The road to success in your communications career doesn’t come without its share of bumps along the way.
I’m sure there’s been at least one time when you thought to yourself, “I have no idea what to do right now.”
Maybe it was when you were first starting out.
It might have been long after you were considered a seasoned vet.
If you’re just beginning your career, those challenges can be a major source of anxiety and worry.
You aren’t sure who to ask for help or even if you should ask at all.
(Just to let you know, the answer is yes. Always, always ask for help if you’re stuck.)
And even if you’ve been in your profession for years and years, nobody ever says, “It’s cool, I’ve got this” to every single problem they encounter.
They might tell you they do, but listen, they don’t.
This week, the lovely Micah McGuire sent us a couple of suggestions for our #SpinSucksQuestion.
They were awesome and we decided to use one right away.
What’s the toughest problem you’ve faced in your career and how did you solve it?
Our Spin Sucks community had so many great answers, it was really hard to choose.
Sometimes You Have To Get a New Job
The company I was working at had its primary product legislated out of existence. This represented 85% of the company’s revenue, and made for some obviously very difficult times. I ended up changing companies.
Or Create Your Own Company
I got tired of hearing “no” at every turn.
I’ve always punched above my weight because I’m of the mindset that it’s the only way to learn. Once I felt I’d mastered my core responsibilities (always know how to do your primary job first!), I’d start seeking out ways to expand what I was doing and set myself up for the next level.
And I was always told “no” or “you’re not ready” or “I don’t think this will happen for you” or [insert reason to be held back here]—so I started my own company.
It hasn’t been easy. But any failure I’ve had is on my shoulders and is my responsibility—and I wouldn’t change it for a second.
Toughest problem I’ve ever had was whether I should go solo or if it was a delusional dream.
I talked to some people I knew had been in my position before (even Gini Dietrich, who I really didn’t know at the time).
I felt it was a good idea but maybe not practical.
Until the day, I realized I hated my day job and dreaded being there.
I had one side client at that point, so I didn’t think twice about typing up my resignation right there in the moment without consulting my then-boyfriend, now-husband.
A few months later, I was making more money then I made in my previous position. And my then-boyfriend was talking to me again.
Even if It Takes You By Surprise
When I moved from Toronto to Vancouver in 2014, I thought I’d continue my 13+ year career in corporate marketing.
Alas, I couldn’t find a job when we got here. Meanwhile, someone posted on LinkedIn they needed help writing content for a client, so I raised my hand.
I worked on the project and remember saying to my partner, “I love working from home and only doing the writing.”
He responded, “Look on Craigslist for more stuff.”
So I did and landed many freelance writing gigs while I was still looking for full time work.
I remember saying to him, “What are we going to do if I can’t find a job?” To which he responded, “I think you’ve already found one.” (He was referring to all the writing I’d been doing.)
That’s how I started my freelance writing business. And now I’m moving back into my marketing roots and offering strategy as part of my services.
Stand Up for What’s Right
There have been a few! At my previous employer, a system conversion (don’t we love those?) had its decidedly AWFUL components. One of those was no parent (it was kids’ health insurance) got refund checks for a VERY LONG TIME.
WEEKS … maybe months.
And we were not doing very good communications about that.
As the customer service supervisor, it all hit me.
Our executive director was not receptive to it or empathetic with the families. I eventually told a board member in confidence. I’ll never forget him saying, “if you’ve got a fever, you should see if there’s a cold.”
For all I know, he told her I shared that with him.
I’ll never know, but things started moving shortly after that and I’m still glad I did the right thing for the kids even though it was professionally delicate and possibly damaging for me.
Communicating in a Time of Crisis
I worked at the SeaWorld Corporate Offices, on the Corporate Communications team focusing on Reputation and Crisis Management, during the height of the “Blackfish” fallout.
Considering KPIs like a Twitter positive sentiment of less than 2% on a weekly average, and factors like having animal activists protesting at our parks on a daily and weekly basis, we had one heck of a communications challenge.
While I can’t go in to everything we did, if only for the sake of time and space, we had to focus on our core mission and purpose and deliver that directly to our key audiences (we couldn’t rely on uncontrolled communications channels to be impartial).
We also had to find ways to cut through the clutter and the massive amount of “noise” that was coming from our detractors.
Through a rebrand of what our rescue and conservation program was, combined with finding new and innovative ways to deliver that purpose-driven brand and mission to our audiences, we found a way to start to deliver on our promise of being a conservation organization that saves animals.
Obviously a lot more went in to it, but we kept it simple: find your purpose, convey it in a meaningful way to your audiences, invite them to be a part of the meaningful change, and do it over and over and over until it resonates.
Still a lot of work to be done at SeaWorld, but we made a lot of progress while I was there!
Learn the Ins and Outs
Every day is currently the toughest.
Our office has been the same for 20+ years. But now that we have two members transitioning out, my colleagues and I are trying to learn everything we’ve never done before.
It’s a constant battle of: “are you doing this” and “I didn’t know I needed to.”
Little things filed away in the back of others’ minds pop up everyday because it’s just “stuff we have done for so long.”
Not helpful for us, but testing our perseverance.
The Floor is Yours
What’s been your biggest communications career challenge to date?
We all have at least one and we want to hear about yours.
You can join our Spin Sucks community and answer there. (Plus, that means you can participate in upcoming Spin Sucks Questions!)
Or you can leave your comments down below.
Whichever route you choose, we hope to hear from you soon!