I still meet people in communications jobs who are trying to keep themselves pure. After all, they are writers, and the rules for clear writing have never changed since Aristotle's day. They don't like technology, and want to leave all that nasty stuff to the geeks... or their manager... or the ICT team... or anybody.
Yes, it's true: some communication professionals are still unfamiliar with the working principles of content management systems, search engines, and accessibility. Some profess ignorance or horror when you mention Twitter, Facebook, or even blogging. They still haven't noticed the C in ICT, or the technical in technical communicators. They barely know what the phrase social media refers to.
This is understandable if retirement is close. But tragically, some of these communication nuns are young, really young—in their twenties. Can you believe it?
They don't know what they don't know.
They probably just love writing and want a lifelong professional career writing for print, and nothing else. Fact is, technology overlaps with writing today in inescapable, substantial ways.
Content authors may be reluctant to learn how to write for the Web, but they know they must. By contrast, communication nuns still have the illusion that they are protected by their expertise. If they're aware of extra requirements, I suppose they expect a technical expert will tidy up their copy to fit the medium, acting as their personal word valet.
Yet communication experts are the very people who need to be ahead of the pack when it comes to the finer points of writing for media other than print.
To succeed as a journalist, communications adviser, editor or business writer today, you don't need a million additional skills.
But you do need an open mind and enthusiasm for exploring new things. You need to lose the idealistic notion of pure wordsmithing. It's over. Move on!
The benefits of raising your professional sights are many. Thrills, too! Confidence in today's work world of electronic communication brings respect, status, promotion, and exciting new career opportunities. It means constantly learning new things, and that's much more fun than being stuck in a rut!
This morning's paper had four ads for senior communications jobs and one for a regional online editor. They all required the confidence and knowledge I'm talking about.
- Our number one priority is a passion for multi-media storytelling...
- Contributing to the Ministry's wider media communications strategy and media outreach programme...
- ...tailor compelling stories for various mediums including web and intranet, resource toolkits, new media and video blogs...
- ...provide planning, advice, and tactical delivery across publications, web, intranet, internal communications, communications planning...
Are you a communication nun? You can change this very easily.
Start by doing the Contented Diploma in Web Content. It introduces need-to-know technical facts in the nicest possible way. As you learn, you'll see with your own eyes what we mean, because the course is a brilliant model of web content (so we're told).
After 10 hours study you'll emerge wiser, smarter, and above all more confident and enthusiastic. By studying online (the thing you hate so much) you'll experience the upside of words on the Web, and you'll get some essential skills. After you've finished, you'll feel amazed at how much you didn't know you didn't know. This is the start of empowerment.
Image via http://www.chicagonow.com
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