The role of a R&D communication manager involves juggling several tasks at once. I may have as much as three to four different juggling sessions per day…sometimes multiple ones at once. Today is one of those days.
Allow me to take you through a day in my life with SOFIE project, a typical juggling rotation, if you will.
My Keyboard is On Fire. Always.
I start with the basics – scanning trough unanswered e-mails and Slack workspace messages. Prioritizing and then writing the responses to information or feedback requests from partners and my Guardtime team. E-mails with highest level of urgency are answered with top speed. And from there on step by step I clean the inbox in the order of relevance. Most of the key opportunities happen early in the day, so I need to be as responsive as possible to everyone.
Momentum is everything in communication – the thing to catch, the thing to keep safe, the thing to use.
My second order of business is to review the analytics for SOFIE’s social media channels and writing down the key indicators, as well as the analytics on SOFIE’s webpage. Regularly monitoring the project’s performance online gives a better understanding of what I need to do improve. I also write a tweet while “being on the premises” to promote SOFIE’s blog posts. While monitoring social media, I simultaneously write replies to incoming e-mails to react to questions and concerns in a timely manner.
Writing is something in inherently do all day long. It’s basically inherently a part of every juggling session I undertake. Today, I’m penning this post and also working on more creative projects: like coming up with thematic topics for the next SOFIE workshop and social media posts, as well as some mapping out the initial draft for the next communication deliverable.
A Goal Without a Plan is Just a Wish
My third step on today’s agenda is planning. Well actually, planning is the first step to any move one makes in the communication world. And as such, planning is kind of a separate juggling circle in every single juggling event. I create plans and delegate communication tactics to SOFIE partners, along with instructing them as needed.
For example, organising one workshop where most of the consortium partners are involved, usually means that I have to create and execute minimum of two communication plans: 1) an internal plan for the consortium, and then 2) the actual external communication and action plan for the event.
The first explains to all the partners when what is done and what is the reasoning behind the activities, how it complies with the project’s aims etc. It also highlights the input that is needed from them = the commitment they are making. The latter (external plan) is compiled to actually prepare and carry out the event and post-event activities. It consists of overviews of human and non-human resources, how and when those resources will be utilized, deadlines, (social) media content timetables, cooperation activities for promotion of the event, right down to the travel arrangements…. In short, all that jazz. So, essentially, the plan for the consortium partners, is a plan in a plan. A juggling in juggling.
Flipping Meetings into Working Environments
My fourth order of business today is following through with two meetings: a team meeting and co-writing session meeting for the (read: another) SOFIE blog. Co-writing sessions are fun because in addition to the writing process it entails real human connection. Simply put, it’s just me and my colleague and a bunch of ideas that need to be transformed into a structured and comprehensible (and attractive!) piece of writing. For me it is a way to get into somebody else’s head and a way to build a symbiosis out of scrambled thoughts into real statements. Most importantly, it’s a way for me to learn so much more new stuff and establish a stronger understanding of the whole project and people working in it.
Stable and supportive human relationships are like speedometers to that momentum a communication manager tries to catch. It’s all about building and maintaining relationships across all channels.
Closing the shop that always has a window open
Before wrapping up my day at the office, I write down all the loose ends or critical topics that need to be addressed no later than tomorrow morning. I send out various calendar invites that came up during the meetings and make a mark to prepare for them. I also quickly send multiple queries, action items, and follow-up emails to colleagues and consortium partners.
As you see, I get to be a team player and a leader all in one day. And while it’s non-stop juggling action, I like it just the way it is.
Illustrative photos by Pixabay