Upskilling for Communications Roles
By Amelia Bashford, Misha Manani and Rowan Groat
Publishing is a very competitive industry, which means that securing your first role can be challenging. Gaining transferable skills and a variety of experience is important to aid your professional development. Communications roles involve liaising with organisations, the public and the media. This is vital to all aspects of the industry because you will spend a lot of time collaborating with people. Here is some advice on how to acquire the skills and experience to succeed, whether as a stepping stone into your publishing career or to help you acquire a role in communications.
Jobs Outside of Publishing
Customer-facing roles: Whether in retail or hospitality, every day you are problem-solving, communicating with people and thinking on your feet. This strengthens your ability to communicate with people from different backgrounds and assist individuals to achieve their desired outcome.
Volunteer work: Employers’ love to see that you are passionate about helping others. If you have actively worked for a volunteer group, shown initiative setting up events or used persuasion techniques to get people to donate, this demonstrates useful skills for a communications role.
School/College/University: It’s great if you join societies as a member, however holding a position in the committee can illustrate your assertiveness and proactive nature. Such experience establishes leadership, communication, organisation and multitasking skills because of the balance between your academic and extra-curricular responsibilities. Try the creative writing, media or publishing society, if your university has one. If not, find a role in a society that interests you. You could even become the founder of a new society!
Key Skills from Job Descriptions for Communications Roles in Publishing
Remember, you don’t need to be able to do everything in the job description. If you can do at least 60%, that’s great – there is a fine line between having enough room for you to grow and not being competent for the job.
Managing and inputting data on BooksoniX and Excel spreadsheets
Research for keywords to use in book descriptions, images and tags for search engine optimisation to increase the books discoverability online
Editing product pages, including book descriptions, author biographies and reviews
Converting PDFs into JPEGs using photoshop to upload onto websites
Liaising with national and international offices to ensure data (price, title etc.) is correct
Writing and editing content for social media platforms such as Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter, where attention to detail is vital
Organisation is important because you are working on different lists and campaigns
Drafting and distributing emails and newsletters to keep staff up to date about the company, whether it's initiatives, awards, news etc. in a warm and engaging style to reflect company culture
Writing and editing stories to submit to media channels, journalists and reviewers
Managing and liaising with various teams, whilst leading new projects
Proficient with communication technologies such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom
You enjoy getting to know people and building strong relationships
LinkedIn Learning: A vast selection of online courses that vary in length and often focus on developing a particular skill. Why not check out this course on using Excel, or develop your communication and interpersonal skills because you will be contacting both internal and external parties constantly. Check if your university or employer provides free access!
The Publishing Training Centre: Considering how important digital skills are for communications roles, the Content Strategy for Web and Writing for the Web virtual paid courses are great for creating and writing effective content for the book product pages. For those looking to progress in their career and apply for managerial roles, the Introduction to Project Management and Getting to Grips with People Management can help you learn how to succeed in a position of responsibility.
Book-tubers: Eleanor Marie Rose and Ain Chiara both have incredibly informative YouTube videos. Check out this video by Eleanor which covers the skills you need to work in publishing, or this Q&A by Ain.
Bonus Tip: Another way to use LinkedIn is to search for those in communications roles in the UK publishing industry. Get an idea of their career journeys via their employment and work experience to see the stages of progression. Analyse their skills and any certifications/courses they have completed that you could do to upskill. Don’t be afraid to connect and send them a message!
Thanks for reading Upskilling Tips for Communications Roles. Join us again for Issue 32, where we will be sharing upskilling tips for children’s publishing.