If you’re thinking of a career in crisis and issues management- whether that be in the social media, PR, military, corporate or Government sectors, on this page you’ll find my top tips and a list of resources to guide you.
First and foremost, when delving into any career niche it’s imperative that you ensure you have a strategy in place to keep your core skills current. In my case, although I work extensively in the military, crisis and issues arena – I always maintain my core skills by maintaining a corporate client base, working as an academic and freelancing on discrete projects.
There are two reasons for this (and these apply to anyone in any occupation):
1. What makes me so competitive and knowledgable in my niche is my currency of skills broadly.
I keep up-to-date with changes social networks make to their platforms, I monitoring the evolution of content marketing, I am conversant in blogging, podcasting and vlogging – because I make time cultivate these skills. I make an effort to keep in touch with my civilian social media community and cultivate professional relationships that have nothing to do with my niche. I don’t confine my interactions in the media to one aspect of social media only.
I have clients that I deliver traditional communication services precisely so that my tactical skills remain current.
2. Soft skills are perishable. If you don’t regularly use them, you will quickly lose pace with changes in the information and communications environment; meaning your ability to think and work at a tactical level will diminish.
Working in any niche requires you to sustain both strategic and tactical skill sets.
While you might think that copywriting, social media management, writing talking points and media releases are jobs for interns or junior staffers – think again. In fact, as a crisis or issues communicator, if you think any type of work in this vein is beneath you – have a serious think about your mindset because leading others through crisis requires significant mentoring, leadership and conviction of character. You will be required to lead people in performing the most elementary of tasks during times of intense stress and when their ability to perform these functions are compromised.
Take for example, penning media talking points for a CEO or Government Minister. Sure, they have staff to do this – but not all staff are trained in crisis strategy and social media recovery. Their staff may have got them into the crisis in the first place!
At the very least, you need to objectively be able to proof and correct proposed talking points or other social media content that is being served up internally for use during a crisis – and the only way you can effectively do that is if your tactical skills are sharp. If you haven’t written a press release recently, can’t smash out a few keyword heavy tweets or you missed the memo from Facebook on paid promotion- your ability to quickly and accurately assist others in this process is diminished.
LinkedIn – using the jobs search function in your desktop web browser to by downloading their job search app, searching by keyword for jobs around the world has never been easier. Try searching on these words – Crisis, Issues, Reputation, Brand, Corporate Affairs.
Freelancer.com – search projects, get hired, keep your skills current. Some of the work can be a little hit and miss, but I’ve met some incredible people doing incredible things around the world using Freelancer as both a hiring tool and for doing discrete projects.
UpWork – similar to Freelancer, UpWork also pools together longer-term opportunities from around the world.
Newsmodo – is your freelance news desk. Respond to briefs or pitch your own to maintain your storytelling, professional writing and content marketing skills.
Working in Government
While the crisis and issues management type roles aren’t often advertised directly (they’re usually filled from within) a great entry level place to start within Government is in public affairs or media operations in some of the larger agencies in your country. It is much easier to navigate through different Government roles from the inside of Government – so take a long term view of building both core skills and niche skills, and choose large agencies that are often in the media for all the wrong reasons.
While you may find that Government Departments are constrained by their political masters in effectively dealing with crisis and issues, you will develop a robust understanding of what-not-to-do and how to mismanage issues and crisis – learning from the mistakes of others so you never have to make those mistakes yourself is a valuable exercise not only in career progression but also in developing a high level of emotional intelligence, negotiation and diplomacy skills.
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