Corporate communicators, how do you describe your job?

After 25 years in the business, this communicator has the answer. What’s yours?

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I started my career as a newspaper reporter. I took one public relations class in college. When I joined AT&T as editor of an employee newsletter in 1988, I knew something about writing and editing but nothing about employee communication.

What was the purpose of my job? To keep employees informed about what was going on in the business. Then I learned why—to help the business achieve its goals. That was the short answer that I stuck with for many years. There was nothing wrong with that answer except that I now understand there’s more to it.

For a long time, there was little research to back up the claim that effective employee communication had a measurable impact on business performance. Then, in 1990 and 1991, IABC released preliminary results of a four-year study called “Excellence in Public Relations and Communication Management.”

It was a thick, highly unreadable tome that was grounded in great research but ultimately not much use to anyone other than academics. Its greatest value was to define “communication excellence” and to prove that CEOs of high-performing organizations value public relations.

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