"The Communications pro of the future must be a master of three important disciplines: Radical Listening, Social Influence, and Perpetual Beta. Within each are new practical skills that will define the true PR master – the next generation ‘”trusted advisor.” "
The following is the fourth in a series on the skills of the communications professional circa 2010:
“Nothing is ever finished.” “The perfect is the enemy of the good.” “Get ‘pretty good’ out the door and we’ll improve it based upon feedback.” “We have to be in market, like, tomorrow…”
Sound familiar? Let’ s face it, the days of “cathedral building” where we plan a big program for months and then launch it, watch it go and count the impressions – those days are over. We will succeed as communications pros the more we attune ourselves to being nimble, resourceful, and willing to optimize programs once they are out in public. Being fast on our feet doesn’t begin to describe what’s necessary. We need to have playbooks in our heads or literally ‘playbooks’ of what to do if this happens next and so forth. In a complex world, you cannot anticipate how a marcom program will rollout (or even “unravel”). This type of dynamic will either make you crazy or, if you adopt a judo-like attitude, will become one of the most exciting parts of the job.
- Run quick pilot programs & evaluate on-the-fly
We can call for “strategy” until we are blue in the face. Many brands now need experience in-market with new innovative programs. They need pilots with a beginning, middle and an end. And they need a solid measurement model to judge the efficacy of the program.
- Train teams continuously
Stop believing that the twenty-somethings in your organization will effortlessly transform your organization into a social media juggernaut. We need to train – ourselves, our colleagues, our business partners/clients. It’s time for an enduring commitment to training. We have one of the most thorough and never-ending approach to training that I know of out there. Anything less would not prepare us for what we face everyday.
- Integrate new technologies into our lives
You cannot be expert at how to use social media to affect business simply by observation. You cannot just read a book. You need to roll up your sleeves and use Twitter, Facebook, Posterous or whatever the next new thing is. Give yourself permission to experiment and explore. It will pay off and the time sacrifice will become worth it.
- Always be innovating
Once you have a pretty solid solution to a communications problem, know that it’s time to come up with a fresh approach. If you build a rhythm of constantly innovating, you will get used to it and be able to bring new solutions constantly. Never rest. Never fall back into a rut.
Embrace the Complexity
This is a great time to be a Communications professional. There is a freshness to the discipline thanks to social media and an increasingly complex marcom universe. We are all participating in the transformation of public relations. Our mastery of new skills will guarantee our role as strategic advisors who design communications plans that have big impact. Add these skills to the expertise most walk through the door with and we will be that powerful Communications Professional of the Future – driving business results, building brand reputation, and helping our businesses transform.
A Word on "Judgement:"
One thing that these skills cannot deliver on their own is ‘judgment’ and as Marcia Silverman, retiring CEO of Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, and one of the true ‘great ones’ in the business, once told me, good judgment is often the defining characteristic of a truly great public relations practitioner. So, after you have honed all of these practical skills, never lose sight of that elusive quality - good judgement. Find it in mentors. Discover it the hard way - through experience. Just never underestimate how valuable a skill it really is.
Useful "beta" resources: