Carving out the Modern Day Communicator

Screen Shot 2014-07-09 at 7.48.18 AMI had the privilege of speaking at the FutureComms 14 Conference in London on June 18th. Here are the Twitter highlights from the conference, if you’re interested in a day of the dynamic speakers, hot topics and plenty of insights all focused on one burning question … what is the future of communications? I opened the conference with a keynote discussing a communications journey; certainly not a simple or short one, but rather a long journey with constant changes, challenges, and rewards.

The Darkest Point Can Be The Most Enlightening

It was Joseph Campbell, the American Mythologist, writer, and lecturer who said, “You enter the forest at the darkest point, where there is no path.” If you’re in communications today, you may often feel this way; you’re at a point where there is no path. However, as dark or as light as your path may appear, I find Campbell’s quote to be inspiring because facing challenges means new adventure and from adventure comes tremendous opportunity. It’s our choice and our chance to create those footsteps in the fresh sand, in the newly fallen snow, or to create a path through the forest.

Like anything we do in our careers or life, we have to see our “darkest” points as an opportunity to find inspiring light and an even better path or direction.

We also have to remember that being in communications means you are running a marathon and not a sprint. In my discussion, I addressed how we are carving out The Modern Day Communicator with new roles and responsibilities.  The future of communications is not one discussion that leads to a single action. And, as much as we may want to gain knowledge quickly and sprint ahead, it’s important to step back and reflect; connecting the dots as we build a better future.

What’s Happening Today is Telling for the Future

Technology continues to advance and consumers are in the C-Seat (“Connected Seat”) calling all of the shots and being intimately involved in building their favorite brands. When you’re in the C-Seat you expect companies and your favorite brands to create better experiences for you. With more data available about customers, this is more than a possibility. In fact, it becomes every businesses reality to build enduring relationships and to thrive. At the same time consumers are engaging more actively in their social communities, and participating online via their mobile devices making the data even more readily available.

Although the path may seems a little dark with every new shift (i.e., from social technologies to virtual reality and wearable sensors) it’s time to step back and look at the big picture. Before moving forward, you have to bear in mind three important points that will keep you focused and help you to find your direction.

  1. Realize that change by nature can be uncomfortable because it’s unfamiliar territory. If you don’t know it, then don’t wait for someone to teach you. Learn it yourself. Keep your focus on the organization and the public(s) you serve. The Modern Day Communicator has to be flexible because of all of the disruptive technology and changing consumer behavior. You cannot be complacent and you must always be ready to communicate promptly and how people need to hear from you. Learning to be flexible in your communications will help you to react more quickly and make faster decisions, with greater accuracy.
  2. Ask yourself the serious questions. What are today’s organizational challenges and are you still able to answer the questions that keep the executives up at night?  There are areas of focus that deserve more attention. The Modern Day Communicator will be focused on data and analytics, being more involved in the creative content process (with a mix of media), being a global collaborator using social media to make connections worldwide, and building relationships as “agents” who make associations that allow others to excel and create opportunities together.  Serious questions require you to challenge yourself to face the realities of today’s crisis exploding through social channels, and determining exactly what that means for your organization. When you answer the questions and take on new roles, you become a communications problem solver across the organization.
  3. Continue the learning process and be a lifetime student. The quest for education should not stop. Growing in your career means finding the educational programs and resources that address the important topics to guide today’s communicators. Whether it’s education on the college / university level, continuing education online or through a professional accreditation program, you should seek more education to stay abreast of change. At the same time, don’t overlook the very important discussions / education surfacing in your virtual classrooms with colleagues and young professionals. These social communities serve as powerful learning environments where we’re able to develop and grow as students together.

The path will get brighter, as the discussions progress and more questions are answered. But, always step back, reflect and think about the big picture and then learn from what you’ve seen and experienced. The Modern Day Communicator moves forward with increased flexibility, more learning and insights, and always keeps a keen eye on what organizations and their publics need.