Meet Communications Manager, Sonia Nicholls


“I work in the Communications Team”, I say it and can already see the look of confusion crossing the face of the person I’m speaking to. “So what exactly do you do?” Ah, the million dollar question, and one that is ever-changing for our comms team as we move to keep up with modern day technology and communicating effectively to our ever-expanding organisation. But let’s see if I can try and give you a flavour of what we’re about…

There is no average day in the comms team. That’s one of the things that keeps me attracted to my job and it certainly leaves no room for clock-watching. Our team is a mix of personalities, expertise, experience…and hormones (we’re all women!). We work cross-site basing ourselves at PCH and Hinchingbrooke Hospital but we cover all of our hospitals including Stamford, Ely, Doddington and Wisbech.

Now don’t get me wrong, we love being helpful. Helpful is our middle name. But we often feel like the jack of (almost) all trades as we get a lot of ‘miscellaneous’ enquiries that seem to end up with us as a last port of call when people aren’t sure exactly who they’re gonna call (read to the tune of Ghostbusters). Whilst we very much operate an open door policy, it can sometimes act as a hindrance to be on hand for anyone and anything as we often have to down tools from what we’re working on to pick up the numerous adhoc enquiries that come through the door. We’ve made it part of our mission to be a bit more cut-throat (not literally obvs) on this and part of comms week is about educating the organisation on what we don’t do, as much as what we do, do!

We of course have a structure within our team but in the world of comms you really need to dip your finger into all of the pies to be able to produce something edible from the oven. In English – although we each have our own job titles and remits, we’re a team who works collectively on pretty much everything we do. We actively encourage development so everyone has a chance to try their hand and expand their skillset. Not to mention the fact that to become part of our team you have to have an (unhealthy) obsession with both Christmas and social media, or at least be prepared to take up the addiction. You’ll probably recognise most of us from the tops of our heads as we seem permanently attached to our devices as we keep one eye on our various social media accounts, track the local and national news and update our channels with the latest stories coming from our hospitals. It’s a full time job really – who knew?!

In the last 10 years that I’ve been working in the Trust, the shift in technology and more specifically the use of social media and pictorial tools to showcase news and information has shifted dramatically. Long gone are the days of a daily rag that was the only real way of telling our patients and visitors about our services. We now operate across all the major social media platforms and this requires a lot of time and support from the entire team. In the last couple of years we have revamped both our staff intranet and public facing website to ensure they’re more accessible, user-friendly and can host the level of information we are now putting out there. Who knows how quickly technology will continue to advance and we are always striving to keep up and meet the demands of our users.

We’re just about recovering from the planning of our largest event in the calendar, our Outstanding Achievement awards that take place in October every year. We organise this glitzy event from start to finish including the running of the monthly award winners – it’s no small task believe you me – but it is one of the rewarding and satisfying parts of our jobs. Now it’s time to hit the ground running with our Christmas campaign which will see us working with staff, patients, visitors, local schools, businesses and charities. Campaign work is our bread and butter – we take on internal and external projects, being lucky enough to work in every corner of our amazing hospitals and getting to know so many brilliant staff members. It’s always who you know rather than what you know that helps reach our end goals – without doing what you do, we would have nothing to shout about.

The list can sometime feel endless but if we add to that, sitting on the Major Incident Hospital Control Team, being oncall 24/7 365 days a year, writing and editing all of our hardcopy and online publications like The Pulse magazine and our new Connect Daily bulletin, acting as the NWAnglia paparazzi and pulling together some of our more strategic work streams by hosting Team Brief and sitting on various committees to see where we can assist, I think that gives you a glimpse of what comms do. It really is a brilliant job and our Trust is lucky to have a dedicated team who love what they do. We don’t like to blow our own trumpets but we like to think we’re serving you well and contributing to our ethos of moving from Good to Outstanding in everything we do (do you see what I did there – never a moments rest!)

Every day this week, a member of the communications team will be blogging about their experience shadowing colleagues in different departments. Tomorrow you can learn more about the Respiratory Investigations Team.