Why did you choose to pursue a role in communications? For example, has it always been your passion or was it pure happenstance?
I’m very inquisitive and I love talking to people and finding out what makes them tick. A career, first in journalism, and then in Communications is essentially taking these character traits and turning them into something more considered and substantial. Every strategic decision, policy change, or key announcement needs strong comms delivery. So working in comms, means you are close to the decision-makers which makes for an interesting and influential role.
What personal skills or attributes do you think are most important in the communications sphere? Why these skills/attributes in particular?
To be an effective communicator, you need to be able to ‘cut through the noise’ and understand what the call to action, or the objective is. You need to be able to ‘speak truth to power’ when the occasion demands. You also need to be creative, collegiate and agile. Agile in your thinking and your content delivery.
What sort of challenges do you face in your role? Is there a particular challenge that you experienced in the past that stood out?
The strategic importance and influence of Communications teams is now widely recognised, which is a great advancement. However, with that new-found recognition, there comes the challenge. Often the difficulty with the role is saying no. No to accepting a requested comms campaign, no to delivering fresh material. Tight resources and a long-term strategic vision makes turning down requests that little bit easier. But if you’re a people-pleaser this is not the role for you.
What one thing would make your working life easier?
More resource! The world is full of interesting stories, new policies and fresh ideas, so in effect the communications job is never done. Every team I know could do with more staff, more technical kit and more hours in the day to aid delivery and refinement of delivery.
How is the role of communications perceived in your organisation?
The Communications team and the skills we bring to the table are appreciated and supported by the senior leadership team at Liverpool City Council. I have a seat at the top table which gives me real insight into the decision-making process and the challenges that sometimes arise from those decisions. Critically, it also ensures that my team and I are part of the process from the start. Producing comms at the end of the decision-making process is unlikely to lead to successful delivery.
What do you think the secret of success is when working in communications?
To produce successful communication strategies and content you need to ensure the material is ‘of the place and of the people’. The content needs to be realistic with people at the heart of the strategy. If the consumer can’t see like-minded characters, the campaign will fail and the key messages will evaporate.
At React & Share, we’re obsessed with helping our clients measure and report their efforts - what measurements do you think comms teams should be presenting to internal stakeholders?
Regular evaluation is key. Looking at the data, the insights and intelligence can inform whether the content/campaign is reaching the required targets. It’s imperative on the comms professional themselves to seek out the insight and present the information and potential solutions, or pivot points, to the client/service team.
Looking into your crystal ball, what do you think will be the next big thing in communications?
I believe we will see an even greater reliance on social media as the months and years pass by and less reliance on traditional forms of media. It’s therefore incumbent on decision-makers to ensure that the digital gap in communities is reduced and that fake news/false information is called out and dealt with by the publishing platforms.