BGS Public Relations and Communications - introducing the new BGS Comms Manager
This is a particularly exciting time to join the British Geriatrics Society. As the new Communications, PR and Media Manager I have the pleasure of project managing the upcoming refresh of the brand, as well as improving our general communications and visibility in the press. In future columns I will focus on the headway we have made in these areas but I thought I would take this initial opportunity to tell you a bit about my professional background and my vision for the BGS moving forwards.
I have been working in not-for-profit communications and PR for over a decade now and have worked at a variety of different organisations including City & Guilds, the personal finance education group (pfeg), and most recently the trade charity for the UK drinks industry, The Benevolent. My areas of expertise include brand revitalisation, stakeholder engagement, communications strategy and PR; although during my career I have tackled a wide array of communications related disciplines. Although I did my MA in English Literature at University of St. Andrews in Scotland, and studied Marketing Communications in London, I am originally from San Francisco. After growing up under a private health care system, when I first arrived in the UK I was both impressed and astonished that a system like the NHS even existed. Since coming to this country I have seen time and time again how it saves lives and supports better living in old age. I have also seen how passionate medical professionals, nurses, allied health professionals and the general public are about the importance of ensuring that everyone, especially older people, has access to quality health care.
Recent projections released by The Office for National Statistics estimate that the number of people aged 75 and over is projected to rise by 89.3 per cent, to 9.9 million, by mid-2039. There has never been a more critical time to advocate the importance of geriatric medicine. I see it as my role to help raise the profile of the British Geriatrics Society, both nationally and internationally, and help champion the amazing work that our members are doing in this field.
Within six weeks of joining the BGS I had the pleasure of attending The Spring meeting in Liverpool where I was responsible for the social media via our Twitter account @gerisoc. I am pleased to announce that 865 people tweeted using the hashtag, up from 750 at the Spring meeting in 2015. In total there were 11.15 million impressions (potential audience reach of all tweets) against 8.97 million the year before. We now have well over 8,000 followers on Twitter and I hope to continue to increase our presence on social media in future. Another aspect from the Spring meeting that was of particular note from a communications perspective was the fact that this year’s guest lecture was given by the esteemed journalist Michael White. He covers a variety of health related topics for The Guardian and his lecture was titled, ‘The real politics of health and social care’. He discussed his thoughts on public policy, the Government’s agenda in relation to health care and the future of the NHS. His lecture elicited a lively debate and raised a variety of pertinent issues including whether privatisation has a role in driving innovation in the NHS.
In relation to press coverage I am pleased to report that the BGS has featured in a variety publications including The Guardian, Care Management Matters and The British Medical Journal. Our President Professor David Oliver has been interviewed numerous times, including twice live by Shelagh Fogarty on LBC radio. In late May we released a media statement welcoming the National Audit Office’s Report ‘Discharging older patients from hospital’, which also received coverage in the press. I plan to make it a priority to secure more of this type of coverage in future, with a special emphasis on promoting geriatric medicine, and positioning the British Geriatrics Society as a leader in this field.
With my track record of brand revitalisation, and I see this area as a key part of my role. In order to better reflect the critical and cutting edge nature of our members’ work I am project managing the BGS brand refresh which is well underway. We have recruited the graphic design and branding consultant John Spencer, founder of offthetopofmyhead, to develop a new graphic style and logo for BGS publications, and in due course for the new website. He was one of ten consultants that submitted a creative brief and his portfolio of work, which includes The MS Society, The Motor Neurone Disease Association, Moorfields Eye Hospital and King Edwards Hospital, made him the obvious choice for the project. I will keep our members up to date with any relevant developments but please free to contact me in the meantime if you have any comments or questions.
BGS Communications Manager