According to Ampersand's Tim James, we're seeing significant change in the skills employers require from communications professionals.
Whilst 2014 has bypassed us by in a blink of an eye, it has been a year that has again cemented the importance of highly strategic and targeted communications in order to engage and influence specific audiences, in the quest for commercial gain.
A pronounced area that continues to dominate is the adoption of digital mediums in the world of communications. One challenge that many organisations have encountered is the paradigm of how to resource such a shift. Organisations that have done this effectively have not had the luxury of bolting on additional headcount and it has very much been about the careful re-scoping communications functions to bring in the expertise. Further, it has also been about bridging the traditional chasm between corporate affairs and marketing to integrate digital expertise across both portfolios.
This digital appetite too has had a significant effect on the media landscape, born out of people’s continued hunger for ‘real time’ news and information. Like the immediacy and time pressure placed on the media to file stories in ‘real time’, so too is the pressure for organisations to communicate and engage their respective audiences, across internal or external platforms. This year we’ve witnessed leading Australian based corporates pioneering new territory with the introduction of branded newsrooms, designed to not only enhance internal advocacy but to also inform key business partners and stakeholder groups. Whilst much of the content is branded, these internal newsrooms are being used very effectively to set and embed the narrative.
Relating to internal communications, as a specialist corporate communications consultancy we have also seen a deliberate shift towards practitioners with specific change and project communication expertise. This has been coupled with a gentle shift away from the more traditional internal communication purists, to practitioners who arrive with a broader communications background; a bias towards internal communications but with a clear understanding of the external environment.
Increasingly corporate communication functions are being shaped with the necessity to be interchangeable and cross functional, as is the ability for communication practitioners to move willingly and effortlessly between the strategic and the operational. Like any discipline, as a general rule there is little demand for practitioners who are only willing to do the ‘strategy’ work.
For those who are considering a career change or move in 2015, the best advice I can provide is to develop and implement a multifaceted approach. High on the priority list is to ensure you have an informative and comprehensive LinkedIn profile that articulates your areas of expertise and the critical skills that you arrive with; secondly, to align yourself with a recruitment firm that specialises in your craft and that you trust; thirdly to utilise and discretely exploit your own professional and personal networks; and finally monitor the online job boards.
Whilst 2014 has been a solid year in terms of the number of available professional opportunities within communications, 2015 is tipped to step it up again in the communications space. What is for certain, we must make 2015 count because in the blink an eye it will be gone.
As General Manager of Ampersand in Melbourne, Tim also heads up Ampersand’s Corporate Affairs Practice across Asia Pacific. Ampersand is one of the regions leading executive, search and advisory firms who connect people with people, people with brands and people with possibility.Tim arrives with more than 13 years of experience working in Corporate Affairs, Marketing and Product positions with one of the world’s leading luxury brands, BMW Group.