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The Holistic Communicator. Yes, It’s “A Thing”

Has the public relations specialist, that professional who focuses on one particular area of PR, marketing or communications, been replaced by the “holistic communicator”?

According to Amy Segelin, partner at Chaloner, a national communications, PR and marketing recruitment firm in Manhattan, “The social and digital revolution has changed the specialist function drastically. The internal communications specialist in the past who created a communications plan and messaging for one audience only is a thing of the past because social media and internal hubs can be used for external and internal viewing, and now there is the video component.”

While Segelin notes that the communication specialist role is not entirely gone, “not having broader skills is dangerous. You have to have more than one tool in your toolbox. Show that you are adaptable. The wide swath of employers is looking for communicators who continuously want to learn.”

This evolution may be leading to the end of the one-note communicator. Employers seeking multi-skilled communicators – under singular job titles – can be found on job boards and LinkedIn. A financial services company was recently seeking a communications candidate with “strong written and verbal communication skills, expertise in relationship-building, experience with event planning, solid understanding of and experience working with traditional and social media, experience monitoring and measuring news coverage, engaging professional presence, strong attention to detail, and solid project management skills with the ability to manage multiple projects and deadlines at once.”

The PR, marketing and communications functions have been shaped by rapid changes in technology and tools that make sharing of news and content almost instantaneous. Additionally, budgets have been reduced, while seeking greater efficiency in reaching the media, shareholders and other key audiences. Doing more with fewer professionals has become the new normal.

“There are still a number of companies that are evolving, but they are looking for a more holistic communicator,” says Segelin, adding that this change crosses into nonprofit organizations as well.

Regardless of the uptick in recruiting for multiple skills, Segelin points out that there are still some tried and true basics that any communication professional from all generations, must master: writing and the art of effective listening. “You may be hearing but are you really listening?” These are foundational skills for any good communicator that will stand the test of time.

John Clemons

John Clemons is a senior advisor for Consultants Collective. John has built his professional credibility, reputation and experience through a wide range of award-winning, strategic employee communications and engagement programs. A former journalist and magazine editor, John has worked in management and as an executive for a number of Fortune 500 companies including AT&T, Marriott International, Raytheon Company and Walmart. His nonprofit experience includes serving as Interim Executive Director of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) and Vice President of Communications at The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. Clemons is the founder and principal consultant of Clemons Communications which provides unboxed communication solutions to meet clients’ communication needs and challenges. Among his clients have been AARP, Diversey, America Online and several small businesses. John has won numerous awards for internal communications programs and creative projects from the IABC, Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and Women in Communications. Clemons served as Chairman of the IABC International Executive Board from 2001 – 2002. He is professionally accredited with IABC and PRSA. In 2012, he was named an IABC Fellow, recognizing his many contributions to the communications profession. Clemons received his Bachelor’s degree in news journalism and Master’s degree in communications management from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.

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