Hiring An IT Communications Pro

When I told a colleague I was leaving the public relations team at a Fortune 500 company to lead IT communications within the company, I got a sarcastic, “who wouldn’t leave PR for the glamorous world of IT?” I can’t blame him because I was also hesitant about the role until I met with the CIO and his chief of staff.

That said, this is a unique position for an IT organization, so here are a few traits to look for when hiring someone:

A communications background. This goes beyond some basic email writing and PowerPoint skills. You need a writer capable of turning complex products, technical information and, of course, IT-speak into concise and consumable information for your users.

PR sensibilities. You don’t need a PR person, but your communicator needs to be able to assess and determine the best way to approach or message a situation to users while enhancing or protecting the overall IT brand.

Multitasking. Given the hectic nature of IT, your communicator will be bombarded with requests to help with emails, slides, events and numerous other activities. He or she must manage the incoming and execute (or decline) accordingly.

Managing up. As this is a newer role in IT organizations, it’s safe to say people will want to default to how they have traditionally communicated and will pushback on some new approaches. Your communicator needs to be confident in his or her recommendations and comfortable pushing back and managing up when it makes sense.

Outside perspective. Not only will this help with capturing a true view of the user experience to enhance a communications, but your communicator can play devil’s advocate to ensure an approach is in the users’ and IT’s best interest.

I’m sure there are more traits. What did I miss?

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