Laura Flinn on knowing your brand better than anyone else

Laura Flinn on knowing your brand better than anyone else
Want to learn from the best? Our interview series is the best place to get advice from those with their finger on the pulse of what's new in the comms arena.

Laura Flinn, Digital Content Manager at the National Literacy Trust, chats with us about her work to advance the mission of the Trust and outlines the importance of balancing creativity with strategic thinking. 


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

In response to lockdown, the National Literacy Trust launched a microsite for families, filled with resources to help them navigate learning from home. This platform was needed more than ever due to school closures and parents having to home school their children. I was offered the opportunity to move from the charity’s brilliant Campaigns team and oversee a content migration to collate all the activities on a dedicated site, which became Words for Life. I haven’t looked back since!

The everyday tasks are different to my previous role as a Campaign Manager, but I was excited to learn new digital marketing skills, build a unique content strategy and continue to work towards the National Literacy Trust’s mission - to improve the reading, writing, speaking and listening skills in the UK's most disadvantaged communities, where as many as one in three people have low levels of literacy.


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

I would say it helps to be a mixture of creative and analytical. I’m definitely more of the former, which helps when brainstorming new ideas for Words for Life, but I’m developing an appreciation for the numbers behind the content. These are important as they can tell us so much about audience demographics, behaviours, traffic and conversions.


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

Until the pandemic, the majority of our digital content was for literacy practitioners or supporters, whereas Words for Life speaks directly to people we support: families and young people at home, looking to improve their literacy skills. We’ve had such a brilliant response from the public and the website now attracts more than 75,000 monthly users.

A significant challenge faced by the charity sector in the fallout of the pandemic is funding. In an ideal world, we would have further funding put towards our popular consumer-facing resources to support families beyond lockdown, but this isn’t always an option.

However, headlines and essential research showing that children are returning to school with poor literacy skills means that reading for pleasure is high on the public agenda - and this has definitely been helped by influential figures such as Marcus Rashford inspiring young people to read. I hope that this will increase awareness of the National Literacy Trust’s work during the pandemic, supporting hundreds of thousands of children and families via digital and physical books and resources, as well as our ongoing work providing children and young people with lifelong literacy skills.


How is your role perceived in your organisation? 

In the last year, there’s been a significant push towards digital transformation, and Covid-19 definitely provided a leapfrog opportunity. It’s great to know my role is central to reaching our charity’s mission. For example, online content was at the heart of our World Book Day activities this year, including a virtual celebration video with HRH the Duchess of Cornwall and authors Tom Fletcher, Zanib Mian and Katherine Rundell - and a fantastic interactive quiz alongside Premier League superstars! 

My role asks colleagues to think strategically and creatively about the content they deliver, to plan ahead, seek out calendar hooks and consider new target audiences.


At React & Share, we’re obsessed with measuring our efforts to prove our worth to internal stakeholders - what measurements do you think digital content teams should be presenting to their board?

I’d say that bounce rates, session duration and pages per session can tell you a lot about the quality of your content and audience behaviour. If users are sticking around longer than average and taking a look at other relevant pages on your platform, then you know your digital product and user experience must be ticking a lot of boxes!  


What advice would you give to those at the start of their career in digital content? 

Know your brand better than anyone else. If you understand and champion the storytelling, imagery and content types that suit your digital platform’s identity the most, you’ll be on your way to an effective, tailored product. You’ll also find you become more confident in advising your colleagues and external partners to produce impactful resources for your product too. 


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

Putting yourself in your target audience’s shoes! By building a detailed audience persona and considering their needs and aims, you’ll be able to develop a CRM system that works for them.