The working life of a communications officer

Jul 30, 2018

working life of communications officer

Chris Higgins is Communications Officer at Katharine House Hospice in Banbury, Oxfordshire. Here he tells ehospice about what inspires him and what his greatest achievements in this role have been so far.

I graduated with a jazz degree from Musician’s Institute in Los Angeles, and spent some time teaching and working as a session musician in the US and the UK. During my time in America I volunteered for the Obama ’08 presidential campaign, assisting with various comms tasks, and that really sparked my interest in communications.

After a couple of years teaching, I switched careers and since then I have worked in different comms roles for a county music service and a software company before joining Katharine House just over two years ago.

As most hospice comms people will be familiar with, I seem to be working on about a hundred different projects at the moment!

I have just completed work on a short film project about Katharine House which shows people what our hospice is really like – a bright place that is full of life and laughter. I am really proud of how it has turned out, and you can see it on our website.

Our annual Midnight Walk in July is always our biggest fundraising event of the year and has raised over £1m for the hospice since 2007. This year we got a great marketing campaign based around the ‘Superheroes’ theme – we even got a couple of inspirational videos from England rugby superhero Mike Tindall challenging people to grab their capes and take part!

The hospice itself is really my biggest source of inspiration. The selflessness and dedication our clinical team shows for people at the most difficult time in their life is amazing, and the care, compassion and gratitude that happens every day on our inpatient unit, in day hospice or out in the community is always enough inspiration in itself. Meeting patients is always a joy too – hearing their stories or chatting to them while they paint in the art room is very humbling. Part of my role is to capture all of that that and show it off to our staff, volunteers, patients and the rest of the world so they can be inspired by it too.

My biggest achievement to date was shortly after joining Katharine House, when I managed the organisation’s rebrand and new website project - a huge undertaking given the six-month deadline and tiny budget! I led staff and volunteers through the process of researching, looking at our vision, mission and values, and developed the new brand identity with the agency. There was a lot of work to do to bring the brand and our comms up to date, and as you can imagine, after 25 years, rebranding a local hospice which holds a very special place in the hearts of the local community was not without its challenges. In September 2016 we launched a new, stronger and more useable brand which reflects the philosophy on which Katharine House was founded.

I was delighted to join a panel of great hospice comms professionals for a workshop on branding at the Hospice UK Comms Day on 12 July, where I spoke about the importance of a strong brand and how rebranding helped our hospice.

What does hospice care mean to you?