Magazine article Communication World

How to Be a Professional Public Communicator and Deliver the Greatest Benefit to Your Organization and Yourself

Magazine article Communication World

How to Be a Professional Public Communicator and Deliver the Greatest Benefit to Your Organization and Yourself

Article excerpt

|What Is a Professional?" I pondered the title assigned to me for a presentation to a public communicators' seminar.

A dictionary definition, plus the fact that the entire audience was made up of senior professionals, should have made this one of the shortest presentations in history. But I had trouble getting a handle on it.

All definitions of a professional, whether from dictionaries, public relations books or other authorities, have a common flaw -- at least as far as public communicators are concerned. They purport that one can meet certain conditions or criteria, and ipso facto, like a new sculpted statue being lowered onto its base, arrive as a professional.

But the public communication profession is a journey, not a destination. The calling of a towboat, pilot, navigating a dynamic, always moving, flowing and often capricious passage, comes to mind.

I switched the crux of my presentation from "What Is a Professional?" (emphasizing the destination) to "How to Be a Professional," (emphasizing the career-long journey).

A four-part outline evolved. Details gleaned from experience and from listening to numerous speakers at IABC local, district, and international programs fleshed it out. So here it is. How to be a professional communicator:

I. Be a strategist.

* Analyze the driving force behind your organization (the "charter") and build your strategy on that.

* Know your organization's mission, policies and objectives as well as you know your siblings' names.

* Insist on facts. Never attempt to plan strategy or tactics based on unconfirmed information or data.

* Make the connection between your role and management's objectives. Using this as a touchstone, forge a written communication plan integrating research, strategy, operations and measurement of results.

II. Be a leader.

* Convince managers that your assignment is critical to organizational objectives. Get public communication (and yourself) included from the first in important projects and decisions.

* Do not let transitory emergencies thwart your long-range strategic agenda.

* Cultivate good human linkage. Counsel your management and technical colleagues on the ways that public communication reinforces their jobs and objectives.

* Be positive and constructive. Look, act and talk professionally.

* Decide, and then act!

III. Be an effective operations manager.

* Always work to the highest technical and ethical standards.

* Be skilled in public communication techniques, and competent in the use of conventional public communication equipment. …

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