Despite so much world-shaking turmoil over the last couple years, Ragan Communications continues to adapt and find new ways to thrive.
The company this week announces the hire of Mary C. Buhay as chief growth officer and head of councils. Buhay brings more than 25 years’ worth of communications experience to the table, boasting an impressive background that spans numerous industries and leadership roles.
Below, Buhay shares a bit about herself, her career trajectory, and her vision of where the world of communications is heading:
Ragan: What aspects of communication and related workplace issues are you most passionate about?
Buhay: It is energizing to be at the frontier where the modern workplace is emerging. Communicators are helping people make sense of the staggering changes in their work lives, which affect both business and personal decisions. I am especially committed to supporting communication leaders who are setting best practices and keeping organizations accountable for DE&I, ESG reporting, workplace wellness, upskilling and reskilling, and other actions that shape corporate reputations and the competition for talent and customers.
Ragan: Which communication trends do you see rising in importance post-pandemic, and which tactics or “traditional ways of doing things” are on the way out?
Buhay: Shrinking an operation down to tasks and transactions can reveal many small inefficiencies where technology can shine as a hero. When communicators are dealing with a situation that is developing rapidly or on a grand scale, such as a global pandemic or supply chain crisis, they will need planning tools based on artificial intelligence that can reveal patterns or anomalies from big datasets in real-time.
On the other hand, people’s emotions are not accessible in the same way. What hasn’t changed? Stories, the smallest unit of human experience that can be shared, are life’s currency. Communicators must still ask the smart questions and establish context to add business value to raw stories. There are few substitutes for a customer testimonial, an employee endorsement, or a peer recommendation in determining the worthiness of a brand, an organization or individual.
Ragan: What advice would you give young, aspiring communicators? What skills should they hone and focus on building?
Buhay: Yes, there are news cycles, quarterly earnings and project deadlines. But now you are communicating at the speed of life. Some skills will serve you well throughout your career: persuasive writing, active listening, public speaking, and business planning that’s informed by context and not merely by constraints.
Then there are characteristics that will steady you through the storms: empathy, resiliency, a spirit of inquiry that leads to action, and generosity in earning a win that does not have to be someone’s loss (and vice versa).
Ragan: What are you most excited about in this new role?
Buhay: Members who participate in Ragan’s Communications Leadership Council (CLC) and PR Daily Leadership Network (PRLN) are always uncovering new areas where communications can close a gap between their organizations and stakeholders. Maintaining the competitive edge in communications talent development is among their highest priorities.
In this new role, I am excited to collaborate with CLC and PRLN members to make sure they and their teams can rely on Ragan’s comprehensive resources, experts and communities to keep expanding their knowledge and sharpening their skills.
Ragan: What message would you like to share with comms pros heading into 2022?
Buhay: By joining the CLC or PRLN, you unlock a treasure trove of resources, expertise and experiences in an exclusive professional community. You gain new knowledge with the added benefit of being able to extend essential resources to your own team.
For example, senior executives can sign up for one-on-one coaching to strengthen leadership skills or join peer groups to trade practical insights on emerging practices. Team contributors can tap into an archive of programs, articles and research, or take part in facilitated training to sharpen techniques. Ragan Communications is the indispensable source that CLC and PRLN members rely on for tailored education and peer exchanges via virtual or in-person settings, with options for access on demand or livestreaming.
Can you say, “Open, Sesame?”