Skills & Expertise

What Does a Communications Manager Do?

Let your creativity, writing skills and ability to connect with people shine in this critical role

You’re wicked creative, digitally savvy and your writing skills are bar none.  You, dear reader, are what a communications manager is made of. Check out what a couple of communications pros have to say about the gig and then say hello to your new job.

What exactly does a communications manager do?

A communications manager promotes a company’s mission, products and/or services. She works closely with management teams and execs to shape a company’s image and values, as well as the appropriate methods to communicate them to the public. Her responsibilities include identifying press opportunities and developing content to be disseminated via social media, websites, newsletters, press releases and any other distribution channels. The communications manager ensures messaging aligns with key business strategies. She may also serve as a company’s media liaison and formal spokesperson, conducting briefings and press conferences.

“The primary purpose of a communications manager is to effectively inform and promote an organization, its brand, its people, its mission and its product(s),” says Rina Ortega, communications manager of ArtsConnection in New York. Ortega spreads the word about the nonprofit arts education organization by searching for potential media placements and pitching stories; managing the organization’s two websites and multiple social media channels; creating on-brand marketing materials and correspondence; and overseeing the creation of an annual report.

Communication is how a company distinguishes itself from its competitors, says Mariam Bulin-Diarra, partner and chief marketing officer at Spycob, a fashion deals e-commerce startup in San Francisco. Bulin-Diarra spends most mornings tracking media mentions and responding to press requests. She also writes press releases in line with current trends and attends weekly seminars and business networking events.

What skills does a communications manager need?

“As an advocate of a company, a communications manager must have strong communications and people skills, be an organized strategist, able to adjust to any kind of [situation] and resilient to stress,” says Bulin-Diarra.

Creativity and out-of-this world writing and editing skills are other tools of the trade. You have to be able to come up with new ideas and inventive ways to promote an organization so people will pay attention and understand what the organization is all about, says Ortega, who also emphasizes the importance of time management. “It’s a very fast-pace environment; if you don’t manage your time wisely, you may miss an opportunity,” she says. “Additionally, you should know when the most optimal time is to send out your information. For example, posting social media statuses or sending email marketing campaigns can make or break what you’re promoting.”

Who is a communications manager’s supervisor?

Generally, you’ll take your cues from a director or VP of communications or marketing.

Are there any positions similar to this one?

A public relations manager, community outreach manager, digital communications manager, corporate/internal communications manager and marketing manager may have similar responsibilities.

What does it take to excel in this position?

You need a strong vision and desire for personal growth to rock it out in this position, says Ortega. “It takes a lot of self-motivation to be in this role, constantly developing new ideas and keeping up with technology,” she says.

Adds Bulin-Diarra, proficiency in analytics always helps, as does having positive energy and a positive attitude. No one wants to work with a stressed-out sourpuss, after all. But nothing trumps believing in your business and your product, she says. “It makes such a difference when you genuinely love your company and your job.”

How can I break into this field?

“Because of its key position in an organization and its many responsibilities, this role requires a bachelor’s degree with a minimum of five years of experience in communications,” says Bulin-Diarra. So decide what industry you want to work in, scope out companies in those industries looking for help, says Ortega, and apply for an internship in their marketing, event marketing or PR department.

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