Meet our staff: Richard Cobden, Digital Media Officer

16 February 2021 | Posted in Emma Chaplin
Meet our staff: Richard Cobden, Digital Media Officer
Richard Cobden © Sue Curnock

Tell us your work history with the Trust

I started in 1999 as Interpretation Officer, now Sam Robert's role. Those were simpler days of Pritt Stick and photocopies. There was one computer that was shared with the Education Team and only one printer based in another office. So I'd nip in with a floppy disk to print things when Filma [also still with the Trust, now Business Support Officer] went for a coffee. 

The Trust had a simple website when I joined. I became responsible for it in the early 2000s.

In 2010, the Interpretation Officer role was split off and I also took charge of the newly formed social media channels in the role of Digital Media Officer. 


Woods Mill. All wildlife photos in this interview have been taken by Richard

Tell us a bit about digital media then and now

It seemed exciting, fun and somewhat innocent back then. One concern we had is that the Trust is about encouraging people to engage with wildlife and we wondered if posting about it would somehow stop people connecting with it in the real world, but that proved very much not to be the case. Instead, it sparks interest, increases connections and encourages sharing and learning.

We still tell stories of how people connect with nature, the seasons and the wild places of Sussex, but the range of media channels has increased, as has what we might post - from 10 seconds of a Instagram video to TV quality video footage, or talking live to 700 people on our webinars. The scope to reach people has changed rapidly and continues to do so. 

The role and functions of the website have also changed dramatically over the years, as have the number of visitors. In 2009, we had 20,000 unique visitors and 61,000 webpage views. Last year, we had 1,480,989 unique visitors and 1,885,743 webpage views. 

And in terms of social media, in 2009, we had 1399 Twitter followers and 220 Facebook page fans. Now we've got 29,311 Twitter followers and 20,979 Facebook fans. There are now more than 70,000 accounts following across all channels. Basically, we're connecting with a community of nature lovers, within Sussex and far afield, who like to share. 


Fly Agaric

What key equipment and skills do you need to do your work?

My phone and computer. I use Photoshop a great deal as well as Premier Pro for video editing. 

As well as graphic design and various computer skills, I need to be a problem solver ie finding solutions to challenges put forward by colleagues. One recent is example has been to indicate graphically that bird song is playing on a webpage.


Bee Orchids

What impact has Covid had on your work?

We've been particularly busy, because digital media has become the Trust's prime means of connecting with members and supporters, since we have no face to face engagement at the moment, or events. This has been challenging, but one impact of the lockdowns has been to strengthen the wildlife community and bring in new audiences, as members and everyone at home have become more interested in the wildlife on their doorstep. 

Which colleagues at the trust do you work most closely with?

I'm lucky enough to work with pretty much everyone in the Trust throughout the year. On a day-to-day basis, my Fundraising and Communications Team colleagues, and the Community and Wildlife Team, developing content. 


What sparks joy in your working day?

It's great when we get a lot of support, comments and questions from something we post. I'm amazed at some of the wildlife footage that is shared with us. And I'm impressed with the content, output and knowledge of my colleagues. 

Anything (Rye Harbour Nature Reserve Manager) Barry Yates does is amazing. He's so creative, with such a solid bedrock of wildlife knowledge.  

Least favourite activity?

Technical issues can be frustrating. 



If you could be anywhere right now, where would you be?

On a frosty day like today - a walk around Old Lodge. 

Old Lodge Nature Reserve©Sam RobertsSussex Wildlife Trust

Old Lodge by Sam Roberts

Lark or owl?

Very much an owl. I'd stay up all night if I could, 

Cat, dog or….?

Definitely a dog. Although I used to keep stick insects for years! 

Leave a comment