Monday, November 17, 2008

Communicating Communications

Congratulations to Sunday Life for covering a day in the life of a Strategic Planner in yesterday?s issue. I, like many who work in the communications industry, often find it difficult to explain what I do on a daily basis. My boyfriend thinks I do a lot of googling, my grandparents think that I make ads for fried chicken and my friends think I?m just privy to a lot of magazine launches.

?Consuming Passion? acted as a good advert for the industry and in particular, Saatchi & Saatchi. It explained well, what most of us strive to do on a daily basis ? ?to understand the dreams and inhibitions of a consumer and what drives people to buy?. Unfortunately, it did not cover the groundwork most of us have to do for the first few years in the industry.

I find it ironic that we work in the ?art? of communications but do a relatively poor job of communicating what we as an industry, are all about.

I attended a conference last week where one of the topics ? Skills for the future ? was discussed at length. The debate was about how the industry can do a better job at attracting talented people and retaining them. From my experience, I think it is about laying down the ground rules from the start.

At university, most students are encouraged to develop their communications skills via presenting, group work and essay writing but upon entering the industry they find themselves checking lists of spots over and over again interspersed with making coffees and cleaning the kitchen. The expectations shaped by education don?t match reality.

Programs such as ?The Gruen Transfer? and articles such as ?Consuming Passion? do a great job of showing potential recruits where they may end up but I think we need to get involved at the point of education to normalise expectations and recruit people who are willing to learn the basics before running the company. After all we wouldn?t want to be victims of our own false advertising would we?