Communication professionals are now being asked to do much more than just deliver effective public relations or reputation management. With the changing environment, it is clear that a successful communicator has to be about much more. Boundaries are being torn down and it is no longer acceptable, although I am not sure it ever was acceptable, to say ‘this isn’t my job’.
The rise of social media, citizen journalism, the financial crisis and the squeeze on the public sector and businesses have all put new demands onto the communicator. It is a unique set of circumstances that means the communication professional has been placed at the forefront of plans for any business or organisation. Now perhaps more than ever their advice, guidance and work is essential.
At a recent police communicators conference (APComm 2013) I lost track of the amount of times that senior officers and staff presenting talked about the vital role for communicators. They explained how they had to be the ones to help deliver change, encourage the use of new technologies, support behavioural change and drive customer service improvements. So, if anything the communicators are now the facilitators and the agents of change.
But we do have to ask are we as communicators ready to take up this challenge? Do we have the skills? Do we have the determination? Do we have the foresight to see ourselves as more than just the ones protecting the organisational reputation? If we don’t then we are going to be left behind and will be doing a disservice to our organisation.
For some people the situation is going to feel stressful, risky and full of potential problems. It is moving into a new arena, a new world where there is more that can go wrong and where they can be held to account in a more direct way. This is uncomfortable and particularly when you don’t feel equipped for the road ahead. If that is the case then look for support and take advice and guidance from those that are slightly ahead of you on the road.
We are on the cusp of something amazing. A time when the role of professional communicators moves from the fringes as an add-on and becomes a really positive catalyst for change and improvement. All we need to do is recognise the opportunities and firmly grasp them so we don’t let them slip through our fingers.