A survey reveals what it takes for communicators to manage the job well “You’re supposed to manage?” “I basically wing it.” “I lick my fingertip to see which way the wind is blowing.” Those were three of the verbal responses to the question “Which of the following do you use to manage the communication function?” on a recent global survey, “State of the Profession 2007,” conducted by Ragan Research. More than 1,000 professionals participated, mostly managers and directors, on every continent, and in organizations of every size and industry. The survey respondents quoted above speak for many who still find the profession a simple matter of common sense and craft, both politically and technically. But others do see an array of established methods that communication professionals can acquire through education and master in application to manage the function. Here they are, in order of the number of survey respondents who identified them us useful. 1. Strategic planning that aligns communication with business strategy: 76.6 percent. Perhaps the most important development in the history of the profession—in fact, the development that transformed a craft into a profession—strategic planning is recognized as the foundation of the practice, the central method for organizing work, integrating messages, supporting our organization’s goals and demonstrating our worth. Too bad about that one-fourth who don’t plan. They show up in other parts of the survey bemoaning lack of budget, staff and executive support. 2. Ongoing professional development: 73.2 percent. It used to be just a couple of professional associations and companies that gave workshops for communicators. Now, anyone with a Web site can. The proliferation of workshops, conferences, retreats, seminars, fellowships, on-site programs, webinars, teleseminars, virtual webinars, undergraduate and graduate degrees— on virtually any topic, including the 14 listed here—all speak to the vibrancy of the profession. Growth is a sign of health; education is the way professions grow.