Interview: Jane Heath

The head of communications and marketing at Breast Cancer Care tells Chloe Stothart why volunteering is a good step towards a communications career

Jane Heath
Jane Heath

- There are lots of other cancer charities with high public profiles: how does that affect your work?

We emphasise that we have specialist knowledge on breast cancer. We are not about research and funding care; we are about supporting people through the emotional aspects - not just when they are diagnosed, but also when they are living with cancer.

- You used to work for the National Autistic Society. How did its communications work differ?

At Breast Cancer Care we try to be user-based and very much case study-based, but with learning disability it is especially important. People with breast cancer are very vocal and that can be more difficult for some people with autism.

- Your adverts, "Support the woman behind the cancer", show a naked, bald woman covered in pills smiling at the camera. Tell us about these.

These adverts say that, as a charity, we are about the person under the medication. People said it was realistic and they liked the move away from our pink branding.

- What campaigns have impressed you recently?

One of my favourites of all time is the Motor Neurone Disease Association's Patrick the Incurable Optimist. He set himself the challenge of painting portraits of 100 incurable optimists before he died. It was so clever because it was so personal.

- What advice would you give to someone starting a career in communications?

Volunteering is really helpful; we take an intern in communications to help with Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Sometimes experience outside the sector in a related field would help.

- Which other charities do you admire?

I admire Macmillan. It invested in its brand and kept repeating it, and it has done really well from this. I like organisations such as the Motor Neurone Disease Association and WaterAid, which are clear about what they do and make every bit of communication count.

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