When I tell people I’m a communications specialist, I usually get a blank stare followed by, “what does that mean?”
Do I find it frustrating? Absolutely. The question is a constant reminder of how little people know about communications and the value it can bring to businesses. But I also love getting the question because it’s an opportunity for me to advocate for my profession.
Today, I’m putting that advocacy onto the web by rounding up the top four things I wish people knew about my field.
Let’s start with the basics: What is communications?
It’s all about communicating information effectively. We obsess over the way information is created, distributed, managed and consumed.
What type of work do communications professionals do?
Communications is a big umbrella that captures a number of focus areas. The most common areas that you’ve likely heard of are:
Social media strategy
Web content strategy
Editing (magazine editors, for example)
Internal (employee) communications
People who work in the communications field either do a little bit of everything (they’re called generalists) or focus on one or two main areas (called specialists).
Not everyone is a communicator.
It’s more than putting words on a page and calling it a day. One of my pet peeves is when people have the “I write and respond to emails all day. That must mean I’m a good communicator!” perspective.
While there’s nothing stopping someone from identifying themselves as a communicator, there is a big difference between someone who knows what they’re doing vs. someone who doesn’t.
What I mean by that is communications is bigger than being great at the back-and-forth everyday emails between coworkers and customers. That's a fantastic skill to have, but the profession is more than that - it's about communicating deliberately.
It’s very strategic.
This is one of the main reasons why I love communications. A lot of thought, research and strategy goes into every project, big and small.
As I work through projects, there are a lot of things I keep top-of-mind:
What is the purpose of the project? Are the pieces written in a way that drives people to take action?
Who are my audiences? Am I reaching them in ways that resonate with them?
Are the pieces formatted in ways that are appealing for people the look at?
Is the information clear? Is it answering all potential questions, or is it creating new ones for people?
In a nutshell, communicators love figuring out the best, most effective ways to communicate information to people. I geek out hard.
If you ever need help communicating with your customers, are looking for website advice, or just need someone to pick up a writing project or two, reach out!