Loving communications work is a little like loving torture. My job is at its best when things get bad.
I attended meetings today where it was my job to advise on communicating to a group of people who are angry (largely due to a gap in communications). My job was to find out why they are mad, fill the communication holes and make them not mad. (Note, happy is not the goal, just informed and not mad.) Easy right? Until you realize that most of the mad people are so mad that they don’t want you to fix it, they just want to be mad. Providing a solution will just divert them to another topic. Common sense is not a given. The challenge for my skills to make sure that the “mad” is deflected and diffused long enough for them to calm down and listen to the information they need. Hard, awesome and why I love my job. It’s a bit like that chess game in Harry Potter. Move, counter move try, not to get smashed to bits. It may be a sort of sickness, but my best day is also the same day I hear myself saying “I was just in the place where common sense goes to die”.
I got into communication because I knew I wanted to write and edit for a living. Communications seemed the way to do that while still having a regular paycheck. (I’m totally addicted to security…and cake.) I thought that the other work in communications was the price I’d have to pay to write and editing for a living while not wondering how to feed myself and pay rent. I was so deliciously wrong.
On top of that I also got a message today from a friend who recently suffered a loss. She was thanking me for a poem I wrote for her that touched her. How amazing. That has got to be the bet feeling in the world.
Some days are just good.
Most of my writing is corporate. I write news releases and media lines, reports and briefing notes, and occasionally I get the pleasure of writing a corporate message on a really tough topic. It stretches me, in a good way, like yoga (note I can not actually do the plow pose…yet). It may not sound creative, but corporate messages take a great deal of creativity. They require the writer to be clear and concise, using language that is gentle and accessible while somehow communication challenging and complicated messages. Wheee. I usually create messages by identify my audience, researching the problem and identifying three key messages I want the audience to take away. Then the fun begins. Find an issue in your local news or even at your place of employment. Take a moment to research the problem then write a message. Try to be clear and direct, skate the line between rude and fawning. Then when you’re done try to find an actual corporate message on the topic to compare your results. Happy writing.
Note: News releases, interviews and recent events sections on websites are a good source of the corporate messages you need to find. And remember messages are written but not always delivered in writing.)