Communicator’s Corner with Telstra’s Paul Crisp

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This week we chatted with Paul Crisp, Corporate Affairs Manager with Telstra about communications. Paul is also the immediate past president of the Public Relations Institute of Australia in Victoria.

What’s your elevator statement – who are you professionally and personally?

I’m a truth teller, not a spin doctor.

Tell us about your typical day in communications?

No day is typical, but they all involve some degree of planning, writing, briefing and reviewing.

When did you first know you wanted to work in communications?

My career path was set when I first encountered algebra at school.

Who’s your communication hero/mentor?

Winston Churchill. I’ve also been fortunate to work with inspiring leaders in our profession over the years including Noel Turnbull and Lelde McCoy and more recently, former NewsCorp and Telstra flack Andrew Butcher.

Which tools can’t you live without?

My smartphone.

What are the biggest challenges in your role?

Keeping up with new technology

Tell us about the best campaign you’ve ever worked on?

Working with the ICC on their anti-corruption investigation was fascinating, while the most fun I’ve had was working in publicity for the Royal Chelsea Flower Show. The most rewarding campaign was managing comms for Telstra in the Victorian bushfires.

Which campaign do you most admire?

I thought the mining industry did a very good job raising awareness and influencing the government over the mining tax. I also admire any of the political campaigns that have been based on strategic communication. In Australia, Hawke, Keating and Howard all understood the importance of communication, as did Obama in the US with his innovative use of social media.

What’s been the biggest change to communication/marketing/public relations since you began your career?

The introduction of social media and the emergence of online activism.

If you had to cut/keep something in your communication budget, what would it be?

I would always keep the training budget.

What quality do you look for in your communication team members?

Courage, loyalty and the ability to write well.

What’s your favourite brand?

Apple – mostly because of the way the company re-invented itself.

What book/blog do you think every communicator should read?

In terms of a book, ‘Alpha Dogs: How Political Spin Became a Global Business’ by James Harding. It charts the rise of the Sawyer Miller Group, a consultancy that pioneered the use of strategic communications in political campaigns across the world.

I would also recommend an article on the PR industry in the December issue of The Economist – ‘PR Man has conquered the world. He still isn’t satisfied’. It provides an excellent overview of the rise of the PR profession.

What tips do you wish you’d known starting out in communications?

Presentation is important, but content is what really matters.

Finish this sentence: ‘Communication is…’

…a learnt skill practised by many, but mastered by few.

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