Prowly #PRChat with Adeeba Hussain, Communications Consultant

Where else can go and get more insights into the PR world in just a couple of minutes than Prowly #PRChat? 

(Spoiler alert — nowhere!)

In this series of quick takes from pros from across our industry, you get to know what the movers & shakers of PR think about current topics, how they feel about many of the standard challenges we face and much more. 

This time, we’re talking to Communications Consultant Adeeba Hussain. She brings a very useful and diversified background in local politics and both private and not-for-profit sectors to the table when she applies her expertise as an experienced communications professional. 

A big proponent of using storytelling in brandbuilding, Adeeba is certified member of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, the Institute of Internal Communication and of AMEC (International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication).

Here’s how she answered our questions.

What made you decide to pursue a career in communications?

I was working for the Children Services Department at my local council when an organisation restructure made me move from an administrative manager role into communication.

The department lead wanted to improve the way the council communicated with schools, and I was tasked with launching a weekly school bulletin. I found I enjoyed the project. Sourcing and managing the content, writing the articles, and generally being in the role of editor.

After another re-organisation I moved into the Corporate Communication Department. That’s where I gained experience working with media, writing press releases, and managing media enquiries from journalists. I formed relationships with key internal and external stakeholders from executive councillors, department portfolio leads and journalists.  This gave me an insight into how the complex environment of local government works.

In my early thirties, a new graduate, and the mother of two young girls, I decided I wanted my next role to be in the private sector. I applied and was successful in securing a communication role wholly on merit with engineering and innovation defence company BAE Systems, and there I stayed for just short of 10 years.

While there I completed a diploma in Public Relations through the Chartered Institute of Public Relations. By the time I left, I knew I wanted to concentrate my efforts on internal communication and effective employee experience.

What is a commonly held belief in PR & comms that you passionately disagree with?

That anyone can do PR and communications. I strongly disagree because no one thinks they can do the job of an accountant or HR person, but yet most people seem to think they can do our job. We are strategic professional communicators who help organisations share their story both with the internal audience – employees — and the outside world of the consumer.

What’s a resource/tool/channel PR & comms professionals aren’t using correctly or to its fullest?

My personal experience is internal PR and Comms professionals aren’t using measurement to evaluate the effectiveness of the communication they are sharing on behalf of their organisation.

Do you think storytelling is necessary for PR & comms?

Yes, there is no better way for an organisation to share its strategy, purpose and values with its employees. Through the art of storytelling an organisation should be aligning its purpose, strategy and values with the impact they want to achieve to create that meaningful employee experience.

What skills do you think PRs need to be successful long-term?

I believe public relations practitioners need to be authentic, which in turn will help them become resilient. Most importantly, make sure they keep on top of trends and best practice. Learn and educate themselves with the changing horizons, of what works and what doesn’t.

What trends are you seeing in PR & communications that you’re excited about?

It’s not a trend yet, but I would like measurement and evaluation to become part of the DNA of communications planning. Currently, measurement, in the internal-employee communication sector, is very much an afterthought. This makes if difficult to measure the content you’ve shared with employees on behalf of the organisation and difficult to measure the value the content has brought to the employee experience. Often, in internal/employee communication, measurement is an afterthought.

How do you go about measuring the effectiveness and impact of your PR efforts?

In the words of Stephen Covey, “Begin with the end in mind.” I work out with my client what impact they want to achieve with their employee communications and how it aligns to the organisation’s purpose and strategy and work backwards from there. I include measurement and evaluation into the comms planning process – it’s a must, part of the DNA of comms planning.

What’s the best advice you can give PR students and interns?

To be authentic and compassionate professionals. Always ask the question “Why?” Ask the question of leaders and your organisation – what impact they want to achieve. Does that impact align with the organisation’s strategy, purpose, and values, if not, why do leaders and organisations want to communicate it?