Hiring project leads, think about this
For their public relations work development cooperation organizations need to focus more on human aspects like building trust and who the actual messenger is — the so-called soft skills, which are actually the essential skills.
Viewing communication strategy from a perspective of tools and technical operations only is never going to crack it.
On the other hand that doesn’t mean that constantly hiring people with no communications background to fill the comms officer positions will ever work.
If you want impact for your project, you need to have people in your communications positions who have a background or a professional skills-set related to communications.
Selling out those positions to get more subject matter expertise into your team, is enticing to juniors with a Ph.D. who just want in. But they only wait for a time to get “a real” position and organizations hardly hire senior communicators into their projects either.
The message is clear. There is no professional attempt to level up communications and if you want to get somewhere, leave this underappreciated dead-end career path.
Thinking that your communicators should know something about your field of operation is totally understandable. But turn this around and think that this is all they need to bring to the job is nonsense.
Communications nowadays is a field with lots of technical know-how. You cannot learn all that on the job. Especially not if you are not dedicated to it as a career and there is no one around who could teach you professional communications.
Imagine a parents’ evening at a high school in a very affluent neighborhood. Every mom and dad has a degree. Ph.D.s, plastic surgeons, judges. You name it. The air is buzzing with fancy words.
Now, these people are supposed to organize a bake sale for the next school event.
I’m sure you know what that looks like. It’s a disaster! Because they don’t know how to do it.
Even though it’s not that complicated after all. Still, you need to have some acquired skills to do it.
Now, this is like setting up communications in a team without anyone having professional skills in communications.
Only difference is, believe you me, communications needs more learned technical skills than a bake sale.