How to get ahead as a… communications manager
Combining creativity, digital know-how and the ability to connect people, the role of a communications manager is one of small talk and big ideas.
If the next step in your communications career is in sight, but you’re in need of a few hints and tips to properly advance into the new phase, we’ve got you covered with this handy guide to getting ahead in a managerial role.
The role of a communications manager
A communications manager’s duty, broadly speaking, is to promote a company’s mission, products and/or services. Working closely with management teams and executives to shape a company’s image and values, as well as the appropriate methods to communicate them to the public.
Responsibilities include identifying press opportunities and developing content for distribution via social media, websites, newsletters, press releases and any other distribution channels deemed suitable. Through this communication and content, the communications manager has to ensure its messaging aligns with key business strategies. Additionally, they may also serve as a company’s media liaison and formal spokesperson, conducting briefings and press conferences.
Usually, they’ll be leading a team, which means they’ll be responsible in terms of hiring and training new staff, conducting performance reviews, and handling disciplinary matters. The communications manager will also be responsible for developing strategies, policies and procedures and ensuring that everyone is adhering to them. Monitoring what the competition is doing and responding in a manner that remains competitive is also key.
Other duties of communications manager include holding key responsibilities for initiatives relating to marketing communications, including special events promotions. They’ll be a point of contact between managers and outside vendors if necessary, as well as provide support and guidance to other managers, helping them plan for market and public relations tasks and ensuring strategy aligns with the business’ objectives.
The skills of a communications manager
Due to the outward-facing nature of the role, a communications manager must have strong communications and people skills, be highly organised in their approach and have to adapt quickly to a variety of high-pressure situations. Alongside this, the ideal communications manager is especially skilled in writing and editing.
Working in a fast-paced environment, the need to come up with creative, fresh ways to communicate ideas and promote their organisation is essential. And with that, time management skills come to the fore; not only in terms of prioritising, but also knowing the right time to send out press information. Posting statuses to social media or sending email marketing campaigns can make all the difference depending on when they’re posted.
An analytical mind will serve you well. Feedback is quicker and more useful; something that traditional marketing methods may lack. As a result, the uncertainty of your communications strategies’ effectiveness is lessened; information is easily accessible in real time, so you adjust accordingly if necessary. The right person will be adept at handling statistics, translating analytics into insights where they can be used to improve marketing strategies.
The ideal candidate will also be particularly tech-fluent, and adept at keeping up with the rapid developments of the digital world. Whether it’s a new social network that’s gaining popularity or new Google search algorithms, the need to stay savvy is very important. Active use – as opposed to merely a familiarity – of such things is key; as things develop so too must your skills.
Those who are looking to progress into the managerial side of communications, vision, self-motivation and a desire for personal growth are highly valuable attributes needed to prosper. There’s a lot of variety throughout the week, so it’s hard to describe a typical day in such a role; it’s a fast-paced job where things can change at a moment’s notice, so staying calm under pressure is very much essential.
What training or qualifications are needed?
Typically, the role requires a bachelor’s degree with a minimum of five years of experience in communications. Obviously, degrees in marketing and communication should stand you in good stead, though other areas of study such as journalism, psychology or advertising would be beneficial too if you’ve decided on a career change and you’re looking to get a start in communications as a whole.
It’s highly recommended that you become familiar with the Associated Press Stylebook; it’s the go-to style guide for a lot of professional writers, and pretty much an essential in the field of communications and PR.
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