What Communications Executives Are Thinking About

Photo courtesy of Heather Harder
Photo courtesy of Heather Harder

I recently attended the Arthur W. Page Society Spring Seminar as part of the Society’s annual case study competition in corporate communications. Page is a selective society for senior public relations and corporate communications executives who mostly represent Fortune 500s and the world’s largest public relations agencies.

Aside from discovering that the New York Times’s most-shared story, the dialect quiz, was written by an intern, I left the seminar with numerous insights from today’s executives.

Executives are willing to help.
When I was told I would be brushing elbows with 275 of the leading communications executives, I was worried they wouldn’t want to talk to a college student. I could not have been more wrong. This field is full of people who genuinely want to see young professionals grow and succeed. The next time you have the chance to talk to a CEO or CCO, take it.

Stop being afraid of numbers.
It is important to understand data and explain its implications from a public relations perspective. Page members advocate for the CCO to have a seat at the business table. To do this, communications professionals must make data-driven decisions and have a basic understanding of finance. While public relations students sometimes jest about not being good at math, we must embrace working with numbers.

Millennials are under the microscope.
Senior leaders are looking to connect with millennials, both as consumers and as employees. As millennials, we have the advantage of relating to other millennial consumers. Research from Buzz Marketing Group found that millennials long for a sense of purpose and opportunities for growth in the workplace. This MSLGROUP infographic is just one example of research on millennial trends.

Be flexible.
Gone are the days when it was acceptable to create a marketing plan six months in advance. We live in a 24/7 media world where change comes quickly. As Aaron Dignan from Undercurrent put it, if you’re driving a boat, you won’t just steer once and see where you end up; you will continue steering as you go. This analogy relates to planning. Your communications plan must evolve as times change.

Think like a disruptor.
This year’s seminar theme was “Be a disruptor.” Being a disruptor does not mean causing problems in the office. It means innovating and challenging the typical way things are done. Entrepreneurs are disruptors. They think creatively and make positive changes occur. Today’s teams need to embrace entrepreneurial spirits.

Have you learned any lessons from communications executives? If so, share them below.

This is a guest post written by PRSSA 2013-2014 Vice President of Member Services Heather Harder. Follow her on Twitter @HeathHarder

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