and other creative professionals from the United Kingdom (2019) and Australia (2018) are significant cause for concern.

‘You can’t help others if you don’t look after yourself.’

This message of self care feels more relevant than ever as communication practitioners – and other professions and trades, none more so than health and emergency services staff – work tirelessly across the globe in response to this unprecedented and rapidly-evolving pandemic and its health, and economic impacts.

Strategic communication plays a key role in helping organisations to plan and manage through a crisis, and there’s no doubt communication folks are working their hearts out right now.

Please look after yourself both physically and mentally, which we know are intrinsically linked. beyondblue, an Australian independent non-profit organisation working to address issues associated with mental health, has some simple tips on staying well.

At times like these communication practitioners – and other members of staff – rightly get swept up supporting our organisations and ensuring management, staff and stakeholders have what they need.

But you can’t maintain that, if you don’t look after yourself. Stay safe and well.

A promotional tile for the Fusion conference, which has been postponed to February 2021

Have a safe and happy festive season

Thanks for being part of our year – we hope you’ve enjoyed your share of ‘pinch yourself moments’ this year.

Whatever your traditions may be, have a wonderful festive period and may it be a happy, safe and meaningful time for you, your family, friends and staff.

Our office will be closed from 21 December to 5 January 2018, reopening on Monday, 6 January.

We value our connection with you and look forward to continuing our conversation in the new year about how effective communication enables business and community outcomes.

Wishing you all the best with pursuing your purpose and contributing to our world in 2020.

Best wishes

Our work recognised with Bronze Quill Awards for communication excellence

Our work to help build stronger community engagement and internal communication for Ambulance Victoria was last night recognised by the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) Victoria with two Bronze Quill Awards for 2019.

The two pieces of work have previously been recognised with IABC international Gold Quill Awards for 2019.

The two Bronze Quills were awarded for:

  • The Better Together program.

When we set out at Ambulance Victoria to improve community engagement we never looked at it as a one-off communication and engagement campaign.

Backed by real commitment from the leadership, we were given the freedom to develop a new model for community and stakeholder engagement, working to fundamentally shift the way the organisation used community insight and participation to plan and manage its business, and meet local and diverse needs.

It’s wonderful to know that our efforts to give the community a greater say in their ambulance service will contribute to better patient experiences and better health outcomes for Victorians.” Mairi Barton

  • The 30 Years of Women in Ambulance commemorative album.

The first female paramedics permitted to work in Victoria arrived for duty in an all-male ambulance workforce in 1987 and paved the way for many women who have served since.

The courage and resilience shown by pioneering female paramedics Andrea Wyatt, Pat Richards, Mel Buckingham and Georgie Hall in pursuing their career dreams is truly inspirational and the history of these first female paramedics has been preserved in a commemorative album.

“It was an honour to help share the stories of women in ambulance to celebrate their significant contribution, show how far we’ve come and to open a conversation about the work that’s left to do to create a gender-balanced workplace.” Mairi Barton

Last night’s gala dinner in Melbourne also commemorated the 20th anniversary of IABC Victoria. Pinch Yourself Communication acknowledges the outstanding contribution to developing our communication profession by IABC Victoria over the past two decades and congratulates all the outstanding Bronze Quill recipients recognised last night.

Thank you to Ambulance Victoria for the opportunity to contribute to their important work and congratulations to former Executive Director Communications and Stakeholder Engagement Kate Bradstreet on a total of three Bronze Quill Awards in 2019 for communication projects at Ambulance Victoria.

Two Gold Quill Awards for 2019 leave us pinching ourselves!

Outstanding internal and external communication strategy and implementation by Mairi Barton, of Pinch Yourself Communication, for client Ambulance Victoria was this week recognised by the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) with two Gold Quill Awards for 2019.

Gold Quill Awards are presented to the best of the best globally and we’re thrilled to receive this prestigious recognition for our contribution to the Ambulance Victoria (AV) team building stronger community engagement and internal communication to employees.

The two Gold Quills were awarded for:

  • The Better Together program.

This program is not only improving the way Ambulance Victoria engages with the community and fosters community participation in a local health emergency, but is also enhancing the way this government agency operates and continually improves its business to meet local and diverse community needs.

The judges offered congratulations on reaching and achieving the program goals and objectives.

“Community engagement models have likely experienced lots of changes over time. Yours could be the one that creates a blueprint for true two-way communication and engagement.”

“Great uptick in community feedback. Challenging budget and resources!”

Gold Quill Award: External Communication – Community Relations
  • The 30 Years of Women in Ambulance commemorative album.

This album told the stories of the female paramedic pioneers who entered an all-male workforce in 1987 and the women who have followed in their footsteps, both to demonstrate progress and to build further momentum for diversity and inclusion at Ambulance Victoria.

The work was described by the judges as masterful and inspirational.

“(The album) both commemorates a milestone and also was presented as a catalyst to conversation and advocacy of women’s roles throughout the system at AV. It is inspirational. By focusing on stories of pioneers and current AV staff, interwoven with statistics and also challenges in the environment, the message came through clearly.”

“Healthcare can be an emotionally appealing topic and you’ve done a masterful job of going beyond the story of delivering care to develop the key message around progress in diversity and inclusion.”

“It recognises the past in a series way…yet it is still light-hearted and human. It also sets the stage for the future with public commitments to continue the progress of women in leadership and technical roles.”

Gold Quill Award: Internal Communication – Publication

Pinch Yourself Communication would like to thank Ambulance Victoria for the opportunity to contribute to their important work and congratulate Executive Director Communications and Stakeholder Engagement Kate Bradstreet and her division on the total of three Gold Quill Awards for Ambulance Victoria in 2019.

Congratulations to all the 2019 winners, who represent the considerable value being delivered for organisations by the strategic communication profession globally.

Gold, Silver and Bronze for Communication Excellence

Smart and creative communication approaches which helped break down workplace stigma around mental health have earned Mairi Barton, of Pinch Yourself Communication, and client Ambulance Victoria recognition at the international, Asia Pacific and state levels.

This month (September 2018) Mairi was presented with a Silver Quill Award for the Asia Pacific region and a Bronze Quill Award for the state of Victoria for her work as part of a team at Ambulance Victoria delivering the organisation’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy.

This follows the Gold Quill Award, a prestigious international award for the same piece work by Mairi for Ambulance Victoria, announced in April by the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC).

“Only exceptional work earns an IABC Gold Quill Award,” said Cindy Schmieg ABC, IABC Fellow and Chair of the awards committee.

“Each entry is rigorously reviewed by multiple experienced communicators from around the world who are trained in applying IABC’s Global Standard of the Communication Profession.”

“The award winners represent our profession of ethical practitioners contributing to organisational outcomes.”

One tactic highlighted by the IABC judges for its smart and creative thinking was the use of interviews with family members of paramedics – a husband, a wife and a mother – to help start the conversation given stigma prevented paramedics from speaking openly about mental health issues.

Gold Quill Award: Internal Communication Management

What the judges said about the internal communication campaign developed and implemented for Ambulance Victoria:

“It demonstrates good research, thoughtful planning, a clever approach to reach primary stakeholders, tight implementation of the plan and (not surprisingly) very good results. It’s great to see it all line up.”

“This campaign was well thought out and well executed from start to finish. They completed the appropriate research to clearly identify the need and then formulated their strategy with each stakeholder in mind.”

“The work is well-researched and presented. The strategy is aligned to the business need and the stakeholder analysis. There is a wide range of tactics to engage key stakeholders, including a clever work-around involving family stories. It demonstrates that a well-planned campaign, with clear business objectives – even one done on a shoestring – can deliver big results for an organisation. Great work!”

“Inclusion of family members’ stories demonstrates smart and creative thinking for capturing the attention of stakeholders and influencing them.”