The rising expectations of digital communicators

Since starting his placement year at a PR agency, media production student, Oliver Tunmore, has been astounded by the expectation that communicators should have such in-depth and sophisticated digital skills.

Developing digital forms of media and communications have taken over the world as we know it, in just about every form. This statement should come as no surprise, particularly to those working in the field of media and communications.

As American magnate Warren Buffett once said: “It takes 20 years to build a reputation, and just five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” And this has never been more accurate than in today’s fast paced digitised world in 2018 – where, (if you think of recent examples such as Facebook’s data breach, Carillion’s catastrophic collapse and Uber’s driverless crash) it really does only take minutes, if not seconds, for the entire world to change its opinion of a brand or a person.

When I interviewed for my role at Magenta Associates, I explained to the team from the off-set that if they wanted someone who knows PR like the back of their hand, they shouldn’t hire me. But, if they wanted someone with a whole host of other transferrable skills, who would actually learn from this experience, then I was the one for them.  And here I am now, nine months into my 15-month position at the company.

I’ve always known that within the media industry generally, there are some key skills one must hold which are bound to be transferrable. Being a good communicator, a team player, organised, able to think on your feet, work at a fast pace; I could go on. And thankfully, I’ve been able to do just that – transfer my skills. I have, however, been taken aback by just how much of a demand there is for PR professionals to be digitally-savvy, at the very least, and ready to tackle the somewhat complex world of online media. From SEO and website analytics, to blogging, video and photography skills, and an awful lot more. To put it bluntly, nowadays you simply cannot afford to not understand the digital media world, if you want to succeed in PR.

I’ve also noticed that individuals have to be on every possible social media platform if they really want to get their name about the field. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Slack, you name it – you’ve got to be on it, or at the very least understand exactly how to use them and how they work from a b2b or b2c perspective. People communicate across a huge variety of different platforms. I often find myself reaching out to people I don’t even know via Twitter direct messages, because it’s easier, quicker and surprisingly, seems more personal.

So, one might ask, where does this position us, as communicators, for the future? Well, we must be flexible; we must be digitally shrewd, and above all; we must be approachable.

The road to the optimal world of work in 2018 is paved with tediously long email trails, but for communication professionals, it needn’t be. We want to talk on Twitter, Slack, even Instagram! We want everything at our fingertips and we want it now. So, to help with this, PR professionals should get online, attend webinars, go to talks, connect with people; ultimately – get yourself out there, and ensure you’re as visible as possible, and ready for the world of digital media.

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

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