Is the communications specialist dead?

Today’s excellent Twitter chat, hosted by @comms2point0 and @bencapper looked at the #idealcommsteam and got me thinking.

In the current financial climate, can communications teams still afford specialists, or is generalism the new specialism?

In his excellent blog post, @bencapper highlighted the challenges he faces in putting together a small team from scratch. Ben looked at what roles he would want in his team, and how difficult it is to make these decisions.

In taking a zero based approach, which I blogged about earlier this year, it is hard to find the right balance between the skills of individuals and overall requirements of the team. But have we reached the point where everyone now needs to be able to do everything?

They may do it in very different ways, and be permitted and encouraged to do so, but should Heads/Directors of Communications be able to call upon any member of their shrinking teams to carry out any particular activity?

Darren Caveney’s blog on his experience over 10 years as a Head of Communications highlighted the versatility and resilience required for this role, but should these requirements permeate throughout the team?

In my own experience leading communications teams, people have usually joined with a specialism. In the past these have included media relations, marketing, web, and internal communications, and they have been joined in recent years by insight and social media, to name a few.

Even team members who have studied communications in academia have tended to move from a general perspective to a particular specialism. Why? Numerous people have spoken and written about the need for social media skills to be generic, so why doesn’t this apply to other specialisms too? Digital and traditional should be essential tools for all communicators.

Have we now reached the stage where communications teams just need two job descriptions, one for a leader and one for everyone else? And how different should they be?

In today’s climate, especially in the public sector, the nature of the team members themselves is becoming increasingly important. So the person specification is superseding the job description.

This doesn’t mean that experience isn’t important, it is. But only if it’s meaningful and successful, and only if the individual(s) concerned showcased the talent they possess.

Talent should trump experience, but the two aren’t mutually exclusive. But let’s make the former an essential requirement, and the latter a nice add-on.


4 Responses to Is the communications specialist dead?

  1. […] really caught my eye. Is the comms specialist dead? he asks. Do we need to be generalists? You can read it here. […]

  2. […] One post from Simon Hope really caught my eye. Is the comms specialist dead? he asks. Do we need to be generalists? You can read it here. […]

  3. […] really caught my eye. Is the comms specialist dead? he asks. Do we need to be generalists? You can read it here. […]

  4. […] and the type of people who make up teams will become more important than job descriptions. I blogged about this a few weeks ago so I won’t go over old ground, but the next inevitable restructure will be more important […]

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