I had a great opportunity last week to talk about communication, social media and policing in two very different situations. The first chance was speaking to students at Rochdale Sixth Form College at a careers day both about working in public relations and in working within the police service. Amazingly one of the key skills required was the same for both – communication.
Effective communication skills are obviously essential to work with public relations, corporate communications or other media related industries. But it is also one of the most critical pieces of equipment to assist the police officer. The sergeant who had been in the police for 12 years told the teenagers that it was the one thing that would help you in any difficult situations. Being able to talk people down when they are angry and threatening without resorting to violence is a really valuable asset.
The young people wanted to know what the most dangerous situations that the officer had faced and how he had managed to get out of them. And he was able to explain that if you can talk to anyone then you can, with training, use conversation to diffuse situations and bring about an effective resolution. It might not be as dynamic as using a baton or handcuffs but it is really valuable advice. Learn and develop your communication skills for a range of future jobs or careers.
In my second situation I was able to discuss using social media to support the work of local charities and organisations in the Trafford area. It came from my support to The Media Trust a worthwhile organisation that tries to link people with communication and creative skills with voluntary opportunities to support charities and community groups. (Check them out @Media_Trust ) The brief was to outline social networks and consider how they might be used to support the groups. The end result was a great conversation about the creative opportunities that exist and that can be accessed by anyone. There is no longer a hierarchy that will put the power in the hands of a few; it is now in the hands of everyone.
It reminded me how much people can do themselves at no cost if they have a good idea, some creativity and some understanding of the power of the social networks. I am hoping that after the discussion the groups involved will be able to develop and enhance their voice through the networks and get the results they need whether that is new supporters, volunteers or fundraising. The key to getting the best result is to have engaging content – and to do this it is not surprising that you need to have good communication skills.
Although the two events were very different there was a common theme – good communication is central to modern life. If you can be a skilful communicator and understand the importance of engaging content whether that is in a conversation or in some formal system then you should be a winner. Perhaps now the Government are reviewing the curriculum they should take account of how crucial communication is in the 21st century.