It strikes me that there is an interesting parallel between being a strategic communicator… and being a chef.
A chef is respected for his or her mastery of the craft. A chef is able to perform at a sophisticated and uniquely competent level because of a deep understanding of all aspects of the profession – the needs of the clients, the specialized ingredients, the kitchen staff and the tools of the trade.
It’s that depth of understanding and insight that makes the difference between a true chef and being a cook. Now, don’t get me wrong: there’s nothing wrong with being a good, solid cook who can reliably produce a meal.
The issue though, is whether you are limited by thinking like a cook, if what you really want to be is a chef.
A Home and Garden TV show might be sufficient to teach you to be a cook – the host simply mixing pre-measured ingredients blindly into a bowl resulting in a satisfying meal.
But a true chef provides a level of sophistication and savvy that cannot be replicated through a simple how-to show or book. It takes years of building knowledge, insight and experience to pierce to the level of chef. There is a scarcity in that – anyone can be an adequate cook, but few can be inspired chefs.
To me, that is the essential difference between being a communications strategist, valued for offering unique talents and insights to an organization and being a communications tactician working on the daily grind of reacting and churning out product.
The magic for communications strategists is in deftly dealing with the shifting demands of our clients, the fires in our kitchen and the various pots boiling over to masterfully create value that cannot be replicated by others.