Kristy Collingbourne on industry challenges, personal skills and believing in yourself

Kristy Collingbourne on industry challenges, personal skills and believing in yourself
Kristy Collingbourne, digital engagement manager for Overcoming MS, joins us to chat about her journey into comms, the power in self-belief and her thoughts of wisdom to succeeding in charity comms.

Why did you choose to pursue a role in communications? For example, has it always been your passion or was it pure happenstance?

When I first began my career, I wanted to work in editorial, I loved to write, read and work with copy, but I soon realised I could also do this working in communications. The course that my career took enabled me to undertake a variety of positions that incorporated aspects of communications but wasn't the main responsibility, and so I grew my skillset that way. I then got a job in the charity sector that encompassed every element that I enjoyed and now I can't imagine doing anything else. My role involves reaching new audiences and engaging with existing members, I get to talk and react to people on a daily basis and help them in a unique way. I'm now moving on to become a Digital Engagement Manager at OMS to enhance my skills and learn how to engage with a new audience.  

What personal skills or attributes do you think are most important in the communications sphere? Why these skills/attributes in particular?

I like to think I'm an approachable, warm person who's personable which I think is important when interacting with both warm and cold audiences. Something I've also gained is a bit of a thick skin when it comes to working with social media and what needs responding too, this as well as learning how to be both proactive but importantly reactive to stay on top of trends and be a part of important conversations online.

What sort of challenges do you face in your role? Is there a particular challenge that you experienced in the past that stood out?

Every organisation is different and has their challenges to face, but at many conferences I've attended I noticed many similar challenges as well. Resources, capacity, and creativity are but a few but a bigger challenge is tackling the negativity online, which I know many also face, you have the ability to hide or delete but sometimes it is your chance to respond, within reason. We should not be accepting of hate, hurtful comments or bad behaviour.

Another big one is time management, dependent on the size of your team and/or department it can feel a bit manic and overwhelming but it is important to plan the day out in a way that is manageable, as well as prioritising your workload.

What one thing would make your working life easier?

The time and team to bounce creative ideas off, to then have the confidence in my abilities to take a few more risks and try new features that will excel some of our content and my learnings.

What do you think the secret of success is when working in communications?

I'm not sure of secrets, but I can share some thoughts of wisdom to take away:

Be vocal within your organisation, and reach out to those who can help enhance your content,

Manage your time and resources,

Ask for help if you ever need it, and

Believe in yourself because everyone else does.

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?

Everyone looks at the follower growth, however you could have the highest number of followers but no one engages with your content, so for me it is about the increase in engagement and conversion rate that should be watched. I also like to study the audiences per platform and webpages, alongside which pages are frequently visited as well as posts most and least engaged with, this enables me to delve deeper into understanding our audiences and what content they would like to see more of.

Looking into your crystal ball, what do you think will be the next big thing in communications?

This could be anyone's guess but I'm quite excited about new features available on social media. There are so many new ways to share your content and vision that can take your organisation to the next level. I've seen many an organisation posting content that takes on a new level of creativity, following the advances on different social channels, which does nothing but inspire me.