coping mechanisms for comms people

There can be a lot of frustration as a comms person. Here are a few ways to count to 10 breathe, relax and work out plans to make your job easier.

By Caroline King 

While flicking through Twitter yesterday lunchtime I was drawn to an article by Eddie Coates-Madden, Assistant Head of Services, Communications and Marketing at Hull City Council - @pseudograph.

Eddie has created a great blog post about the wonders or perils of working in comms which he referred to as -the comms team credit matrix, aka damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

I responded on Twitter by saying that over the years I have developed some coping mechanisms and a few frustrated comms people asked me to share them with Twitter so here goes.

First of all my observations on comms people and my own self-reflections which might explain away some of the “why is this happening to me?” questions.

You think differently and talk a different language – Your client thinks; “I need a photo with the whole senior management team wearing hard hats with the chairman cutting a ribbon.” You’re thinking – please no – WHY?!

You are pretty scary and unpredictable – I started to notice that the people who approached me or the Comms team were nervous. Walking into the so-called creative zone and not really knowing what to say must be tough, largely because the comms response is difficult to predict.

You are a control freak – Yes you are! I have learned that a wonky font does not a breakdown make and I’m trying to chill out too. Seriously you should try it.

So what are my top tips for coping?

Invest in relationships – I spend a lot of time talking. Show interest and people will open up. Store up the nuggets and when there are enough pieces of the jigsaw you can put the comms wheels in motion.

Be a trusted advisor –If you ask the right questions then you can get involved in the thinking early doors, not three days before launch. Be proactive and manage your relationships. Make contact, show interest, keep your finger on the pulse, anticipate needs and be there to support every step of the way. It will transform how people deal with you.

Put a framework in place – This is a very hard balance to strike. Simple brand guidelines and templates really help people. If you over complicate this then people withdraw and may even embark on my pet hate - DIY graphic design.

Spread your wings – Get involved in everything and anything.  You have a natural ability to think clearly and make sense out of mess. You can pass this gift on to others who will thank you, trust me.

Be thankful and keep smiling - I keep close to my heart how lucky I am to work in a fab place, having the freedom to dream up mad-cap ideas, talk to anybody who crosses my path and be given a set of colourful marker pens when the urge to scribble gets the better of me.

Hang on in there and accept that working in comms is like being in the Twilight zone most of the time and if it isn’t, find a new job that’s a lot less interesting.

Caroline King is head of communications and engagement at Helena Partnerships who are about to recruit for two new comms team members. Follow @HelenaPartnersh to find out more.

Picture credit.