In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing world, communications roles continue to evolve as our stakeholders, technology, and the expectations on us become more complex.
At the recent IABC NSW event Take your communication career to the next level, thirty communicators from across a range of sectors were joined by three industry experts to explore how we can navigate our way through some of the biggest scenarios facing many of us.
Andrew McGinnes, Executive Manager, Corporate Affairs and Communications, Qantas Group, Mikeela Sinclair, Group Head of Integrated Campaigns, Westpac Group, and Karen Davis, General Manager, Global Communications, Xero, shared insights from their own careers on how to respond during reputation-threatening issues, engage employees in environments of constant change, and build communications teams across borders.
While Chatham House Rule applied and we can’t share some of the fantastic stories, there were some key points we took away:
- Respond or fall behind: As communicators, we’re constantly faced with issues, and occasionally a crisis is thrown in there for good measure. To respond at speed, it’s important to have a simplified (and relatively flat) process where the communicator can be enabled to move quickly and make their best judgement using the information at hand. This is imperative in this social media age where issues move incredibly fast – we can’t be playing catch up or sitting waiting for approvals.
- Be transparent and authentic: Trust is an incredibly important commodity, and can go away in an instant. Communicators who are in a position to advise on their organisation’s response need to keep this in mind in order to safeguard reputation – one of the most precious commodities.
- Who do you have the ear of? Hearing from our speakers, one thing was clear – they all had a voice at the table, and this enabled them to effectively influence decision making processes. As communicators, we have the opportunity to shape business decisions and outcomes, and we need to lean into this.
- Know what you stand for: when you know what your organisation stands for and you keep your stakeholder in mind, you will be making decisions with the right intent, even if they don’t hit the mark at all times.This is a great framework to use for decision making.
- Empower your people: This works both ways – communicators need to be empowered to make decisions, and we, in turn, need to empower our employees to have conversations and engage with their organisation. They can be powerful advocates and this is something that we can leverage for success.
In addition, it’s important that communicators today work with ability, manage stakeholders and get on with their teams, have project management skills, and, above all, common sense. By focusing on these, regardless of your level, you will be well positioned to take your career to the next level.
On behalf of the IABC NSW Board, thank you to Andrew, Mikeela and Karen for sharing your insights, and to all who attended.
Our next event How can you better manage your organisation’s reputation?, featuring Karina Keisler, Cricket Australia’s Executive General Manager of Communications and Stakeholder Engagement, will be held on Tuesday, 26 March 2019 from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm. Tickets are on sale now. We hope to see you there!