Sian Manaz, Head of Communications at PCS Union, checks in with us to uncover why comms should be invisible and to reinforce the importance of empathy. Read on to learn more from her insightful interview.
Why did you choose to pursue a role in communications? For example, has it always been your passion or was it pure happenstance?
I started my career as a graphic designer, something I had always wanted to do, but then that seemed to morph into broader comms roles over the years.
What personal skills or attributes do you think are most important in the communications sphere? Why these skills/attributes in particular?
Empathy – thinking about your target audience and how you would like to be communicated with if you were them. That and having the skills to get a brief out of someone!
What sort of challenges do you face in your role? Is there a particular challenge that you experienced in the past that stood out?
The usual issues around making sure everyone understands the importance of deadlines I guess, especially when print is involved.
How is the role of communications perceived in your organisation?
I think it is invisible, which is how it should be. There is an assumption that it is easy and therefore requires little effort, whereas we are all frantically paddling away but hopefully gliding like swans.
At React & Share, we’re obsessed with measuring our efforts to prove our worth to internal stakeholders - what measurements do you think comms teams should be presenting to their board?
Engagement. As a membership organisation, trade unions have to be focused on engaging their members and potential members.
What advice would you give to those at the start of their career in comms?
Write stuff down. And if you ask questions, listen to the answers you get.
What do you think the secret of success is when working in communications?
Being able to get a client to tell you what they need, rather than what they want.