North East Connected

Changing your communications in a COVID-19 landscape

North East communications consultancy MHW PR has been able to weather the worst of the coronavirus lockdown by providing support to organisations and critical workers in the front line.

Like many in the marketing communications sector, the Newcastle-based outfit has taken some business hits, but it has managed to maintain a level of activity supporting a range of clients in the industrial, fintech, social care, and education sectors.

Clients in the construction and property sector suspended activity during the height of the lockdown while some engineering companies also had to halt PR when their supply chains were disrupted.

MHW owner-manager Wayne Halton explained: “Nobody is immune to the economic impact of COVID-19 and the lockdown but, so far at least, we have maintained a reasonable level of business continuity.

“We’re not as active as we were in February, but our manufacturing clients continue to make their products; a fintech client has managed to raise finance and support a portfolio of SMEs, and a hologram manufacturers trade association has been supporting its international membership during the lockdown.

“But where we’ve been busy, adding value and support is with those clients directly impacted by the virus, three in particular – Helping Hands Community Care, Bishop Chadwick Catholic Education Trust and Gateshead College. They’ve had to adapt, change and innovate the way they deliver their services in a hugely disrupted environment. Keeping their different stakeholders informed, engaged and reassured has been vital during the crisis.”

Helping Hands, the leading independent homecare provider across Northumberland, has been managing the biggest logistical and organisational challenge in its 30-year history. The company had to shift from a branch network to remote working, recruitment and training went online, processes and relationships between staff and service users altered as a heightened need for hygiene and safety became paramount.

As a result of all the changing issues and raised anxieties among staff, service users and their families, Helping Hands worked with MHW to adjust and step up communications to ensure regular updates to all the different groups via the Helping Hands App, greater use of social media, the website and telephone helpline.

David Harrison, MD at Helping Hands, said: “To say that this is quite unlike any other situation or crisis the organisation has faced is an understatement. The challenges have been significant and there has been an increased need for clear communication internally and externally. Wayne and the MHW PR team have stepped up and supported us with vital communications to staff, service users and families. They have used different channels to reach out to the different people working for and using our services.”

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