Tina Sharma on the primacy of listening

Tina Sharma on the primacy of listening
Tina Sharma, PR & communications manager at Olympic Foundation for Culture and Heritage, joins us to chat about the challenges of short deadlines and the value of curiosity.

Why did you choose to pursue a role in communications?

I have always thought of myself as a storyteller. I wrote my first novel when I was fifteen. To me, all communication is a form of storytelling; be it the written word, images, video or three-dimensional spaces. I have always loved telling stories and so I think communications was a natural career choice for me. I really do believe in the extraordinary power of storytelling, to change lives and to inspire.

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

You would think it would be art of the written or spoken word – the gift of the gab, so to speak – but I believe that the ability to listen is far more important than these two skills. The best journalists, communicators and storytellers are the ones who can observe and listen, and find extraordinary details in things that can seem mundane to others. Also empathy, and the ability to put oneself in others’ shoes lends a lot of authenticity to communication and storytelling.

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 the field of communication, short deadlines are the most common challenge. Situations can change rapidly, crises can arise and the communications team is usually the first point of contact for external public. The pressure to deliver accurate and quality communication in a short span of time is ever-present.

What one thing would make your working life easier?

This links to the previous answer. We are often under so much pressure, working on high volumes and short deadlines that there is rarely time to sit back, reflect and look at the bigger picture. I find that creating time for strategic thinking is invaluable.

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

Curiosity and good old hard work. I was raised and trained in an environment of always pushing the envelope, charting new territory and raising the bar. A deeply ingrained work ethic has been the greatest ally in my career. And creative curiosity, thinking outside the box or simply challenging the status quo also comes in handy in this field.

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?

It can be a bit tricky, because communications metrics cannot be measured as easily as something like sales for example. However, I have always found that reach and engagement for digital, and AVE (Advertising Value Equivalent) for traditional PR gets the point across to internal stakeholders.

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

We are constantly moving towards greater authenticity and transparency. With social media, user-generated content has become key. While influencers are already very prevalent, I believe that virtual community leaders and content creators will really be king in the times to come.