Laurian Hubbard, Head of Engagement at the Welsh Parliament and Founder and Co-President of Women in PR Cymru, checks in with us to reflect on a year of crisis comms and to share advice for those seeking to challenge the status quo.
Why did you choose to pursue a role in communications and engagement? For example, has it always been your passion or was it pure happenstance?
I have always been on the creative side of life, writing poems and stories when I was younger, being obsessed with the news, and pretending to be a newsreader at the kitchen table. So, when I had the option to study media for my GCSEs I jumped at the chance and have been in this industry ever since. I studied Broadcast Media in university and fully intended on becoming a journalist but applied for a PR and Marketing role in Australia when I was meant to be on a ‘gap year’ and have never looked back.
What personal skills or attributes do you think are most important in the communications and engagement sphere? Why these skills/attributes in particular?
People. People. People.
Without building relationships, having your networks and understanding how people think / what makes them tick you are not going to have the outcome you want to achieve. Our roles and careers are built upon communicating messages to our audiences and without that understanding, your messages/products are never going to land and have an impact.
What sort of challenges do you face in your role? Is there a particular challenge that you experienced in the past that stood out?
As the Founder and Co-President of Women in PR Cymru it would be wrong not to acknowledge the challenges women in our industry face. Our industry is made up of two-thirds female, but the top jobs completely flip on its head and are two-thirds male. So until the regime changes, we need to keep challenging the barriers, challenging the status quo and challenging ourselves to take those top seats at the table.
What one thing would make your working life easier?
Bernard’s Watch (did anyone watch that programme?) – there are so many things I want to do that there are just not enough hours in the day. Bernard’s Watch would give me a few more hours, undisturbed by pushing pause and doing more of what I love!
How is the role of communications and engagement perceived in your organisation?
It is very much at the core of what we do and central to the delivery of the organisation’s strategic goals. Working in an organisation that understands the value of good communications and engagement is extremely rewarding.
What do you think the secret of success is when working in communications and engagement?
Your passion. I live and breathe communications and the impact it can have on the audiences you are trying to reach to achieve goals. Without my passion for our industry and desire to make a difference, I don’t think I would have had the fantastic opportunities I have had so far in my career.
At React & Share, we’re obsessed with helping our comms clients measure and report their efforts - what measurements do you think comms teams should be presenting to internal stakeholders?
We should always be looking at measuring and reporting on impact, not just the activity we delivered, but what impact did that activity have in meeting objectives – we need to step away from activity-led reporting and focus on value-led and outcome-driven measurement.
Looking into your crystal ball, what do you think will be the next big thing in communications and engagement?
I have been asked this a lot working on crisis comms over the last couple of years (Brexit and COVID) and if the pandemic has taught us anything it is about scaling back and focussing on what is important. This for me is our audiences and really understanding them – we barely scratch the surface sometimes and this needs to change if we are to have a more meaningful and robust impact on our work.