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The Changing Role of the Communications Manager

Updated: Dec 21, 2021

Digital technologies are affecting industry and business, and changing the way products and services are delivered and monetized. Today, they connect people, the Internet, and the material world in ways not previously known; for example, when cars, homes, farms, and patients function inextricably in a single network, everyday business remains in the past and the transformation of many industries is accelerating.

In the context of global and dynamic changes, which cover many different areas, communication does not remain unaffected by this trend; and the media is at the center of a digital revolution that frees news, information, and advertising from the technological frontiers of the print and television infrastructure.

Digitalization and networking of information make communications a very different set of practices for consumers and brands.

According to a report on the state of the business at the World Economic Forum, in four years 85 million jobs could be displaced by the "outdated" division of labor between humans and robotic technologies, while at the same time we will witness the emergence of 97 million new jobs that will be adapted to the new division of labor - between people, machines and algorithms. It is expected that AI will have a significant impact on the areas of communication management.

Modern competencies in the conditions of digital transformation

Communications is moving towards digitization technologies, which in turn requires a skilled and well-trained workforce for a new digital economy. A report from a global consulting firm providing analysis in the field of digital technologies identifies six categories of skills that employees need to possess in the future in order to succeed in the new environment. How I see them in terms of our procession:

1. Digital literacy;

2. Building technological know-how - skills for using, manipulating, and creating technologies and data;

3. "We" approach - skills for interaction, building relationships, and showing self-awareness, necessary for effective work with others, personally and practically;

4. Creating and solving - skills for creative problem solving, using empathy, logic, and new thinking;

5. Cultivation of thinking for growth - attitude to maintaining relevance, continuous learning and growth, and adaptation to change;

6. Specialized work skills - the relevant specialized skills to deal with the priorities of the local market and the specific needs of the industry.

Almost half of the surveyed communication specialists (43.3%) in the European Communication Monitor for 2020 (Zerfass, Hagelstein, & Tench, 2020) agree that competencies are intensively discussed in their country, emphasizing their importance for EU communicators. One clear result is that most practitioners (80.9%) believe in the need for continuous improvement. But the importance of building competencies varies depending on the experience of the respondents and the country in which they practice.

Communication managers say they are more aware of the need to develop competencies, while a quarter of practitioners in their 20s report only a small or moderate need to develop new skills. Awareness of the need to develop current competencies is strongest in Western and Northern Europe. The lack of competencies for data processing is particularly striking at all levels - 50.6% of communicators in Europe declare insufficient qualifications in this key area.

With the onset of the pandemic in 2020, communication departments were challenged to move partially or completely to virtual events, which posed various challenges - from engaging and retaining the audience's attention to pure perception and implementation of new technical solutions. As of May 2020, 83 million people worldwide were affected by canceled physical events due to COVID-19, and by the end of the year, this figure had increased tenfold. The trend encompasses hundreds of sporting events, conferences, and other global events that have been completely postponed or turned into virtual ones (Forbes magazine, 2020). Many events targeting different industries depend on the ability to communicate in a network or so on. networking, including a value proposition that is currently insufficiently effective in a virtual environment.

Experts expect physical events to return in predefined formats and with enhanced safety measures for participants, but until then, research and analysis of the experience of international digital professionals will provide a basis for future communicators to develop their skills to create events, in favor of the client.

A critical moment for the leaders in the communications sector is the skillful adoption of new technologies designed to change our relationships with business, government, customers, clients, and citizens (WE Brands in Motion, 2019). Michael Herman, Director of International PR and Corporate Communications at Robert Huff, says,

“I think the most important imperative is to formulate a concept for implementing AI in an ethical, transparent, and empathetic environment. Regulators cannot keep up with technology, so developers are tasked with being honest and responsive to the needs of end-users in creating the technology. If transparency is your North Star, then I think the future is incredibly bright.

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