11 Don’ts When Employing a Communications Consultant

drinkI am a fledgling communications consultant and I love my job. But the people I (want to) work for – project heads, comms leads, CEOs and marketing managers – hardly ever take into consideration that communications is a product of (science + skill + experience). Consultants are viewed as a catch-all solution for every which problem. And that’s not all …they are expected to instantly come up with a menu of solutions, and wait for the financial decision-makers to take their pick. In a field mired by such pedestrian douchebaggery, here are some thumb rules for managers:

  1. Spare us the territory-marking talk about how long you’ve been with the company and how the CEO is your drinking buddy. There’s no reason to feel threatened. Stop reciting your CV.
  2. Please don’t automatically assume that the ‘consultant’ is here to confirm all your gut-feelings about how you only need a brochure and a big heart to win over the communication landscape.
  3. Don’t forget: you’re not the center of everything. Consultants are experts i.e. they can separate the context and apply the science to your context. You are merely part of this context.
  4. Stop trying to rule from the boardroom. Intelligence, almost by definition, needs to be gathered and will seldom present itself on a platter. If can’t listen, go home.

development-cartoon

  1. Stop thinking to yourself, “Hey, I can do communications!”. Just because you communicate or post on Facebook regularly, it doesn’t mean you can ‘do communications’. Just like taking a dump doesn’t automatically make you an expert on fecal bacteriotherapy.

expert

  1. Stop drawing random logos at the back of your notebook. I will absolutely ignore your suggestions. Besides, a logo does not have to have people and communities in it. A logo is not a creative pursuit. It is an instrument; a tool.
  2. You cannot make a ‘viral video’. A well-made video that connects to its audience may or may not go viral. And no, I have nothing against cats on the internet

viral

  1. No, you may not have your favorite celebrity in a promotional video or PSA. Not unless you have research or insights to back it up. Not even if its Mosharrof Karim.
  2. Don’t discard every idea that goes against ‘data’ or ‘learnings’ from other experiences. Your situation is unique and calls for unique solutions. Communications is at least as much about gut-feelings as it is about a precise science.
  3. No, your child’s drawing does not have a place in my work.
  4. If you think you can do my job, please stop stepping on my toes and muster up the decency and courage to say that to your superior. Submit a sample or two of your proclaimed skill.
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