For Dr. K. Dawn Rutledge, who graduated from our program in 2012, storytelling has been a constant thread throughout her life and career as a communicator. Dawn vividly remembers entering a poetry-writing contest in eighth grade. “I actually won first place in that contest, and so my love of writing started very early. I was also fascinated with how people like Oprah Winfrey could move their audiences with compelling stories.”
That love of storytelling has led to a long professional career in communication in a wide range of sectors: First a stint in journalism, then work in the nonprofit, corporate, governmental, entertainment and educational sectors. Now, as a consultant and educator, Dawn enjoys helping others tell their stories.
In a recent interview, Dawn describes three stops along her journey and shares some excellent advice for communicators at the beginning of their careers.
I recently had the opportunity to interview Katie Delahaye Paine, who has been a pioneer in the field of communication and PR measurement for three decades. You can read some her contributions to the profession at the bottom of this post.
Students in our program consider her book Measure What Matters an excellent and practical introduction to assessment methodology.
Here’s what Katie had to say about measurement and why it matters for communicators in all functional areas — and why the ability to demonstrate communication impact is a key to career advancement in our digital era.
How are communication leaders around the world responding to the Covid-19 pandemic? What do they see as challenges? And how will they adapt to a post-pandemic environment?
These are some of the topics we discussed with Artemio Garza, who leads Egon Zehnder’s Communication Officers practice in North America. Artemio is a core member of Egon Zehnder’s Marketing and Digital practices. Based in Miami, his special focus is on multi-unit retail, consumer goods, and private equity companies.
Carl Zangerl (CZ): Tell us about what your job at Egon Zehnder entails.
Artemio Garza (AG): Our mission at Egon Zehnder is to create a better world through great leadership. I have a marketing and communication background myself, and I advise companies on how to structure their communication functions and help identify people who can assume leadership roles.
There was a time when we assumed our communication with internal and external audiences could be neatly compartmentalized. It was simple (we thought): One message for employees, another message for external stakeholders. Even in the pre-digital era, of course, that assumption was mistaken.
While we need to tailor our messages to specific audiences, we also have to expect that those messages will be shared. I still recall the reaction when employees at a company I worked for first heard about ‘bad news’ in the Wall Street Journal. We were disappointed and dismayed. Trust in the company’s leadership took at hit.
The emotional dimension of brand
The fact is that an organization’s brand often ‘lives’ in the hearts and minds of its stakeholders, internal and external.
Kicking off the first stage of my professional career clashes with mixed feelings that emerged with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in my hometown, Puerto Rico. Among all the anxiety that the current humanitarian crisis has unfolded, I’ve learned how invaluable the power of empathy can be. Caring for others is a human thing, regardless of whether you’re American or not.
As an eager storyteller, I also realized how impactful it can be to listen to stories from people living the disaster in depth. A crisis shouldn’t be addressed, it should be narrated. Stories help us to draw what’s invisible. In this particular case, sharing what the crisis’ victims have to say is the key for them to engage with the rest of the world. It also justifies the imperatives of the essential aid they need. In addition, the narrative unveils the lessons we all can gain from this crisis to turn them into our legacy.
Puerto Ricans are characterized by our willingness to always extend our hand to others. Today, my fellow citizens from la “Isla del Encanto” (as we call it) or the land of “Despacito” (as others might know it as well) are now the ones in need. We’ll be grateful to get any form of support – but moreover, we’d be happy to have you listen to any story we have to tell.