How do you create a communications strategy when it’s unclear what the messaging will be?

That was the challenge facing the Sussex Resilience Forum (SRF) when it commissioned Martha and one of our senior associates to develop an EU Exit communications strategy in the weeks leading up to 29 March 2019, when the likelihood of a no-deal EU exit looked increasingly likely.

The SRF is part of a network of Local Resilience Forums (LRFs) across the UK – multi-agency partnerships made up of representatives from local public services, including the police, fire and ambulance services, local authorities, the NHS and the Environment Agency, who together plan and prepare for localised incidents and emergencies.

When a major incident happens, like an airplane crash or public health outbreak, all partners follow an established protocol to warn and inform the public as part of their statutory duties under the Civil Contingencies Act. LRFs are also charged with sharing public information more generally to support local community resilience and reassurance.

What we did

This was new unchartered communications territory that required a new way of working.

As public concern and media interest about a no-deal Brexit began to increase in the run-up to the 29 March deadline, we:

  • worked with communications and engagement leads at Sussex Police and East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service to identify required actions and information;
  • met with NHS and local government communications leads from across Sussex;
  • delivered a strategy to deadline for the SRF leadership that set out how partner organisations would provide and share information in a fast-moving but potentially prolonged no-deal Brexit period.

"Thanks for all your work on this. It was a huge support to know that it was being handled so well!"

Elizabeth Curtis, SRF Sussex Warning and Informing Group Co-Chair