Posted by: Kristen Ridley | November 10, 2010

The other side of the coin: GREAT things about being a communicator

coins  I do a fair bit of tongue-in-cheek, grumbling-type posts about the life of a communicator, and I make plenty of fun about the idiosyncracies that go along with this job, [for proof, see last week’s well-received post: How to make a communicator violent in one easy step]. But the truth is I absolutely cannot imagine doing anything else for a living, and I wouldn’t WANT to do anything else for a living!!

I thought it would be nice, just for a change of pace, to list the things that make this such a great job, so those hardy souls who read this blog regularly would see that I AM capable of looking on the bright side.

So, here we go – The top 5 GREAT THINGS about being a communicator:

5. You get access to the leaders at the highest level in your business
As the communicator in the business, you will need to get information, insights, or, at the very least, sound-bytes or quotes, from the people who make the biggest decisions in your organization. Those people often want to talk to the entire company, and when they do, the communicator tends to be the person they call to facilitate that. This has two key [and pretty cool] benefits: 1) You get to talk directly with the leaders at the very top of the business about the business strategy and objectives, which is rare, because that kind of access is typically strictly limited; and, 2) You get to ask those people direct, tough questions and actually GET ANSWERS!! If you care about your company and want to help it succeed this is a unique and exciting perk. I’ve learned so much just from being around senior leaders through the years – both job-related insights, and also what to do [erm, and NOT do!] to be successful and respected as a business person generally. Not everybody gets this opportunity in their day-to-day job and I love it and take full advantage of it.

4. There is endless variety in this job
Honestly, where else can you: interview peers for an intranet article, research and write a news release announcing the quarterly financial results, source images for the annual report, work on creating a communication plan to launch a new company learning program, consult with colleagues in other countries about your projects and how they might apply to other divisions in your global organization, manage the relationship with the company’s PR agency, field calls from media members, and help HR explain the benefits re-enrollment program to employees in a way that makes sense, ALL IN THE SAME DAY?! In most of my communication jobs, that list is about as “typical” a day as I ever have! The life of a communicator is full of constantly changing projects, priorities and demands, so while the list above may not sound like heaven to everyone, to me, it’s pretty cool to know that every single day when I arrive at my desk, there’s going to be a vast array of opportunities to learn something, try something, or fix something in a new and different way – if I’m creative and willing to take on challenges. Communications is the perfect job for someone with a slightly ADHD brain who hates being bored – which describes most of the communicators I know – because you’re constantly doing something new.

3. The work I do makes a real difference in other people’s lives
Don’t get me wrong – I know that I’m not curing cancer or ending world hunger here! I work in a corporate setting, and I’m talking and writing about corporate “stuff”. But to the people who work at my company, or the customers who use the products or services my company provides, the “stuff” I create has the opportunity to deliver real, responsive, clear, honest information, and in this era of “reality TV” [an oxymoron – emphasis on the “moron” – if I EVER heard one!] and people who spend a large proportion of their time interacting through a computer instead of with actual live people, that kind of genuineness and responsiveness is nothing to sneeze at! There are days – not every day, I admit, but enough to keep me going – when the information I write helps employees truly understand why the company is a good place to work, or how to make sure their kids are enrolled in the benefits program, or what the heck the executives are talking about at the Town Halls. So when I have the tough days, I remind myself that the work I do truly helps other people most of the time, and, at worst it doesn’t hurt any other people [if it does, then you are the communicator in the wrong place and I seriously recommend re-evaluating]. More than once through the years I’ve been doing this job, an employee, or a customer, or – you might want to sit down for this one! – a reporter, has told me that they trust and depend on the information I give them, because they know that I won’t “B.S. them with the company line”. I am truly humbled and flattered when I hear that, and I work hard at continuing to be the kind of communicator that people say that to. Tell me it isn’t cool to have a job – in a corporate environment – where people say things like that to you?!

2. I get to talk to people – all day, everyday
Most of the communicators I know are extremely gregarious, social people. There are a few introverts in the ranks, but by and large the communicator is wired to be a “people-person” – the very nature of the job kinda demands it. So, the fact that the work we do, and the products we create are by, about, and for people, means that we have to talk to people to get the material for those products. And while people can be quirky, cranky, confused, unhelpful, obstructionist, and a host of other problematic things, for a social type like me, the very fact that I get to talk, and, more importantly, LISTEN to them every single day is a gift. Even when they make me crazy, I would much rather spend my days in the comfort of a nice office talking to colleagues, customers and stakeholders than, say, cleaning toilets [I don’t even like cleaning my own toilet], being a dental hygienist [sticking my hands in someone else’s mouth? Yuck!], or being a mortician [seriously, can you think of a worse job? I can’t – no offense to morticians of course. I mean, SOMEBODY has to do that job – I’m just glad it isn’t ME!!]

and the NUMBER ONE absolute BEST THING about being a communicator??

1. I get to write for a living!!
Now, if you don’t happen to be a writer/word-nerd like me, this may not seem like a benefit to you, but for those of us who actually read the dictionary for pleasure, or who pretended to be Jane Austen or Charles Dickens when we were small, filling notebooks, random napkins, or, in a pinch, our mother’s walls [my tushy still smarts a bit from mom showing me how she felt about my “creative license” to this day!!] with our meandering, limitless, deep thoughts on all and sundry topics, this is the ultimate nirvana way to earn a living. True, as a corporate communicator, I don’t get to write the great American [or, in my case, Canadian] novel, at least not on the company dime, but I DO get to write. Almost every single day, I get to write something. Since I’m a writer to the very marrow of my bones, this is best thing ever!!! The fact that they pay me to do it – that’s just gravy.

There they are – my top five reasons I love my job. Now it’s your turn. What are the things YOU love about the creepy and the kooky, mysterious and spooky, and altogether ooky, [Gratuitous classic TV reference: I loved The Addams Family, and it just seemed to fit in perfectly here! ;-)] life of a communicator? Please share, I’d love to hear others thoughts on the good things about being the company chatterbox.

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Responses

  1. When you work in a company that covers many different areas (of work or geography), you have a legitimate excuse to ask questions to understand all those areas. Like being a reporter, it’s a licence to be snoopy.

  2. Good point Nancy. Also, it’s an excuse to do “the Snoopy dance”!

    😉

  3. I get to read about cool stuff and I get to play on the internet researching upcoming trends. I do get bored from time to time, but for the most part, being a communicator is a lively job that allows me to be creative.

    Great thoughts, Kristen!

  4. Thanks for dropping by Susan! Yes, doing trend research is definitely a perk of our jobs.

    I had one job, back when many companies blocked more websites than they allowed. But because of my role [at the time doing both internal AND external comms] I was able to get special permission from IT to access sites nobody else could to allow me to be on top of what the outside world was saying about our organization.

    I must say I felt quite priviledged, in spite of the fact that it was silly to block those sites from anyone!

  5. I was just thinking about this on my morning drive in…I love writing for a living! Great post, Kristen.


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