Our fearless founder, Tom Buchan, was recently awarded a Fellowship by the Public Relations Institute of Australia (PRIA). We sat down with him to talk about how the communication industry has evolved during his career, where it’s heading, and his advice to emerging leaders within the profession.
Q. What do you think have been the most significant changes within the communication industry during your time as a business leader?
A. The world of communication is continually changing, but what never ceases to amaze me is the reach and speed of communication. Technology has driven this change, and now even the remotest areas of the world can access information in real time; creating challenges and opportunities for communicators.
When I first started in the industry, communication was beginning to be accepted as an important influence in management decision making. We had to work extremely hard to ensure it wasn’t just an after-thought, but integrated into the thinking of business leaders. Now, leaders of governments, business and communities recognise you need to bring people along internally and externally, to achieve your goals. Communication is essential to driving behavioural change, building influence, and delivering on your agenda. Every decision in business – from micros to global behemoths – will have a communication element to it, as it becomes bound tightly with leadership.
Q. What does the future of the communication profession look like over the next five years?
A. It’s difficult to predict where the communication industry is heading in the long term as the changes are so rapid. But from my own experience there are a few areas ripe for development.
The importance of ‘multi-channel,’ ‘mobile first’ and ‘integrated’ will only increase. Audiences are spread more thinly (in most cases) across more touchpoints, and of course mobile has become totally integrated into our lives. There are opportunities for enterprises to tell their stories across more touchpoints, and specifically focus on where their targets live.
Compelling, high quality content remains paramount. The emergence of new communication channels means it’s not enough just to have your name out there, but reinforces the need to tell the ‘story,’ not just the ‘message,’ to the right people at the right time. As social media channels become more saturated, the importance of creating the story will only continue to grow.
Q. What would be your top advice to emerging leaders within the communication profession, and/or those looking to start their own consultancies?
A. The ‘road to success’ will be different for everyone; one’s personality and motivations will influence your path.
Personally, I have found embracing a deeper perspective on the world increases your value as a consultant. By keeping the fires of curiosity alight for the world of business and politics, I gain an informed point of view and can make reasoned decisions for clients.
Becoming a leader isn’t just about setting your own goals and working hard to achieve them, but also building teams of talent and setting their goals. Having teams with diversity in skills, thoughts, backgrounds and personalities contributes to long term productive outcomes.
Lastly and most importantly, it comes down to effort. Without effort matched with passion, success may well be short lived.