Never take your ‘communications expert’ status for granted

social-371650_1280When you work in communications you must be prepared to explain, and sometimes defend, the very basics of your discipline.

No matter how much experience you have, you can never assume that internal clients will heed your advice, just because you are an ‘expert’. What passes for commonly accepted wisdom within communications circles means nothing to a colleague if you can’t explain it properly.

It’s standard practice to ask diagnostic questions before taking on a piece of work for an internal client. For example, asking about target markets, audiences and messaging. But even these most basic of basic questions can seem pointless or unnecessary to those you advise, especially if they are pushed for time.

In the past I’ve heard variations of, “Why are you asking me these questions about what our customers want when we’ve already decided we want a new website/blog/newsletter/press release” [insert whichever word fits your situation]. Perhaps this sounds familiar?

I’ve often wondered, if you were a doctor would you get the same questioning of your method? It seems hard to imagine a patient asking why you wanted to ask questions about their health, in advance of recommending surgery, such as removing their appendix.

It’s easy to assume, as a communications specialist, that your consultation approach and process is self-explanatory to the client, and that they should bow to your superior knowledge and wisdom. But communications just isn’t like that.

Over the course of your communications career you become used to being challenged on the basics. And you must be ready therefore to explain the fundamentals, in simple terms, over and over again.

In my view, that’s not a bad thing. It keeps you mentally fit and forces you to keep your long-held assumptions under review. It also helps you to avoid complacency, and from taking your communications position for granted.

For more on providing communications advice, see: Good communication provides ‘good medicine’

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