By Karen Addis, APR
Whether you work for a corporation or a nonprofit organization, communicators in 2011, more than ever before, need to be strategically focused and show measurable results. “It’s always been out there, but organizations are finally waking up to this,” said Ben Long, president of Travaille Executive Search.
Long was one of four panelists who spoke at the Jan. 12 PRSA-NCC workshop, “What Skills Will Professional Communicators Need in 2011 to Increase their Value and Marketability.” Other panelists included Bill Pendergast, general manager of Fleishman-Hillard’s DC office; Paul Anderson, vice president of communications strategies at AARP; and James Fisher, senior manager at Booz Allen Hamilton.
Social media skills, not surprisingly, are also critical, but emphasized Long, it’s not just about the tactics of setting up a Facebook page or Tweeting. “Employees need to be able to drive a strategy using social media.”
Fleishman’s Pendergast talked about the importance of having a multi-dimensional skill set. “We need people who can think broadly and pull everything together,” he said. “And there just aren’t enough people who can do that.”
“You can no longer sell yourself as a specialist,” in Anderson’s opinion. Yet the AARP VP stressed that fundamentals are still important: intelligence, energy, awareness of issues, ability to engage with other organizations, presentations skills, and writing. “Even a Tweet has to be engaging,” he pointed out.
For Fisher, being an evangelist for social media is key at Booz Allen Hamilton. When hiring, he looks for people who can explain the value and importance of social media and sell it to senior management. “Your job is to teach management about the value of social media,” said Fisher.
In this day and age of shrinking budgets, panelists all agreed that everything a communications professional does needs to be based on strategy, whether it’s writing a Tweet or placing an article in major newspaper. “If you don’t have strategic skills and understand measurability,” said Long, “you’re lacking.”
Panelists in picture are (Left to right) Ben Long, president, Travaille Executive Search; Bill Pendergast, general manager, Fleishman-Hillard Washington, DC; Danny Selnick (moderator), co-chair of the PRSA-NCC Professional Development Committee and vice president of Business Wire's Public Policy Wire; James Fisher, senior manger, media relations, Booz Allen Hamilton; and Paul Anderson, VP Communications Strategies, AARP.
Karen Addis, APR, is Vice President at Environics Communications