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Senior practitioners brainstorm the future of the communications profession

On his visit to Melbourne for the World PR Forum, IABC Chair Kerby Meyers asked IABC Victoria to convene a roundtable of senior communications practitioners to contemplate the current and future development of the communications profession.

Joined by IABC Executive Director Chris Sorek and past IABC Chair Adrian Cropley, and generously hosted by our corporate members at Telstra, twelve corporate communications leaders gathered over lunch to deliberate Kerby’s four broad themes:

  • Where is the communications profession at today?
  • Where is the communications profession heading over the next five to ten years?
  • What are some of the issues and opportunities in getting to where we want to be?
  • Open brainstorm of ideas.

By Clayton Ford, Sponsorship Chair, IABC Victoria Board

Part 4 in a 4 part series

Senior practitioners brainstorm the future of the communications profession

For the final session of the roundtable, Kerby invited participants to brainstorm any ideas relevant to the future of the communications profession.

These included:

  • Improved literacy skills need to start in schools, not university. Academia and business could jointly lobby governments to lift literacy standards, starting in schools.
  • Accreditation for communications professionals will be important in addressing the skills gaps identified, and may play a role in increasing the attractiveness of the profession to school leavers.
  • The desirability of people from other disciplines moving into communications roles (emerging), as well as communicators moving into different functions within the business (embryonic).
  • The relative pros and cons of developing generalist or specialist skills within communications, although the size of the Australian market and lean functions tends to encourage generalist skills sets.
  • Can technology play a role in overcoming the audiences’ entrenched cynicism, by further increasing transparency? Or is it more about getting back to basics, sincerity and authenticity, and particularly the personal touch and face to face relationships?
  • As communications professionals move into the C-suite and bring a different mindset, what opportunities will that open up? Communications skills should also be increasingly present on company boards.
  • There are differences across the generations in how they consume information; packaging a story for a multi-generational audience is rapidly becoming a core skill requirement.
  • Digital communication presents greater opportunities than ever to track, measure and evaluate communications which can better build the business case and ROI for communications and drive greater credibility with the C-suite.

In closing the session, reflecting on the open brainstorm of ideas and the overall discussion, Kerby highlighted four key takeaways:

  • certification can help raise the awareness, profile, credibility and stature of the profession;
  • communicators need increasingly flexible and agile skillsets;
  • coaching is becoming a key role for communicators, within the broader business as much as within their teams; and
  • content is king, whatever the communications channel.

The roundtable was an excellent opportunity for senior leaders from the profession to take time out and reflect on these important questions. On behalf of the IABC Victoria Board, thanks to Jason Laird from our valued corporate member Telstra for generously hosting the discussion, and to Kerby Meyers for initiating and facilitating it. Thanks also to Chris Sorek and Adrian Cropley for joining us. Finally, thank to you all participants for contributing to the rich tapestry of insights, issues and opportunities outlined above. IABC Victoria is fortunate to have such a wealth of thought leadership amongst its membership.