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  • Writer's pictureStavros Papagianneas

Key Skills to Succeed in the Communications Industry

The communications industry is rapidly growing, with more graduates entering the job market every day. Communication and media students learn how to craft messages and identify audiences. They work in journalism, marketing and PR.

Communication and media studies lay the groundwork for developing messages, understanding audiences, working with new technologies and learning fundamental communication theories. This kind of study often examines the relationship of communications with culture and society. Students may be required to learn about ethics, policy and law concerning communications, and media history and the digital landscape.

But what are the skills needed to make it in the communication industry?

I asked an open question to a group of veteran communication professionals:

What are the three top must-have skills you need to succeed in the communications sector?

This is what they said:

Daniela Vincenti, Communication Advisor Employers' Group, European Economic and Social Committee (EESC)

1. Ability to see the big picture in all shades of colours and adapt strategic communication to that picture's micro/multiple aspects. Like in a puzzle, you need to know each piece's place and positioning to put the entire picture together.

2. Clear mind and openness to anticipate trends

3. Clear planning and clear roadmaps that allow contributors to be on the same page to deliver and the reach final destination.

Robby Swinnen, Former VP, Intel Corporation

A successful leader communicates:

1. In a tone that is respectful for the past, realistic about the present, and optimistic about the future.

2. In a manner that simplifies complexity and operationalizes enterprise strategy, so that the organization, at all levels, knows at any time to make the right decisions and is able to take independent action to execute on vision and strategies. The vast majority of day-to-day execution decisions and actions are taken without the leader being present. “How will the organization behave when the leader is not in the room?”

3. In a manner that energizes and inspires the enterprise, provides purpose to its employees and creates an environment of psychological safety requiring the leadership team to be authentic, empathetic, open and humble.

Marc Whitt, Director of Media and Strategic Relations, University of Kentucky

1. Writing has always been at the foundation of the public relations profession. One cannot succeed in PR unless one master the ability to write.

2. Mastering negotiation and persuasion. Today’s strategic communicator cannot have one skill without the other. They are intertwined - like DNA - as they make up the fabric of our work. Underlying negotiation and persuasion are their key ingredients: honesty, integrity, transparency, maturity and wisdom, and an appreciation of the organization’s culture, history and goals.

3. The ability to see the "big picture" while offering critical, creative, mature, and strategically planned counsel. Today’s communicators will rise to the top when they can demonstrate an exceptional ability to see and communicate the “big picture.” This individual appreciates the value of strategic planning and the know-how to execute and evaluate a seamless, results-producing communication program.

Prof. Teodora Petrova, Department of Communication and Audiovisual Production, Faculty of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Sofia

1. Flexibility. In a constantly changing world, one must always adapt to be successful in any project or endeavour. Being flexible in different circumstances is paramount.

2.Creativity. The ability to think about a task or a problem in a new or different way.The ability to use the imagination to generate new ideas. Creativity enables you to solve complex problems or find interesting ways to approach tasks. If you are creative, you look at things from a unique perspective.

3. Entrepreneurship, professional knowledge and constant development.

Bottom line:

Effective communication is vital in today's world to gain trust, align efforts to pursue goals, and inspire positive change. When communication is lacking, important information can be misinterpreted, causing relationships to suffer and, ultimately, creating barriers that hinder progress.

Successful communicators permit themselves to listen to others; in this way, they understand what people are thinking. They can focus and communicate the big picture. Finally, to the above skills, I would like to add empathy. Empathy helps us share our ideas in a way that makes sense to others, and it helps us understand others when they communicate with us.

Picture: Josh Calabrese, Unsplash

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