Communicate Influence

Stellar communication skills are the stand-out feature in first month’s interviews

authentic voice

In this new Convergence section we aim to more fully explore the intersection of marketing, journalism and communications by highlighting common themes and essential elements in the first month’s interviews.

We’re keen to hear what you think as we work to develop and cultivate conversations around the synergy between marketing, journalism, and communications. And if you have any feedback, we’d love to hear from you!

When Communicate Influence went live on January 11, it published a diverse range of interviews with professionals who all have one thing in common – outstanding communication skills.

Each person we interviewed in month number one is a successful business owner, employee, or has achieved something significant in their chosen field. Success and significance are rarely achieved without an ability to speak, write, or answer questions in ways that are persuasive, influential, or memorable.

The power and value of superb communication comes across most strongly in Margo Purcell’s interview on working with a facilitator. It’s usually a lack of communication skills in the first place that gets organizations to a point where they need to bring in a facilitator.

As Margo herself said: “Lack of interpersonal communication skills accounts for a significant portion of the challenges organizations experience.”

Most of us wouldn’t embrace being placed in a room with people who are unhappy or upset, and then being tasked with naming those emotions, and encouraging people to express themselves. Margo Purcell is the skilled and stellar communicator who moves people forward towards a solution or resolution.

As well as communication, perception is involved too. Margo often works with businesses and staff who are too close to a problem to see what’s really going on. How we see things and how we hear others both impact our ability to function as a valued part of an organization, to feel valued, and, of course, to communicate our own ideas.

There are times when we’ve all found ourselves in difficult or uncomfortable situations with at work or with clients.

Margo’s answers are valuable to everyone in communications, PR, marketing, and journalism, not just those in a facilitator’s session. If you want to learn a thing or two about communication and diplomacy, her interview is one to read.

When timing comes first

Communication also plays a vital role in Fiona Fenwick’s interview on reputation management. But when it comes to reputation, timing takes precedence. Fiona explores Samsung’s delay in responding to serious issues with the Galaxy Note 7, among other things.

In the world of reputation management, when you respond is just as important as how you respond.

This is just as true for individuals. Done something a bit silly or had a compromising image go viral and worried about the impact on your career? Taking responsibility means communicating quickly, clearly, and authentically.

The poet’s toolbox

When we talked to poet and essayist Alice Major we took a close look at the interplay between copywriting and poetry. This is a true fusion, whereby a way of seeing and a set of skills has been adopted and adapted by copywriters to inform and sell. Alice’s interview explores this fusion in-depth as she revisits the role of poetry in copywriting.

Granted, copywriters are primarily sales people behind keyboards, while poets strive to move us. But you’re not going to generate a sale without moving someone, and vivid descriptions are often vital to both forms or writing.

Clarity is important, too. Now, I know some of you will respond to that by citing poems by great writers which are anything but clear.

My response is that the best-loved poems – the ones we turn to during life’s major events – communicate powerfully well. If you want to be a better copywriter, or simply a better writer, Alice’s interview is a great resource.

The skills of the journalist

One of the worst forms of communication – in effect, miscommunication – was explored by journalist Karen Unland in her interview on journalism in this post-truth age. That miscommunication was fake news and lies. Bad journalism is bad enough, but fake news . . . well, it should worry us a lot and definitely be something we all say no to.

And speaking of journalism, journalists possess the right set of communication skills to become perfect content writers. They ask the right questions and know how craft copy that highlights the value of a product or service. Cameron Conaway touches on this in his interview – which is all about how to get started in the world of content marketing and strategy.

Artificial intelligence expert Nigel Willson gave us a primer on AI, what it is, and what it means for businesses, employees, and the future. He didn’t explore communication explicitly, but implied that clear communication will play a vital role as AI gains a foothold in the workplace. Said Nigel:

“It’s important to note that successful technology projects are a combination of people, processes, and technology. I say this because the faster that the technology moves, the greater the chance of the people and process element will get left behind.”

Successful technology projects are the ones that are communicated clearly. Employees need to understand what’s going to happen and why, how their jobs will change (if those jobs continue to exist), and what will be required in the future.

Without clear communication, companies are going to find themselves in a whole lot of trouble when it comes to implementing AI and providing great customer care in the future.

Sheelagh Caygill

Sheelagh Caygill is an award-winning content marketer, communications practitioner, and journalist. Based in Toronto, Sheelagh has worked for media outlets including The Edmonton Journal and The Northern Echo, as well as the corporate and non-profit sector in Canada and the U.K.

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