The Internet has revolutionized worldwide communications, opening up a market for skilled professionals who can navigate the sophisticated and often complex flow of information available in today's workplace. Many professionals now spend much of their day communicating, be that online or by phone or video, and companies and organizations hire people skilled in managing information to control the daily influx and sending out of information.
Business communications professionals should possess a broad range of skills outside of technical expertise. These professionals often must understand cross-culture communication, as many companies communicate regularly with people in other cultures and countries. They should be able to express themselves clearly, both in speaking and writing, and know how to work with small groups and large groups and in one-on-one situations.
Public Relations Communication Professionals
Key players in the corporate and non-profit communications space are the public relations and media contact professionals. They help create and foster an organization's public image, and often are called upon to repair damage done by rumors, false stories, or negative information covered by the media. PR representatives write press releases, human interest stories, or policy documents, and then they contact television, radio, or new media (Internet) correspondents to place them.
The 243,000 business communications professionals who held jobs in 2006 worked for corporate media departments, advertising agencies, educational services, government agencies, communications firms, financial institutions, and health care and social assistance service organizations.
Long hours, stressful deadlines, and overtime often go along with the job. On the positive side, PR representatives are often well compensated for their efforts. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a 2007 median annual salary of $49,800, with a top-end wage average of $94,620 for public relations specialists. Beginners with PR agencies may take jobs as research assistants or account coordinators, moving up to account managers or account executives with successive promotions based on experience. In corporate communications, beginners follow a similar path to management, although the job titles may be different.
Communications and Media Career Training
Online colleges and universities offer Liberal Arts and Humanities programs leading to bachelor's and master's degrees in communications, strategic communications and leadership, and technical writing. Coursework can include a focus on print, broadcast, and new media, social issues, organizational change, grant writing, business communications, workplace advocacy, and internal communications.
Businesses often look for communications specialists with a liberal arts background, and many communications degree programs allow students to specialize their coursework. Communications students who want to work in a particular field can take introductory classes in engineering, computers, and biotechnology. Specific business communication courses can include negotiation, dispute resolution, and multicultural diversity.
Additional courses can include specialized learning in journalism, speech communication, conflict management, publications or Web design, speechwriting, political science, finance, social science research, sales, and advertising. Professional accreditation can be earned from the International Association of Business Communicators.