Wednesday 12 June 2024

How I became a 'comms guy'.

I often refer to myself as somebody who was a librarian doing comms work who became a comms person in libraries - and then ended up as a comms person in the cultural sector.

But what does that actually mean, being a 'comms guy'?

It's not really something I worry too much about. To me, 'comms' is a function, not a professional identity. But recently, Arts Hub published an interesting article (and I hope it's not paywalled) about the growing need for communications coordinators in the arts sector and what skills you need.

It's a pretty good summary for those who are considering moving into this field of work. A particularly interesting point that it makes straight up is that there are no strict rules. For formal education, they mention comms, marketing, advertising, public relations - but you know what? My education and work experience in library and information management provided a strong grounding in understanding audiences and their needs, communicating in different tones of voice, and both gathering and disseminating information through various physical and digital channels of communication.

One criticism - which is also a criticism of many organisations when they try to hire a comms person - is the suggestion that a comms professional should also be a skilled photographer, graphic designer, video editor, etc. It's going to be rare to find a person that has all these skills - at least not to the same level as somebody who has training and a focused career in one of these areas. Better to hire a dedicated professional in each of these fields.

That said, it doesn't hurt to cover the basics of Photoshop (or Canva!) for basic image manipulation, or know how to trim and edit audio or video files on a basic level. About 90% of all my photo-editing needs have involved cropping, pasting layers, resizing or adding text.

So, if you're in a job that involves drafting lots of written content and/or a fair share of basic image editing, then maybe a stint in comms could be what you need to expand your horizons.

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