When I was 20 years old and in college, I secured an internship with Akzo Nobel Salt. My position was in the Corporate Communications Department working alongside the professionals who were responsible for all internal and external communications. Prior to my interview, I went to the library to research the company and quickly learn as much as possible about the salt industry. By the time I left Akzo two years later, I felt confident enough to speak, intelligently, about salt packaging facilities, salt mining, the difference between our industrial/grocery division and our highway/chemical division. In other words, I did what countless marketing andcommunications professionals had done before me; I learned to speak the language.
My next position was in healthcare, specifically rehabilitation medicine. Again, I researched the healthcare system and learned as much as I could about physical, occupational, speech and cognitive therapies, I learned what therapeutic recreation was and how it benefits patients, the role of the registered dietician, the difference between an RN and CRRN. I started using terms like TBI (traumatic brain injury) and CVA (cerebral vascular accident) correctly within the context of a sentence! Working as a marketing and communications professional in this field can be especially challenging because most interactions are with doctors, nurses and therapists who will not dumb it down for the marketing person trying to understand what the heck a nosocomial infection is and why we must avoid them at all costs.
When I joined Highland Associates as a member of the business development department, I once again found myself learning a new industry with new terms and trying to understand the difference between schematic design and design development and what MEP stood for. These are terms that, prior to starting at Highland, had never entered my vocabulary. There is nothing more intimidating that sitting through a meeting where you feel like a visitor from a foreign country, trying to glean information from facial expressions and the sub-text of a conversation. I am continuously learning about the disciplines of architecture, engineering and interior design simply by my interactions with the design professionals around me. With time, the language seeps in resulting in the ability to clearly communicate the benefits our design professionals offer to our clients.
As is the case with any professional in the marketing and communications profession, there is a learning curve involved in understanding what we are tasked to sell, market, promote and publish. No matter what the industry is, we need to be submersed in it and learn the benefits and attributes our particular services will provide to our clients. The learning process should never end and we must continue to seek out new opportunities to learn more ways to reach our current and potential customers.
So, how do we learn to speak the language of our industry? We learn by listening, watching, talking, reading and asking questions. No matter what industry we are marketing, there will always be changes, innovations and advancements to keep up with. Engage fully and align yourself with managers and colleagues willing to teach and explain the important aspects of the industry. Listen to how they speak the language and if you feel like a visitor from a foreign country, remember…When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Most of what I’ve learned throughout my professional experiences was from watching and listening to those who were fluent. Learning to speak the language is a process and an evolution, if we can recognize that much; we are well on our way.
Bridget Goryeb, Highland Associates
Bridget is a member of the Business Development Department at Highland Associates in Clarks Summit, Pa. Her role is to seek out new clients and teaming opportunities, maintain relationships with existing clients and generally market Highland’s services and strengths through printed brochures, presentations, conferences and meetings. She is a graduate of Marywood University and has been on the board of the Marywood Alumni Association since 2005. She resides in Dalton, Pa. with her husband, their two children and two Labrador retrievers.