Sangita Shrestha on information overload and efficient messaging

Sangita Shrestha on information overload and efficient messaging
Sangita Shrestha, communication manager at Feed The Minds, London, joins us to chat about her journey through nonprofit communications.

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

From my childhood, I always loved writing and storytelling. It started with writing poetries and short stories and publishing in newspapers in Nepal (I am originally from Nepal). Then, my interest grew in sending articles for newspapers as a hobby during my teenage days. Mainly reporting on various issues and sending them as articles led me to work with different newspapers as a freelance journalist back then. It was then I decided to be in the profession where I could use my writing skills. In the meantime, I got an offer from Nepal’s pioneering non-government organisation (NEW ERA) to work as an Assistant Editor, my very first job! At that young age of twenty, it was like a wide window to the charity sector for me while I was also studying Sociology. My career in development sector continued thereafter. The same passion for communication also led me towards doing a PhD in Environmental Communication. I was fortunate to work for various international development organisations in Nepal, including WWF, Lutheran World Federation, Oxfam, UNDP, and then work here in the UK with CPRE Sussex, INSAP, CNSUK and gain knowledge and experience in different ways. And now I am happy to be working here at Feed the Minds and be able to work towards the cause I care for. I feel I am made to work in this sector, not just a pure happenstance!

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

Communication role requires a combination of distinct skill sets. I would say the most important is an organisational skill as this comes very handy in managing the pressure and demand that comes at different times. I feel that planning and prioritising are the key attributes that one should follow.

The other important part is the writing skill as the job will require writing for different audiences in different platforms. So, the love for words too is equally important in justifying the role. Other than that, the cause that you are driven into is essential especially if you are working in the charity sector. Having worked in international development sector for over fifteen years, I always found solace in finding out how communication can make changes happen in the society whether by raising voice for the rights of the children or women, campaigning for education, and communicating research, or raising awareness in protecting the environment and saving wildlife.

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

In a communication role, there are several challenges, from creating engaging content to managing information and reaching out to different audiences effectively. Especially, we work in the era of information overload and getting the messages across and gaining attention of different target audience is an enormous challenge. That does not mean it is impossible, but it requires a strategic planning and processes to go through to get the things done successfully and gain the desired result through implementation.

What one thing would make your working life easier?

There are always new things evolving in the communication field as the trends and tools change fast. I would like to allocate sometime every week to learn new things to keep pace with it. I feel that balancing my work and applying the newly learnt skills in my role would make my life easier.  

How is the role of communications perceived in your organisation?

My role involves leading the communications activities of the organisation. I am also responsible for developing and implementing communication strategy, including developing brand, and messaging. All these require support from colleagues, project staff as well as external designers, developers as communication cannot be done in isolation. I am lucky to be surrounded by supportive colleagues who help materialise all these important aspects of communication. This is very encouraging.

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

Strategic planning and management of communications plans with a regular review of these are the keys to the success in a communication role. When the message is delivered in the right way and create some changes that we anticipate, we feel that we are successful.

Also, as mentioned earlier, we need to keep learning and gaining new skills to adapt to the fast-changing world. Whether it is a social media or latest design software, things keep changing and we need to be aware of and attentive to things going around. Having this in consideration will help us achieve our goals in an efficient way.  

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?

While communicating, one should be clear on what is it for and what the measurements mean to the internal stakeholders. Communications measurement should be output driven that connects to the objectives of the organisation. Also, it should lead to delivering results that support overall organisational strategy. Comms team should be regularly presenting these key measurements to internal stakeholders to inform how it will lead to achieving against the organisational strategy.  

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

As the digital media landscape and social media platforms are ever changing and that also at a faster rate, comms professionals maybe using artificial intelligence in communicating to different target audience in the times to come.