The role of the communicator is changing.
After the function proved to be invaluable to the organization during the COVID-19 pandemic, connecting dispersed workforces and delivering essential updates, the profession is at a crossroads. Communicators have the opportunity to solidify their position as strategic assets and business leaders—or return to their place as order-takers.
First up is Tiffany Guarnaccia, CEO of Kite Hill PR and founder of Communications Week. As co-chair of this year’s event, we asked her to help us kick off our series by sharing what she predicts the future holds for our industry:
1. What’s the biggest transformation that is happening in communications today?
Guarnaccia: In the past year alone, we have seen an abundance of changes that forced us as communicators to pivot, re-pivot and re-strategize, which is why our industry’s transformation is an ongoing process.
The transformation we’ve undergone, prompted by the challenges we’ve faced, creates three key areas of opportunity. The first relates to the future of work and a new approach to work-life integration. We’re going beyond standardized work from anywhere (WFA) policies to the introduction of completely new approaches to team management that take into account true flexibility and balance.
Second, the role of the communicator was elevated in times of uncertainty. The new C-suite perception is here to stay: Strategic communications is vital to a company’s success in any market, especially in a volatile one.
Last but not least, the live events space has been completely upended. The necessary changes prompted by COVID-19, will usher in welcome changes. As I recently discussed with Ragan Communications and PR Daily’s CEO Diane Schwartz, we’re seeing the hybrid events model continue to grow in interest.
2. What will be the most important skill/competency for comms pros of the future?
Guarnaccia: Staying agile and nimble. At Kite Hill PR, we have paved the way and created the blueprint to define and adopt an agile workflow for the PR function through the PR Sprint™ Workflow. Staying agile, pandemic or not, is something that everyone in our industry will have to focus on. Learning how to navigate the disruption we have all experienced and are currently experiencing will only work if you incorporate and embody agility as a key value.
3. How can communicators hold onto the increased role they’ve gained during the pandemic?
Guarnaccia: As a result of our ongoing workplace evolution, recent studies have shown that communications professionals are playing a bigger role in shaping corporate culture, and it is for good reason. Communicators were the ones on the frontlines in times of crisis and disruption. Continuing to adapt and stay agile will equal future success.
The more prominent role that communicators currently have can be further secured if communications professionals at all levels prioritize and polish their skill sets as they relate to business acumen. An enduring truism about PR that has only grown more meaningful in the past prolonged pandemic period is that the best PR strategies are aligned to measurable business objectives. Remembering that will serve any PR pro extremely well.
4. What’s the biggest challenge facing communicators in the year ahead?
Guarnaccia: If we have learned anything from the pandemic, it is that the only constant is change. Uncertainty has played a large role in our lives and will continue to moving forward. With economic implications, an uphill battle on the spread of misinformation in a politically charged climate will only continue to drive us in a negative cycle.
This cycle has its own associated implications, however, we must continue to look ahead and meet these challenges head-on.
5. What’s your No.1 piece of advice for young PR pros trying to get their start?
Guarnaccia: I encourage anyone who is looking to get started in PR to find their passion, and never stop looking and learning. When you home in on your passion and find something you love and people you enjoy working with, your job will feel less like a mandate and more like something you want to do, because you enjoy it.
Even when you find what your passion is, I encourage everyone to never stop challenging themselves to look for another one. There is always more to learn and share.