If a new career in communications beckons, the first thing to do is be excited. Comms is a fantastic industry –varied, fast-paced, creative, and blessed with many supportive individuals that will help you progress.
In response to the latest #CommsCreative challenge (check it out on twitter), I’ve been giving some thought to the three pieces of advice I would give to someone starting out in communications. I’ve distilled them down to three As – Attitude, Approach and Aims.
The right attitude can fast track you to becoming an essential part of the team, however fledgling-like your skills may be. There’s no fixed recipe here, but passion and enthusiasm go a long way towards inviting confidence in you, while a willingness to roll your sleeves up and get stuck in to the task in hand will always be appreciated.
There may be times when you’re fighting with a photocopier with seconds to spare before a pitch deadline (I may be showing my age here), or up with the lark preparing for an event. But these are often the times when team working is at its best and your efforts will be noticed.
When it comes to approach, be a sponge. Absorb as much information as you can:
- Read widely – newspapers, social media, books, case studies, adverts, posters etc.
- Be nosy – listen to how people communicate; within an organisation, on the bus, the radio, among friends. Understand how different people take in and share messages, which will help you when it comes to planning campaigns
- Write, write and write again. Writing skills are the backbone of communication and we all need to keep practising. From social media posts, to blogs, to press releases and newsletters, keep writing and asking for feedback. If you can write well, you will always be in demand (in fact, please get in touch – copywriting associates are always welcome!)
- Encourage feedback and learn from others’ ideas – even if you don’t like them! Being able to build good relationships is essential, including the ability to handle feedback that you don’t necessarily agree with or which challenges your brilliant idea
Understanding your aims is all about you and your future. Where do you want to go in your career? Do you want to be part of an inhouse team or work in an agency? Do you want to run your own business? Are you a social media guru in the making or is your strength in crisis management?
Comms is a very varied role. Taking the time to notice what you enjoy and what you’re good at will help ensure you drive your own career progression and jump at the right opportunities.
Oh - one last thing. Make time to be really organised. It’s rare to find a comms person with spare time on their hands so start as you mean to go on with a clear set of aims and a realistic to do list. I’ve been a comms consultant for 20 years and I’m still working on this one!