It’s time to share another view of the communications industry through CIPR Communications’ ‘Masters in Comms’ blog series where we feature a new professional that has proven to be a true Master of Communications in their respective field. Every week we feature a new professional that has proven to be a true Master of Communications in their respective field.
Our goal? To learn from one another! There are valuable lessons to be learned from fellow communicators – from risks they took to advice that motivates them to ensure their life balanced.
In this week’s blog, we hear from Kevin Armstrong, Senior Director, External Relations at the BILD Alberta Association. Kevin spent 9 years in the CTV Newsroom as a political reporter and transitioned to communications and public affairs nearly three years ago.
“The people who adapt with the least resistance stand the best chance to be successful and influential. .”
- Kevin Armstrong
Q: What is the best piece of professional advice you ever received? Who provided it?
A: Two legendary broadcasters provided the best advice that I always hold true:
Lloyd Robertson told me “Don’t waste the viewer’s time.” As communicators, we need to be giving our audiences the information they want in the most efficient and effective manner.
When Dan Rather retired, CBS did a special biography on him and it was during that show when he said, “Be respectful and polite, but ask the question, just ask the damn question.” To this day, I think this is just plain good life advice. Too many times we tiptoe around issues when we need to just be direct. Whether it’s a news story, a marketing campaign or even in our daily lives we simply need to “ask the damn question”.
Q: What is the biggest challenge and opportunity for communicators today?
A: As in nearly every industry, technology in communications is a multi-headed beast. For communicators, advancements in technology take on many forms: social media, live steam, video production and apps. We have to find the best delivery in the best formats to land our messages where they have the most impact. Plus, we have the added pressure of often being first to use new technology in order to meet the expectations of our audiences. While challenging, this presents endless opportunities for us to get our messages out.
Q: What do you read to keep your brain sharp?
A: As every communicator can relate, we read all day and night. Sadly, a good book has been replaced by the latest iPhone, but I do find myself scrolling through LinkedIn to find industry articles on best practices. I also make a point of reading Inc.com and enjoy the weekly updates from Story Brand with Donald Miller.
Choose just one for the rest of your life while letting go of the others forever: Beer, wine, cannabis, coffee, chocolate.
A: That’s easy. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke (anything), and I’ve almost eliminated caffeine. I consider chocolate an absolute life essential, it stays!
Q: Where do you see communications five years from now?
A: If I could answer this with any kind of confidence, I would stop typing and invest right now. I do think virtual and augmented reality will start playing a bigger role in our lives. I’ve had some incredible mind-bending experiences with technology and some of the ideas on the horizon that I’ve read about are hard to believe.
Q: What advice would you give someone that is just entering the field of communications?
A: Run! Kidding aside, I would tell that person to never stop learning. Budgets are getting tighter all the time and more duties are being added to what is expected from a communications professional every day. We need to be a writer, a public speaker, graphic designer, videographer, editor, website builder, app developer, etc. The list will only get longer. The people who adapt with the least resistance stand the best chance to be successful and influential.
Q: What do you know today, you wish you knew when you started your career?
A: You can’t please everyone. Keep the person who signs your cheque happy - at the end of the day that person is the only judge of your work. That said, you have a responsibility to yourself to represent your morals and ethics. I met with a career coach five years ago which clarified what I needed to enjoy work. If you don’t believe in what you’re saying or representing, you may have a hard time going to work or falling asleep at night. You are the president & CEO of your career.
Q: What drives you crazy?
A: Loaded questions.
Q: What do you love and dislike about your job?
A: I love that every day is different. I don’t like that every day is different. It’s a double-edged sword, it keeps you on your toes, but it also gives very little time to rest on your successes from the day before.
Q: Who is the most interesting person you know and why?
A: Ragnar – yes, I consider my German Shephard to be a person. He is a reminder to take it easy, be present and enjoy the simple things in life. And if you don’t find it, never stop digging! (CIPR’s team has a lot of dog people – we agree, they do keep things interesting.)