Communicating Cable’s Future

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When my kids ask me to tell them again
what I do to for a living, I say that when the company I work
for needs to say something, I help decide what the words
should be and how they should be delivered to
the people we’re trying to reach. I’m a communicator.
It’s a simple articulation of an expertise
that is becoming more complicated every day,
and more important — across the universe of
companies, governments, celebrities and others.

Communications as a core function is changing
before our eyes, as the dividing lines and
distinctions between audiences disappear, social
media offers new tools (and traps) and “traditional”
media outlets navigate a challenging
economy and structural changes that are severely
constraining resources. The world we live
in today as communicators is complex, dynamic
and nuanced. The good news is that we have never
had as much of an ability to drive business results or occupy
a critical seat at the table than we do at this very moment.

The emergence of social media has fundamentally
changed what we do. The value of platforms like Twitter
and Facebook as listening tools cannot be overstated. We
can make our own decisions in terms of how best to engage
and speak through these services, but failing to listen
is no longer an option.

Like kids who grew up with computers instead of paper
notebooks, young people working in communications today
have a natural advantage in their ability to navigate
and serve as guides to social platforms that are already integrated
into their own lives. More established communicators
who have nailed the basics have a responsibility
to learn the new channels now at our disposal,
just as junior counterparts need to master
fundamentals that can now be applied across
an expanding array of options.

For those of us working in cable, there is
no better time to do this than during the Association
of Cable Communicators’ annual
event, Forum. This is the one opportunity
all year for ACC members to come together
in a single location and share insights and
perspectives on the practice that unites us
as professionals — cable communications.
We’ll also present the Beacon Awards, recognizing
excellence in communications and
public affairs across the industry.

This is an exciting and vital time for our profession, with
new tools at our disposal, new challenges and an increasingly
central role in the success of the companies and entities
we speak for in the marketplace. The most important
commitment a communicator can make in this environment
of change is a commitment to learning and professional
growth. There’s no falling back on yesterday’s way of doing
things, because — in our business — yesterday is gone.

Jim Maiella is president, Association of Cable Communicators
and VP of media relations, Cablevision Systems.