Christine Yarnall, Marketing and Communications Coordinator
at RSSL, shares advice for writing human-focused stories and reflects on the last 18 months of comms.
Why did you choose to pursue a role in communications? For example, has it always been your passion or was it pure happenstance?
I always had quite a big imagination growing up and loved reading the stories of Roald Dahl and Rudyard Kipling, as well as creating my own. I was further encouraged by a particularly inspirational English teacher in the years leading to my GCSEs (thank you Mrs Young!) I pursued communications and creative management courses in further education, narrowing down the areas I found most enjoyable. After spending a little time working in events, I landed my first marketing role and was given the opportunity to create some fresh website content. I haven’t looked back since!
What personal skills or attributes do you think are most important in the communications sphere? Why these skills/attributes in particular?
I think a good level of curiosity and empathy are key attributes if you want to create engaging copy that resonates with your target audience. You need to be able to get under the skin of your reader, which means doing your research and understanding how what you offer solves their needs. Alternatively, if you are looking to write more human-focused stories, there is nothing like spending some time and building a relationship to truly understand a person’s story in order to represent it insightfully.
What sort of challenges do you face in your role? Is there a particular challenge that you experienced in the past that stood out?
Working within a pharmaceutical and food science organisation is an exciting experience as the industries are constantly evolving. RSSL is a highly innovative company and we strive to stay at the forefront of emerging technology and techniques. As such, it can be a little tricky keeping up and understanding the science behind our methods, particularly if (like me) you do not have a background in science. Luckily, my colleagues in the laboratories are amazing and more than happy to share their knowledge.
What one thing would make your working life easier?
More hours in the day? Failing that, I think just remembering that the best ideas don’t always come from mulling over a problem in front of a computer. If something is proving troublesome, take a step back. Make a cup of tea. Go for a walk. Maybe sleep on it. A little headspace can lead to fresh ideas and a calmer state of mind.
How is the role of communications perceived in your organisation?
I am fortunate in that RSSL understands the importance of communication – it forms the backbone of the organisation and connects directly with our objectives. We encourage everyone to be proud of what they do and enjoy hearing about the success stories from across the different labs. We’ve found that this has led to some great cross-lab collaborations.
Externally, we make a point of building relationships with our clients and understanding their needs. This plays a key part in the formation of our communication strategy.
What do you think the secret of success is when working in communications?
The willingness to listen and the ability to build relationships in order to understand your audience. Be flexible and be open to feedback – learning is lifelong.
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?
Measurements need to be more than numbers on a page. In order to mean something, they need to link back to your objectives. Break them down as much as you can to understand what worked and what didn’t. Also, when presenting these to colleagues, it is a nice idea to include examples and relate them back to what they do. This helps everyone feel included and reinforces that we are all working towards the same goal.
Looking into your crystal ball, what do you think will be the next big thing in communications?
Comms is always evolving particularly in the digital age. I think we can expect to see some exciting developments in AI, particularly in relation to streamlining and optimising the speed of communication. We’ll see – after the last 18 months, anything can happen!