I was recently asked to name a skill that has really helped me as a communications manager/consultant and for running my business.
The conversation got me thinking about the skills and abilities that help make a good communications person, and this is a list of the top six traits I came up with.
- ability to write well
Writing basics are a good start in communications
It sounds obvious, but you need to be able to write documents as required or at least recognise quality and issues for provided documents and materials.
I spend a lot of time collating and implementing feedback, communicating client ideas and needs to designers, pulling together information from various sources and so on – if you can’t coordinate multiple people and tasks, managing communications projects will be a tough call.
- understand various tasks and roles
I think it’s easier to work with designers, printers, marketers, programmers and the like if you have an understanding of what they do. It gives you common ground when discussing a project and a better idea of how long is required to get something done. That doesn’t mean I think I could do their jobs (I know I couldn’t!) but at least have an understanding of their expertise helps.
- confidence to take feedback professionally, not personally
Not all clients will be nice about changes to work you’ve done, and sometimes criticism is harder to take than others, so you need to be able to work with feedback rather than get offended. You also need to know when to disagree with feedback…
- good communication skills
Being able to manage a communications program, maintaining website content, preparing reports and so on are the duties of a comms person BUT they must also be able to communicate with clients and suppliers to get the job done. Clear communication saves making errors and builds goodwill which you sometimes need to call on for urgent or difficult jobs
- be versatile and creative
Different clients like to work in different ways, projects require various amounts of work and different tasks, some projects will develop in unexpected ways – there are many times that flexibility and creative problem solving come in handy.
Finding how things fit together is a valuable skill
What other traits would you look for in a communications person to work with?
Have you come across a successful comms manager who doesn’t have all these skills and abilities?