With her early adoption of using social media and love and continuous curiosity for wildlife, Danielle Brigida, senior director of wildlife communications & strategy for the World Wildlife Fund strives to help conservation through communication about people and nature.
The wildlife enthusiast has been revered as one of the 10 Most Generous Social Media Mavens by Fast Company, one of the 75 Environmentalists to Follow on Twitter by Mashable, and one of 10 People to Follow Who are Saving the World by Mother Nature Network.
We caught up with Brigida to get her thoughts on the future of the communications industry.
What book, podcast or other media do you recommend to other comms pros?
Brigida: I love Start with Why by Simon Sinek and Everybody Writes by Ann Handley. Both give helpful advice on staying focused while always learning as a professional communicator. As for podcasts, I regularly listen to Dare to Lead and Coaching for Leaders. I appreciate the lessons on becoming a better listener and appreciating everyone’s strengths. Staying curious is key to keeping up with the challenges of communications in an increasingly complex world. I also loved the book An Immense World, by Ed Yong- which talks about how different creatures experience life, even if we’re sharing the very same space. It’s a great lesson for communicators to remember how different audiences can hold a completely different reality and to stay curious instead of making assumptions.
What’s your favorite tool you use regularly for work?
For organizing content and working across multiple calendars, my team has appreciated using Airtable. The ease of use, integration into our workflow, and fun colors have helped us organize our content calendar and track incoming communication requests. It also syncs to other teams’ calendars across the organization, leading to more opportunities to collaborate. Any opportunity to get creative and organize upcoming projects is appreciated! Since we’re working in a hybrid environment, the ability to share calendars and projects across multiple teams has been vital.
What excites you most about the future of communications?
I am thrilled by how design and collaboration tools are getting more user-friendly and widely used. One of my biggest goals is to make our work and our programs more accessible and often that can be through visuals or audio. Creative content is getting more accessible and with AI and lots of training available through Linkedin Learning and YouTube, we really have access to learn elements of design and communication right now. As other features become available, we can play and shake ourselves out of habits that we get into with content creation. I’m excited to see how we continue to learn and create visual content that really reaches people.
What communications challenge keeps you up at night?
Oof, I am kept up at night, thinking about whether am I doing enough. For my niece and nephew? For the next generation? I’m kept up at night thinking about the responsibility we have to alert people on issues wildlife is facing while measuring that with hope and solutions. As communicators, we must focus on the right priorities that consider our audience and their needs. It’s challenging to have to figure out what people really must know—versus giving them what they want to know. What keeps me up at night is just making sure that I’m doing everything I can to help conservation through communication about people and nature. It just feels like the problems our world is facing, more people should be looking to nature for both solutions and opportunities and I want to make sure I’m communicating that.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve overcome in your career?
Attempting to create boundaries and making sure I’m not always working. I love my job and being able to talk about wildlife and the amazing places and people that care about them is a dream. But I am also even better at my job if I can really disconnect and disappear into nature for a while. So I suppose my biggest challenge has been to rest before I’m burnt out, and see this as a marathon and not a sprint. So far—taking time each weekend to spend time enjoying nature has been an important ritual I’ve started to help me balance my off time.
What is the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
Hard to say the best, but I’ve compiled some of the things I try to use all the time in communications. 1) Observe the Golden Rule 2) Be a lifelong learner, 3) Listen to people
Listening makes you a better communicator, I truly believe this. I try to follow the golden rule as well, and treat people how I’d want to be treated. With that, I try to never create something that I wouldn’t want to read/digest/ or know. We can’t waste people’s time and I would never want to.
Isis Simpson-Mersha is a conference producer/ reporter for Ragan. Follow her on LinkedIn.