I’ve been in my role as Communities Editor at The Times for almost two months and, in that time, I’ve met a lot of new people. On a fair few of those occasions I’ve been asked, quite naturally, ‘what does a community editor do?’. Happily I explain that I’m tasked with engaging with Times subscribers across various platforms, encouraging healthy debate by making it easy to comment on the website and fostering a level of conversation and interaction that makes users less likely to cancel their subscription. From my point of view, my role is relatively clear.

However, I’ve realised that not everyone is as clear and several times I’ve caught myself talking to confused-looking colleagues who are no wiser about my role in our online offering. Words like ‘community’, ‘engagement’ and ‘interaction’ are broad terms that can be unhelpfully vague if not clarified. Community managers, let’s not forget, have only been adopted within large media organisations in recent years so it is no surprise that there are some blank faces.

For that reason, when explaining my position, I’ve done my best to explain what a community manager does and can do in terms that other people understand (a harder task than you might think). From online production to conversation manager (horrible anachronistic term), and from digital marketer to simply in charge of comments, I’ve tried to explain my role in a way that doesn’t leave colleagues scratching their heads.  (Forbes described being a community manager as being in the ’relationship business’ but again I think that’s more of a hindrance than it is help.)

By expanding on what a community manager does, rather than talk in general terms, people know your remit, what you can and can’t do and are more inclined to approach you with a query about how they can connect with their users.

And, whilst this is particularly relevant to community managers due to the fast-growing nature of the role, it’s something that can be applied to other new roles in journalism that still aren’t commonplace: data reporters, specialist mobile news gatherers, product managers and story producers, who liase with editors and reporters to furnish stories with multimedia content and context from within the newsroom.

There’s lots of people I haven’t met yet at The Times and across the company so I’m still perfecting it. But being able to explain my role in simple terms is something I’ve already found important.