bobbie smith

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author, message master, strategist, speaker, artist (ink), social media & arts promoter

Thursday, September 13, 2012

What do you do? Communications. Huh?

One of the things I've noticed over the years about working in Communications is the lack of understanding of what it is we do. It goes from zero idea of what 'working in communications' means to 'but what is it really that you do?'

I suppose over time I have had to learn what it all means, too. I recall asking the difference between communications and marketing in a communications class at University of Ottawa. I'm not sure I can recall the answer, but I do recall the indignation of my fellow students who could not believe I'd ever consider the two the same function.

There is much variety in the profession, and there is even more interpretations.

I have heard or overhead people refer to Communications as the following:
  • marketing
  • media relations (some people believe media relations to be writing press releases. some of those people actually work in communications, too.)
  • public relations (some people have difficulty explaining the differences between media and public relations! and some people can't make up their mind what the differences are.)
  • advertising
  • writing stuff that isn't true
  • telecommunications
  • managing websites
For some reason, if I say, 'oh it's like marketing', then they know what that means. 
Or, if I say media relations, that, too, gets a comprehensive nod, but the term communications is simply too broad and too vague for numerous folks to appreciate my job. I can't say that I do a lot of writing because that doesn't explain it either--even though I do tend to do a lot of writing. 

Perhaps the easiest way to describe what I do is to say that I help organizations figure out what to say, when and how to their employees and to the public. I often get a blank stare in response, not because they don't understand; they just can't fathom that this could be or is somebody's job. Don't organizations know what to say and when to say it to their people? Isn't that common sense?

I agree. It is common sense...to me. But when you run an organization, sometimes you're either too close to it to see the bigger picture or you've not had enough experience to realize the fallout of certain communications faux-pas. It's always better to double-check with a professional.


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