20 years; 20 communicators

To celebrate the Company of Communicators 20th anniversary we are profiling 20 Company members in the lead up to our big day.

Today we profile Victoria Sheriff, Director of Communications at Imperial College.

· 2018 – present: Director of Communications Imperial College London

· 2017 – present: Director Rum Judy Ltd, communication and creative content consultants

· 2017 – 2018: Director of Media, British Red Cross

· 2016 –2017: Director of Campaigns and Communications Which?

· 2015 –2016: Director of Communications Heathrow

· 2014 – 2015: Global Director of Communications Diageo plc

· 2013 – 2014: Director of Group Communications Department for Transport

· 2009 – 2013: Head of News & Deputy Official Spokesman 10 Downing Street

· 2005 – 2008: Head of News Department for International Development

· 2002 – 2005: Chief Press Officer UK Department of Trade and Industry

Why did you join the Company?

Victoria Sheriff: I was attracted by the charitable purpose of the Company and the potential to share the benefit of good communications. I also thought it would be a great way of meeting new people from a variety of backgrounds and to understand the City of London: its history, traditions and significance today. It has delivered on all counts.

What benefits have derived from joining?

Victoria Sheriff: First and foremostly it is meeting the great people who are in the Company and the bond that being part of it brings. I’ve made some really good friends and also broadened my professional network.

The City of London has such a rich history, I’ve really enjoyed visiting many different livery halls and learning about the City’s rich past and also attending some splendid and quirky events such as the Sheep Drive. I was fortunate enough to support the PR for that event for a couple of years and to work with Nigel Mansell and Mary Berry, both delightful people!

Being able to parade in the Lord Mayor’s Show has also been an enjoyable and memorable highlight of being a Company member. There is so much going on in the City that one can get involved in from talks to being locked up in a gaol for the night (for charity). It’s not all about swanky black tie dinners and the stirrup cup - although it is rather nice to dress up for those occasions.

By joining you also know you’re part of a major charitable endeavour, raising funds for good causes and also getting involved in providing communications support to those that can’t afford professional advice. I’ve really enjoyed being part of the livery movement and the Company of Communicators.

What are the main challenges you are experiencing in communications today?

Victoria Sheriff: I’d summarise the challenges I’m facing as ‘coherence’ and ‘cut through’. With our audiences being bombarded by messages, often by different parts of the same organisation and beyond, it can be really difficult to maintain coherence of messaging, and the clarity needed to cut-through the ‘noise’. There are so many channels of communication that many of our audiences just switch off to them all. What’s so important these days is collaboration between professional communicators and the unofficial communicators and influencers who often have the ear of those you’re trying to reach. There are no silver bullets for good communication: these days you have to be imaginative because great content wins ears and eyeballs (and it’s not usually the well-crafted messaging signed off by a committee…)

If you are interested in joining the Company of Communicators, please click here

Members can book tickets for the 20th anniversary reception here