Monday, February 18, 2013

Jobs in communication

Jobs in "communication" come in many forms. They may relate to B2C communications, B2B communications or internal business communications. These jobs also come with various titles, such as Public Relations Manager, Communications Officer or Strategic Communications Consultant.

In this brief blog-essay, I want to try to think about the scope of these jobs. What exactly are activities that people with expertise in communications are involved with? And to what degree is the expertise differentiated?

First, I will define "communication" for the sake of this essay as a process by which ideas are sent and received.

At a very basic level, one might imagine jobs in communications to involve three types of stakeholders: (1) Those who provide ideas, (2) those who process ideas and (3) those who communicate these ideas.

Type 1 stakeholders - those who provide ideas - seem to relate to people who are experts in other fields and provide knowledge that is to be communicated. So they could actually be anyone - from interns, to researchers, to managers - who contributes their experience because it matters to the good or service being provided.

Type 2 stakeholders - those who process ideas - seem to relate to people who design communication. They may be graphic experts, data scientists, financial analysts or creative writers who take a mess of ideas and compose them into something that makes sense. These people have an eye for what looks and sounds interesting.

Type 3 stakeholders - those who communicate ideas - seem to relate to those who have an eye for what people "out there" actually want to hear. This might sound like people in the second case, but people in the second case may be on the edge of the market, innovating new ways of understanding things. Here, in the case of people who speak the peoples' language, it is all about appealing to existing demand and tastes, no matter what the content of the message is.

Of course, all three types of stakeholders could exist in a single job description, from collecting content, designing the way it is to be presented, and presenting it. But these seem to spread across most roles involving communication.

One of the biggest loopholes I see in most communication jobs is the absence of receiving information, as defined above. In order to do well at communicating, communicators (especially in stakeholder type 3) need to be good listeners. Otherwise how would they (again, type 3 especially) know what is demanded, what is preferred, whether what they are about to say is even going to get any attention? In short, communication happens out in the open among clashing voices, not in a vacuum.

Now, where would communication be without language?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Serendipity

According to my favorite source of definitions:

Serendipity means a "happy accident" or "pleasant surprise"; specifically, the accident of finding something good or useful while not specifically searching for it.

I came across the word recently while trying to figure out a blog post title. It reminded me of a prayer I had once read that goes like this:

God grant me the serenity 
to accept the things I cannot change; 
courage to change the things I can; 
and wisdom to know the difference. 
(Reinhold Niebuhr found here)