I remember reading a quote 'whatever you do or say is public relations'. Now, I don't know who this quote is by (it turns out - not even Google can attribute this quote to its owner) but the person was evidently very astute! I started my career in central government and shifted to the world of reputation management. It has felt like a very organic journey. After all, communication is the bedrock of all organisations. It is important to business leaders and politicians alike and it drives change.
I am fascinated by how one message can be conveyed in so many ways, and see communications playing many roles. It serves to inform, engage, understand, evaluate and influence and it lands messages at the feet of its intended audience with a powerful precision. So, when I heard an industry leader speaking at an event in London this week, I was intrigued to find out what his thoughts are on the future.
Below are some of the key points made:
The communications industry needs to stop being so bashful about what it does
It needs to better communicate the value it adds across sectors and the intrinsic need for communication services. I agree that there is a common misconception about what the industry does. It is not about who, it is about what, how and why.
Good communications professionals are very much like lawyers
They operate in very much the same way and tend to possess the following traits 1) Excellent analytical skills 2) Good writing skills 3) Strong interpersonal skills.
Yet, there is very little representation of the communications industry on Boards
This needs to change: This came as a surprise to me. Many organisations have their own professional communicators (or 'Alistair Campbell' figures) why is it that this role is not better regarded and represented on more Boards across the country?
The growth and contraction of the communications industry is heavily defined by the economy:
There is a cyclical pattern for many agencies where expertise is sourced from consultants for a period of time before it may start to get taken back in house when businesses begin to feel the pinch of the economy. So, pitching for new business and the retention of clients often follows these cycles.
Agencies can embrace the shift to digital without losing focus on what they do and how they do it
It's about supplementing the existing formula with the right people and skills.
The times may change but the formula for success doesn't
In a time of increasing need for communications experts, this is the time for agencies to keep doing what they do best and making sure their offer is as strong, cohesive and visible as ever.
Communications is intrinsically about reputation and permeates across customers, suppliers, local communities, regulators, politicians, charities, public bodies, NGOs, businesses and investors. This outreach has been magnified by the increasing usage of social media.
One of the final questions posed to the speaker was his view on where the communications industry would be in ten years time. With the current emphasis on transparency, better communication and engagement across the public and private sectors, it is clear that the need for high quality communications will endure.