Adeela Warley: Poetry helps me through the time of coronavirus

It's an era for the very best communications insights and practices, but also for a degree of reflection

Adeela Warley
Adeela Warley

It’s been hard to find time for reflection since the gravity of the coronavirus became apparent and totally transformed our lives.

The minute-by-minute deluge of messages from government, public health officials, the media and just about everyone on social media has been at once oppressive, alarming, confusing, a lifeline and a solace.

Communications experts have taken to their laptops to critique the efficacy of the public health campaign designed to rapidly change people’s behaviour, and have talked about understanding who is best to be the messenger of clear, concise instructions, the frames most likely to persuade, the tone of voice that builds trust and hope rather than rejection, fear and despair. It’s the time to apply the very best communications insights and practices.

Charity communicators have been busy too, adapting to remote working, trying out new tech, crafting communications for staff and volunteers, trustees and funders – and, of course, for the people we serve. These communications provide an authentic window onto our new reality and an urgent case for support.

Keeping on top of multiple channels intended to help clarify – instant messaging, video conferencing, social media and email – sometimes simply adds to the stress. I’ve found myself retreating into poetry as a form of expression, which poet Simon Armitage describes as “by definition consoling” because “it often asks us just to focus and think and be contemplative”. The poetry of Emily Dickinson is particularly apt and consoling:

Hope is the thing with feathers,

That perches in the soul,

And sings the tune without the words,

And never stops at all.

Adeela Warley is chief executive of CharityComms

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