Explaining My Communications Job To 14-Year-Olds

When I volunteered for The Human Library project at Day X 2019, I found myself explaining what I did as my job to teenagers again and again, with each batch of kids that “borrowed” me. It was particularly challenging trying to explain what I did in communications without leaning on familiar industry jargon and contextualizing things for students who have yet to experience the working world.

I eventually settled on this version, which I thought I’d record here.

Every company has a reputation, just like you. If I ask your friend to describe you, they’ll often talk about how you make them feel, rather than just describe your physical features.

For example, they will more often say, “Leigh is a kind person,” rather than “Leigh is male, over 170cm tall, and doesn’t wear glasses.”

What someone thinks of you and how you make them feel is part your reputation. You can choose either to build it, change it, or defend your it.

If you want to be known as a kind person, you need to be kind and, hopefully, you’ll also have friends who can vouch for your kindness. If someone criticises you as being unkind, you would hopefully want to correct them and have friends who will defend your reputation as a kind person.

Now, it is important that your friends or other people say good things about you and defend your reputation voluntarily, without payment or inducement. This means you have earned their trust well enough for them to endorse you.

Imagine if it was discovered that you paid your friends to say nice things about you or defend your reputation. They would be perceived as having less credibility – what they say about you may be less believable because they were paid to do so.

So, you have to be kind, and be known as a kind person to as many of the right people as possible. It may not be possible to get the whole world to think positively about you, but you certainly want the people that matter to you to care: your friends, your teachers, and potential employers. So, you focus on ensuring these people have a good perception of you.

Similarly, my job is to build and defend my company’s reputation (what people think about my company and how it makes them feel) by earning the trust of friends that matter to my company (like media journalists, government authorities, or respected experts), who will then endorse my company to as many people as possible.

Let me know what you think?

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