What makes a great communicator? Is it the number of Communication classes you’ve taken? Or the amount of press releases you’ve written? Or the number of LinkedIn connections you have? Kimberly Dixon thinks otherwise – anyone can be transformed into a great communicator with eight (not-so-magic-after-all) qualities.
Kimberly Dixon, a UD alumna now working as Vice President of Global Corporate Communications at Weber Shandwick, one of the leading global communications agencies, certainty has the experience to prove her credibility. Since graduating from the University in 2007, she has held numerous positions in Public Relations which have helped advance her career. But in her words, the experience that was most influential in shaping her interest in Public Relations was actually right here at UD, writing for The Review. “It was there that my love of storytelling was born, and where I learned the value of writing with precision and clarity,” Dixon says. Working her way up to become a Managing Editor at The Review, she then had the opportunity to travel outside of Newark to research stories and interview key individuals, allowing her to see how writing and journalism can create an image, one of the fundamental parts of Public Relations. After graduating, she acquired a broad range of experience that has opened her eyes to the differences of working in-house for companies such as J.P. Morgan, versus for a larger agency such as Horn Group, PureWow, and finally, Weber Shandwick. Along the way, she has gained valuable knowledge that she was kind enough to share with us. Below are her Eight Characteristics of Great Communicators:
- A Thirst for Knowledge – Be a lifelong learner, don’t let yourself become stagnant. Ask questions whenever you can and “always be intellectually curious!”
- Seek Different Perspectives – There will be times in life when you will not always be an expert, nor will you be right. In these cases, it’s ok to ask for advice from other people and have an open mind because “diversity of thought is one of the most valuable skills to possess.”
- Listen, as much, if not more, than Talk – Yes, you have to be able to articulate and communicate your thoughts and ideas, but there is a lot to be learned from listening to others. As Dixon emphasized, it always looks good to care more about the people around you than yourself, and as her father said to her, “You have two ears and one mouth for a reason!”
- Be Allergic to the Status Quo – It is easy when you become successful to get such in a rut and revert to the same tried-and-true tactics. But it’s important to ask yourself, “How can I improve? How can I be different? How can I challenge the ‘status quo’ to set myself apart and succeed?”
- Prepare! – The secret to having authority and confidence in any situation, while making it appear effortless, is preparation. Do your research, do your homework, and rehearse!
- Hustle! – What you get out of your career is what you put into it, so make sure to use your energy wisely! Don’t rest on your laurels because the road to success never ends.
- Tell the Truth; Be Transparent – In any industry, but especially in Public Relations, there is a responsibility to be honest and authentic. Doing so will not only make you a better person, but it will also show your integrity and strength of character.
- Make an Impact – As Dixon says, “Communication is the currency of change.” We, as communicators, are in a unique position to make a difference in our world by using our skills and talents for the benefit of the common good.
The best thing about these characteristics, aside from the fact that they can be learned and developed, is that they never stop. We as humans, not just communicators, are a constant work in progress, and we can always find room to improve. Thank you, Kimberly, for sharing your words of wisdom with us and helping us become the best communicators we can be.
Rosalie Baseman is a junior Honors French and Interpersonal Communications double major with a minor in Fashion History and Culture. She will be taking on the role of PRSSA-UD’s Co-Program Director for the 2018-19 school year. She is also President of Yoga Club and Associate Editor of UDress Magazine.