5 Qualities of Successful Communications Professionals
As technology advances, industries are disrupted and people’s preferences for finding and engaging with information ever-evolving, a successful communications strategy is more challenging than ever.
When choosing a communications professional or partner to grow or expand their business or offering, companies require much more than the traditional PR & communications skills that practitioners learn during the comfort of a university lecture or seminar (those were the days!).
To really support and drive business success at the national and international level, organisations rely on their chosen communications agency to demonstrate a wealth of experience and multifaceted mastery across a range of topics, disciplines and business sectors – no mean feat for a mere mortal.
In this article, I share five qualities of successful PR and communications professionals that I’ve observed throughout my career spanning across a wide variety of industries, both as a client and working in a consultancy:
#1 A realisation that growth and comfort don’t co-exist. This sentiment shared by IBM Chairman, President and CEO, Ginny Rometty rings true for individuals and companies alike. Good communicators recognise that operating within a comfort zone rarely exists when coupled with significant growth. Instead, recognising and capitalising on the power of accelerated learning when faced with risk, adversity and challenge, is key to taking businesses to the next level.
#2 A love of hats. Keeping up with competing demands in an incredibly varied role requires communications professionals to wear many ‘hats’ at any given time – strategist, creator, influencer, reviewer, listener, coach, problem-solver, analyst, writer, counsellor or designer. The ability to quickly provide insights, spot opportunities, prioritise and evaluate situations is imperative in delivering real business impact, measurable commercial value and stand-out work for organisations.
#3 Investigative skills. At times, one could be forgiven for mistaking a successful communications & PR practitioner for a seasoned detective, so strong is their persistence and investigatory skills (albeit without the intimidating spotlight for added effect). Asking the right questions with the ability to persuade, inform and listen is vital. An enhanced proficiency to thoroughly research and uncover credible and pertinent information to guide business strategy is highly advantageous. Likewise, working across numerous organisations, most often of differing sizes and across markets or sectors, requires acute organisational skills and a dedication to remaining focused on achieving business objectives.
#4 Regular reflection techniques. Taking time for regular frank and honest reflection of your capabilities, attitude and approach is extremely valuable for learning and growth. Not just asking yourself ‘What do I see?’ but ‘What do I look for?’ and using these observations to inform your future approach. You’ll be glad to hear that these questions do not necessarily elicit better answers when asked aloud awkwardly standing in front of your bedroom mirror, internal consideration more than suffices. Communications professionals must remain open minded, demonstrate willingness to try new approaches and retain an unwavering commitment to push boundaries to get the best results for their partner organisations.
#5 Ability to visualise. Visualising success from the outset whilst remaining focused on return on investment for communications & PR campaigns or programmes paves the way for greater outcomes for all involved. This mind-set coupled with the ability to seamlessly move between bigger picture thinking and immersion in the detail, ensures highly effective communications solutions, all underpinned by measurable results.
The honest truth is that being a good communications professional is hard and is a never ending journey of learning and honing skills. However, the satisfaction you feel when you know you’ve really made a difference to your client’s business is worth all of the angst and hard work that goes into making a communications & PR campaign or programme really successful.
Feel free to get involved in the conversation and tweet us any other important qualities of successful communications professionals which you have observed in your career.