When ellenor’s PR manager arrives for an interview about her life and career, she doesn’t simply walk into the room.
Basia – whose positivity, work rate, and unbridled levels of energy and enthusiasm have, over the years, earned her the nickname ‘Tigger’ – has been a staple of ellenor’s Marketing and Communications department for close to six years.
Her role? To manage and shape public perceptions: around ellenor, the work the hospice does in the Kent and Bexley communities, and – on a broader level – how people view and engage with hospice care at large. It’s to build relationships with stakeholders, manage crises, and promote a positive image of ellenor – all while shining a light on the tangible, crucial role the charity plays in the lives of patients and families facing life-limiting illnesses.
That’s the long version.
Ask Basia what she does, however, and her answer – in true media-friendly fashion – is a much simpler sound bite: “storytelling”.
Basia’s constantly on the lookout for stories that showcase ellenor’s contributions to the community – and they’re rarely in short supply. Every week, Basia sources, interviews, then writes articles profiling the plights of patients and their families – humanising them, and giving them a voice and a platform to speak through.
Basia also produces exclusive interviews with ellenor’s staff and volunteers to dig deeper into their own backgrounds, careers, personalities – and the motivations that drive them. As well as meeting, and telling the stories of, ellenor’s supporters – like firefighter Gemma, Twilight Walkers Tracey and Steve, or Jake, who took on the Goggins Challenge for his Grandma – to recognise their invaluable fundraising efforts.
Often, these stories are full of love and life – concepts that, unfortunately, the public tends not to associate with hospice care.
There’s such a misconception about hospice care. That it’s a place where people come to die. But these stereotypes miss the mark, because they overlook the sheer breadth of services ellenor offers. And that we support people with conditions, such as Parkinson’s Disease or Motor Neurone Disease, that they might live with for decades.
- Basia, ellenor's PR Manager
Basia also acknowledges that, as ellenor’s PR Manager, changing those perceptions is a big part of her job.
“By talking about our services, it makes our community understand that, if they should ever end up in a situation where they require care, we will be there to support them. We also need to raise £7 million a year for our services to be delivered – and unless we talk about who we are, and tell people about what we do, they don’t realise we’re a charity – and that most of that money needs to come from the community’s generosity.”
Before ellenor, Basia worked for theatres and marketed for some of the world’s biggest brands: including Panasonic, Unilever, and Ferrero Rocher. She has both the creative nous – and the strategic brain to apply it.
But what other skills does a person need to thrive in PR – and, in particular, at a hospice charity such as ellenor?
“Communication skills,” Basia begins, listing them off on her fingers. “Empathy. And strong relationships: with the media, with local councils, with our teams working throughout the Kent and Bexley communities, and with our corporate partners.”
You also need, Basia explains, the ability to gauge a situation – a knack particularly important when you’re working with patients and families. And, since you’re working with the media – pitching stories to them; trying todrum up interest in, and coverage of, ellenor’s services – you also need determination.