Are you a communicator?

Posted on: March 3rd, 2013 by Jamie MacLean

Communications careers exist in every industry because all entities — corporations, non-profit organizations, associations, small businesses and even personalities — need to connect with their target audiences. This not only means communicating key messages effectively, but also listening to them to understand what they value.

According to ServiceCanada, job prospects in public relations and communications roles are fair, though still competitive. The average annual growth rate of jobs in this profession is at 1.5% for the next couple of years.

To build a comprehensive team, communications departments within organizations aim to employ specialists with different skill sets. Similarly, an agency (a third party that is hired by a client to manage communications strategies and campaigns) must also ensure it has the resources required to fulfil all of its clients’ needs.

So, succinct writers and those adept at building relationships with others might consider these public relations roles that comprise a typical communications team:

A communications director or consultant focuses on developing strategy for an organization, with the overarching goal to connect with certain audiences like customers, business partners, employees or investors. More specific objectives could be, for example, to gain new customers and grow sales, or to increase employee satisfaction. Specialists or consultants develop communications plans that outline tactics like media relations campaigns.

These campaigns call for the help of media relations specialists. They focus on developing relationships with the journalists, bloggers and media outlets that can get an organization’s key messages to the public. These specialists understand what reporters are looking for in terms of potential stories, and they pitch these reporters the ideas that are relevant to them — all in efforts to earn media coverage for the organization.

Employees are a very important stakeholder in an organization; job satisfaction is a major factor in an organization’s success. Internal communications functions must be able to maintain dialogue between executives and staff. The goals here aren’t only to ensure staff understand company objectives, but also to communicate any employee feedback to management. In non-profit organizations, internal communications may also include volunteer engagement.

Investors focus on understanding a corporation’s progress and financial earnings. Communicators who specialize in announcing financial updates are in investor relations. This role requires an understanding of business and finance as well as high attention to accuracy. Those in investor relations often hold a finance degree in order to communicate with investors effectively and precisely.

Building relationships with government is another option for communicators. Public affairs involves working with public officials to ensure they understand the causes for which an organization is fighting; the goal is often to encourage policy changes. For example, the Canadian Cancer Society changed legislation so that youth under the age of 18 are banned from using tanning beds. This required lobbying from public affairs specialists.

Some teams may also have publicists. They manage the image of a public figure (like a celebrity) or a product (like a book or album). They help generate coverage in the media to promote the brand and manage reputation.

Another area of specialization is crisis communications, handling issues that may jeopardize an organization’s reputation. Communicators must work quickly to mitigate any fall-out of trust that stakeholders have in a brand. Oftentimes, the other communicators on the team must also possess skills in handling potential crisis issues; the need to react quickly in such situations means everyone must know how to respond appropriately.

Social media has become in essential platform for dialogue, and so a new role is quickly emerging within organizations’ communications teams. Community managers engage in conversations with target audiences that happen online – for example, on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, as well as blogs and forums. Many consumers are voicing their opinions online, so it is essential for brands to respond quickly lest criticisms spread even faster. Community managers must possess the skills of other roles (for example, crisis communications) since they engage with all groups online, including media, employees, government and investors.

A career in communications can be a fit for those with a wide range of skills and talents. Both agencies and in-house teams bring communicators together to form a team that can respond to and engage with target audiences. Each has their part to play in ensuring the organization understands the public’s values, and in turn, that the public knows they’re being heard.

Have more questions about what we do? Contact us!