Meet the Member: Chris Flood, Cancer Research UK

By Rachel Johnson
27 Nov 2019

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We sat down with Chris Flood, Content & Search Lead  at Cancer Research UK (CRUK) about how he’s helping the charity continue to embrace the digital landscape.

So, who are you?

I’m Chris Flood, Content & Search Lead over at Cancer Research UK (CRUK). My team help people across the charity make their digital content as engaging and user focused as it can be. And on the search side, we make sure that people can actually find that digital content. It’s a pretty small team of just seven people, but we apply a devolved model to content creation at CRUK. So our aim is to help teams across the charity create awesome content, rather than my team necessarily building all of that awesome content ourselves.

Describe a typical day at CRUK

Coffee, and lots of it! Once I have that out the way, there’s really two sides to what we do. There’s that tech-focused, detailed centralisation part; one of the big things we’re doing at the moment is a whole site content audit, which involves assessing our content quality as well as the site’s SEO health. That’s a real heads down, headphones in, geeky piece of content work. The other part, on the flip side, involves running tons of training and workshops with teams across CRUK, whether it be a masterclass on error messages with our developers, or teaching people to write better marketing emails. It’s that centralised work combined with outreach with the rest of CRUK, that really makes up the bulk of what we do on a day-to-day basis.

What challenges are your sector facing as we move into the next decade?

The big challenge that CRUK faces (and most likely what the rest of the sector will be facing) is trying to work out what’s next for digital. As I’ve said, we’ve taken a real devolved model to digital, pushing out skills to the rest of CRUK and that’s been great, but I think the next step will be asking how do we mature that process, making it sustainable in an organisation of our size. Like I said earlier we’re just a team of seven, working in a huge organisation, with thousands of pages on our website.

So we have to think about how we make our content well maintained, well governed, well structured, but at the same time empower people to experiment, to test, and, crucially, to make mistakes, and then learn from those mistakes. I’m quite excited to see how we balance that tension at CRUK moving forward as I think it’s a challenge that quite a few organisations in our position will be dealing with.

What drives you?

Although it sounds obvious, it comes down to doing good work for a good cause, and I imagine that would be the same answer for digital people across the charity sector. One of the things I feel very grateful for at CRUK is the people I work with. I’m very lucky that my team is made up of some incredibly talented people, and even though they come from different backgrounds and use different approaches they are all passionate about doing good work that makes a difference. It’s a nice situation compared to other organisations where people might sometimes not care about the work they’re doing. The team here have no problem in that area!

Tell us more about the BIMA Charities council which you co-chair with your colleague Giulia Merlo, as well as how BIMA has made an impact on what you do.

The BIMA Charity council was set up around a year ago, and we’re made up of some really diverse charities both big and small, and some amazing agencies as well. We wanted to explore digital transformation in the charity sector, and look at how we could give charities the tools they need to thrive in that space.

There are a bunch of smaller charities that don’t have access to the digital expertise, so to help provide that is a real benefit. Having agencies on the council is really nice as well as they are the experts in this area, so combined with organisations like ours we can create some really meaningful change. I think the BIMA Community too can create something special for charities and band together to make a difference in this space.

From a CRUK perspective also, being a member of BIMA gives us another avenue into the digital industry and allows us to see how the industry is changing, as well as show off the amazing stuff that we, and other charities, are creating in this space to help attract more people to the sector.


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