Monday, February 15, 2010

What I do

“So, what do you do for a crust?”

It’s a tough question for me to answer because I work in such a varied and undefined profession.

When I say I work in “communications”, people think I work as a technical engineer for Telstra or True.

When I say I work in “public relations, mainly for a bank”, people think I’m in some customer service role at their local branch.

When I say I work “for an agency”, people think I’m either a male hooker or am about to subject them to some intelligence-gathering waterboarding exercise.

It can be utterly confusing to the average punter, without a 10-minute, thirst-quenching explanation…

If they show some interest, I usually tell them I write plans (and sometimes administer parts) for pretty much anything that involves my client’s ‘brain’, ‘voice’ and ‘face’.

I tell them my job is to figure out the best way for my client to chat to customers en masse, the government, the business community or anyone other group that may be affected by, or affect, my client’s business decisions.

I give advice on what my client needs to say (or not say) in general, who specifically they need to say it to (including the decision makers and influencers) and the best method(s)/medium(s) to reach and persuade that person/group.

I also tell them my job tends to have many political considerations, in that it’s important to take into account and act on the views of my client’s many business/industry partners - be they an industry association, sponsorship recipient, charity or a key opinion leader.

Then I might explain that ‘conversations’ can happen via the media (and the many iterations of), the client’s website, online channels, via advertising, the annual report, special announcements, an employee incentive program, speaking engagements etc.

They usually latch onto the media. Media is probably the least sophisticated element of the profession, however the most easily understood. Regardless, I would talk about how a column like this one I write on behalf of my client is a good example of how we help position them as a leader in Asian and Thai business. Circulated throughout a number of other regional national daily newspapers and online news sites the column is a small tactic built into an overall plan. We might also suggest meetings with key Chinese government officials, trade seminars for SME businesspeople or awards submissions and interviews with international industry media.

By the time we're finished, both conversation and beverage tends to be pretty dry...

If only I could be a doctor, policeman or fireman!


libby oconnor said...

a clever insight into your career steve.

Mum said...

I should print this off for my purse as I'm always a bit lost when people ask me what you do in Thailand!