Judy Smith, founder and president of Smith & Company recently spoke at the Massachusetts Conference for Women. For those who are not familiar with Smith, she is the real-life inspiration for Olivia Pope on the ABC series Scandal.
I joined the packed session to learn about Crisis Management from the leading expert, who inspired the phrase “It’s handled.” Smith ignited the crowd, sharing stories of how as a young lawyer she started in crisis communications and her diverse experience, including working as Special Assistant and Deputy Press Secretary to President George H. W. Bush.
In addition to gaining additional insight and key lessons learned from Smith’s experience in crisis management roles, she also shared advice to young communicators. Her best advice for professionals breaking into the business: gain a diversified background in communications.
As communicators, we may focus on a specific industry or expertise. However, there are several ways we can extend our knowledge and grow our communications skillset.
- Expanding your skillset – Today’s role as communicators is expanding. Gone are the days where a career in PR would mean media relations. Today’s PR practitioners are engaging in digital production, content management, SEO, e-marketing and social media. In my experience, expanding my skillset as a communicator has helped enhance counsel to clients and enable personal growth opportunities.
- Growing your knowledge – Knowledge is power. Keeping on top of the current state of communications and the industries we support can help expand our knowledge and bring additional creativity to our roles.
- Diversifying your interests – Get involved in outside organizations that interest you, and expand your background. Ask to join cross functional teams to help learn about other roles and opportunities within your organization.
- Being adaptable – Adaptability measures your capacity to absorb change and sustain high levels of performance. As communicators, we are often at the forefront of change. Being able to adjust easily can enable us to take on new challenges.
What are some ways that you have expanded your background in communications?