Discover our new series IABC/Montréal: Member spotlight. Our members share their views on the most significant changes they see happening in the practice of communication and their impacts; they discuss trends that will continue to grow or will die off; they make suggestions on what communications professionals could do differently to be of best value to stakeholders; and they provide valuable advice to the new generation breaking into the communication industry today.
What do you find yourself spending most of your time doing in the sphere of communications these days?
I spend the majority of my time counselling leaders helping them to attain their business objectives by assessing stakeholder reactions and shaping company and public policies. The diversity of the issues I assess and advise on is what I find most stimulating about my role and the role of my team.
What are the biggest changes that you see in the practice of communications today?
When I graduated from University and entered the workforce, Chief Communications Officer (CCO) roles didn’t exist. It was often the head of Marketing, HR or Government Relations who lead organizational communications. Nowadays most major companies have both a global CCO and a Canadian one, and it’s a role that reports into the C-suite. There aren’t that many Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) — or certainly not successful ones — who don’t know the true value and importance of PR.
In your opinion, what could we as communication professionals be doing differently to be of the most value to our stakeholders?
To be successful in communications you need to be attuned to political and social issues, understand how public policy is developed and be an advocate/ambassador for your company and products. Taking a worldview is important as information flows freely from one region to another.
What is a trend or theme that you think will continue to grow, and/or what will die off?
Trend that will continue to grow
The relevance of social media especially as a conduit for consumer/stakeholder activism; expectations from Canadians for increased transparency from government and corporations.
Trend that will die off
Corporate ads in traditional media (print, TV). Authentic conversations and earned media trump slick corporate ads when it comes to bolstering corporate reputation.
What is your advice for young people considering entering the field of communications today?
“Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” That’s been my guiding aspiration and I can fortunately report I’ve found the right career for me.
Communications and public relations is a respected executive level function that provides strategic value to businesses across every sector. Communications professionals often have varied backgrounds, including: political science, law, business, and marketing, to name a few. If you are a person who thrives in a fast-paced and dynamic environment, you should consider PR as your career.
Rhonda O’Gallagher is Vice President, Corporate Affairs at Pfizer Canada Inc.