Considering a Career Change? An Inside Look at the Field of Communications

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If you’re looking for a career that will allow you to write, strategize, and connect with an audience, communications may be the perfect fit.

Patricia (Pat) Aylward is an award-winning communications professional with more than 20 years of organizational experience, a record of national industry and peer recognition, and a lifelong passion for learning. She shares the hurdles and rewards of a career in communications, as well as the outlook for the field.

What do you do & since when?
I’m a Corporate Communications manager for a global business insurance company.

I’m starting my eighth year with this company; however, I began my career in Human Resources (HR). As an HR director I expanded my role to include the Employee Communications area after receiving a master’s degree in Journalism. I was an HR director for 18 years, and then made the move full time into the communications field when I took my current job.

What are the biggest rewards of your field?
I love the creativity and being able to connect with people and having a positive impact on internal and external audiences. When handling my employee communications duties, it’s wonderful when I hear we have made employees’ jobs easier while helping build a positive culture. We play an integral part in numerous successful corporate initiatives, making certain that employees receive timely and concise information to ensure a successful deployment. In fact, we recently won three external communications awards for our creative tactics (e.g., videos, an electronic fun quiz, an interactive building graphic showing progress, etc.) as part of a huge endeavor that enhanced the way our company handles claims.

When I deal with external customer communications, it’s gratifying to know that we have improved the customer’s experience while supporting our company’s strategic plan. We’ve created comprehensive marketing deliverables (e.g., flyers, sales sheets, brochures, web sites, electronic newsletters etc.) that showcase our resources and services to assist with our customers’ claim needs. We support our sales force with the materials they need to obtain new business and retain accounts.

The biggest challenges?
Like everyone, I think it is not having enough time in the day.

What is the most important quality/skill for success in your field?
I don’t think there is just one. You need to be able to listen, build relationships, multi-task, prioritize, be strategic, as well as pragmatic, and of course, have strong communications skills.

What is the outlook for your field?
It’s exciting, especially with all that is going on in social media. It’s totally changing the way people communicate. We’ve just become active on Facebook and Twitter, sharing facts and tips, as well as responding to issues and providing updates. A presenter at one of our recent webinars told us his attendance tripled when we posted a notice on Facebook and Twitter about his upcoming presentation.

Do you have advice for those considering going into communications?
The basics aren’t going to change, so make sure you have a strong foundation built on solid written and verbal communications skills.

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