Confed17: 'If comms was football we would be playing with a different ball'

If comms was a football game, players would be playing on a different pitch or with a different ball, so unrecognisable is the job in 2017, according to NHS Digital's comms chief.

If comms was like football, players would be playing with a different ball, Rachel Royal told delegates at COnfed17
If comms was like football, players would be playing with a different ball, Rachel Royal told delegates at COnfed17

Speaking at the Confed17 event for NHS comms professionals, in Liverpool on Monday Rachel Royall, director of comms at NHS Digital, said the role of communications professionals had changed out of all recognition over the decades.

She told delegates: "The number of communication channels available to us has exploded, individuals can have a more powerful voice and influence than the traditional elite, we consume media in a much more visual way than ever before and the public are less trusting of organisations, politicians and the media.

"If it was a football game we'd be playing on a completely different pitch or with a completely different ball."

Royall asked delegates how, in this new environment, one should build a lead a modern comms team.

She said her experience had led her to conclude that comms teams needed an increasingly diverse set of skills, which were rarely to be found in one person which meant there was a critical number of people required.

Royall added: "A great journalist and writer may not be a great influencer and relationship builder. A digital guru may not be a great designer. So like football how do you build a great team of individuals? What skills do you need so that when they come together the collection is better than the sum of the parts?"

Also speaking at the event, Ceri Rose, assistant director of marketing for NHS Blood and Transplant, told those in the conference hall that they should "understand what your story is and never miss an opportunity to tell it."

The chairman of the event, veteran science reporter Lawrence McGinty, said of NHS budgets: "Comms people, like everyone else who works for the NHS, need to be just that little bit smarter."

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