I was then updating my points in the IoIC’s continuous professional development (CPD) scheme and I started thinking about skills I used to rely on and regular tasks that I don’t do any more. Some I’m glad to see the back of, while others feel like important skills that we should be preserving…
Gone and not forgotten
1. Waiting for the courier to bike magazine proofs over to clients because the files were too big to email. Yes, 1996, I’m looking at you.
2. Watching the ISDN line flicker as your publication limped its way to the printer. When the agency I worked for, Trident Communications, pioneered the use of high-res pdfs it changed our lives. You’re welcome.
3. Cromalins and chinagraphs – if you’ve never felt the squeak of a wax pencil on an Iris proof, I envy you your youth. Ask your mother (or Wikipedia). Just imagine your whole desk covered with a single sheet proof for you to check the layout, colours and imposition before the presses roll. No pressure.
4. Character counting. When a designer drops a sheaf of black and white proofs on you with “84 character headline in here two decks” above your perfectly crafted news story and you have to remember that ‘i’ and ‘l’ are half spaces, and write him a headline that is both brilliant and fills the space to his satisfaction.
Don’t fade away
1. Interviewing – when was the last time you sat down and interviewed someone for a story? Or are you more likely to work from someone’s draft or a 70-slide PowerPoint deck because “it’s all in there”? I think interviewing skills are still vital – not only is it the best chance to ask the questions employees will want answered, but rounding off with an open “What else have you been up to lately?’ type question is a great way to uncover further stories.
2. Shorthand. Yes, I know it’s niche. But learning shorthand (in evening classes, from tapes) is one of the best things I’ve done. It’s great for accurate notes during interviewing (see 1 above) and a brilliant ice-breaker when people spot you squiggling away. Now, if someone wants to invent an iPad app that transcribes Pitman 2000 into text, it’d change my life. I’d buy an iPad for a start…
3. Briefing photographers and illustrators – or is it iStock image bank all the way as you try and balance the photo budget? Do you even have a photo budget any more?
What would you say are the most vital skills for today’s internal communicators?