Changing face of the communications profession

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The newspaper boxes were (and continue to be) the blogs of yesteryear – providing targeted news in many cases for free with the support of advertising (photo from Harvard Square)

For the past few months, people have been sharing their 10-year images on social media. So, we thought today we’d share some insights from past Communicator’s Corners about how the communications profession has changed over the years.

Daniel Tisch, the President and CEO for Argyle Public Relationshipsin Canada said: “When I started out working for a minister in the Canadian government in the early 1990s, PR was all about ‘staying on message’ and delivering that message mainly through news media channels. We had the luxury of long news cycles: we would prepare the message, do the interview, and not see or feel much impact until the evening television news and the next morning’s dailies. Today, communicators have less control over the message than ever before, as it is adapted, influenced and spread by many voices; so, communication has become even more about the building of relationships with stakeholders and influencers, and stewarding those relationships both in person and online.  To do well in the long term, you need a higher level of transparency and authenticity – plus an ability to know when you’re wrong, to say so quickly, and to back up your apology with tangible, measurable action. And whatever you say or do, it’s on the internet forever. The higher stakes, higher speed and eternal legacy of communication have changed the business forever – and generally for the better.”

Meghan Loneragan, one half of the creative duo behind the lifestyle blog Citizens of the World, said: “We can’t believe how much social media following has influenced how brands select their spokespeople. It feels like people are chosen on how large their digital footprint is rather that their expertise. In some ways it has levelled the playing field and opened up the world but in other ways we feel for ‘old school’ talent that didn’t embrace digital so much. Maybe the pendulum will swing? I say this knowing that we really appreciate having a large social following but there has to be more depth there, a skill or an educated opinion.”

Corporate communicator and travel writer Diane Squires said: “The internet has made it both easier and harder to reach audiences – easier because anyone can publish their messages, but harder because there are so many more channels vying for people’s attention. When I started out in a media role, we sent a release, rang the journalist to check it they’d received it and wrote for internal and stakeholder specific publications. Now we have so many social media channels, online blogs and websites to write for, as well as publications and of course, we still regularly pitch to media – but not always via a media release.”

And last week Dr Karen Sutherland from the University of the Sunshine Coast told us the biggest change she has noticed is: “Keeping up with technology and the increasing flow of and demand for information. The fundamental communication, PR and marketing principles will not really change, but how we facilitate them is constantly changing. Also, information (and misinformation) can spread around the globe in a matter of minutes. Being across this and ready to respond can be challenging. Social media does not sleep, so monitoring what is happening and being ready to manage any crises and issues 24 hours a day is definitely a challenge; so too, is the constant hunger for new content and producing high quality pieces to keep up with this demand.”

Discover more changes in the communications sector by exploring past interviews in our Communicator’s Corner.

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