Our Issues and Community Specialist, Sue Driscoll, is not just an established communicator of over 25 years working both at agencies and in-house, she is a tertiary educator of communications at various Victorian universities, a former journalist and chief sub-editor, a member of numerous boards of community organisations and Life Fellow of the Public Relations Institute of Australia.
Sue has worked with over 100 hospitals and other community organisations specialising in stakeholder engagement, strategic planning, issues preparedness and crisis communications. Here are some of her thoughts on communicating in this space.
What are the most common problems health and community organisations face, and what mistakes do they make?
Limited resources and the management of resources – due to budget restraints, management has in the past made the mistake of thinking one person can do the job (communications) and that has made work increasingly challenging for communicators, with the level of professionalism and responsibilities expected of them rising, and no time to meet them. But now, organisations are beginning to understand that to become more efficient, they need to invest in communications whether through expanding internal teams or looking to external help through an agency.
What are your top three communication tips for organisations and communicators alike?
One: a key element to remember is communications planning. Back up your planning with research; make sure you have a thorough strategy on how to achieve your objectives; and then two: actually abide by that plan. Sometimes even the most experienced communicators can go through the planning process, but don’t end up sticking to the plan. Three: don’t restrict yourself to what everyone else in the industry is doing; look for good ideas outside the sector.
Where do you think the future of the industry is heading?
I think the industry will continue on this path towards more professionalism and more demands on their expertise, particularly with the increasing digital media landscape. When working with digital media, communicators need to be sophisticated with their planning and evaluation, as well as always staying up to date with the latest developments.
There will be an increasing need for professionals who understand modern communications at a senior level. Often, senior executives think they know and understand these new ways of communicating, but don’t. Digital platforms need to be understood from the top down in organisations and it’s important to train CEOs and other senior executives in these areas.
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