Attention spans are short. Inboxes and social media feeds are flooded. Solid useful information is obscured by trivia, advertising, spam, and misinformation. As a result, it’s tough for businesses and nonprofits to get past the clutter so their messages are heard.
A good communications consultant gives you the power to break through. They help you understand what your stakeholders need and want, define your own value, frame messages that resonate, and find the best avenues to deliver them.
What makes a good communications consultant? Here are five attributes.
A good communications consultant is an excellent writer and speaker who knows how to pierce the media and social content landscape. Clear writing is clear thinking. These professionals also keep these clearly voiced ideas in mind when speaking on a client’s behalf or helping the client find the right words.
Communications consultants are often misrepresented as “spin doctors,” when they put the best light on a situation and portray issues, companies, and organizations in a positive way. That doesn’t mean lying. Good communications consultants never lie, and in fact, help a client tell the truth even when it’s hard to do.
Good consultants do their homework and have a healthy skepticism. They check and double-check the facts and the veracity of any statement and make sure it can be properly sourced—even when the fact is provided by the client.
A good communications consultant connects the client’s product, idea, cause, and key message to the audiences they most need to reach. A campaign I was involved with around endangered historic buildings is a great example. Instead of pitching a wonderful old Southern Maryland mansion as a priceless piece of architecture that might disappear, we focused on the facts that a descendant of the mansion’s owner, a slave holder, and a descendant of an enslaved person who worked on the property were both involved trying to save this house. When framed in the context of larger discussions around race and equity, the story took on a life of its own with coverage in leading newspapers and broadcast outlets that generated support and funding to preserve an historic treasure for future generations.
A good communications consultant is engaged in the world. They keep up with the news in their clients’ industries, as well as current events and trends and developments within our own “industry.” That means understanding social media and its implications. Communications consultants bring the outside world in, as well as the inside out. We must help our clients understand how their work fits into a larger context so they can participate effectively in the larger conversations taking place about their issues, causes or products.
My book, Prism of Value, can help you hone in on these qualities in your own communications. Preview it with this excerpt.