Understanding the Power of Communication

Understanding the Power of Communication

Without successful communication, projects can fall flat on their feet.

In a government sense, if a department can’t effectively tell the government’s story to the citizens, it can end in election defeat.

In episode nine of contentgroup’s podcast, InTransition, we had the pleasure of having distinguished former Australian public servant Carmel McGregor join us on the podcast.

Before her retirement in 2014 Carmel was the Deputy Secretary People for the Department of Defence.

Prior to joining the Department of Defence in 2012 Carmel held a position as the Deputy Australian Public Service Commissioner where she was a member of the Advisory Group on Reform of Australian Government Administration (Blueprint) and led a review of Pathways for APS Women in Defence.

Despite not working in a communications role within government, Carmel learnt the following three communication lessons during her time in the public service that allowed her to excel in her career.

Embrace the Art:

You must embrace the art of communication to have a successful career.

It takes a real skill to handle the volatile world of communication and once you spend some time understanding its dynamics, surround yourself with great communicators to make your life easier.

Build Trust:

In the government you rarely get applauded for your accomplishments, but your failures are highlighted.

You must build your trust with ministers. They are the ones who have been elected, and if something fails they are the ones who will have to deal with the public.

Continued face to face meetings are vital to establishing a relationship.

Give them insightful ideas they find value in, but be prepared not all ideas will be viewed in the same way.

Understand language: 

Speak in a language everyone understands.

That includes everyone from the Minister to the person lining up at Centrelink.

Use your team of communicators wisely to ensure that the department runs efficiently.

It’s important to get on the front foot of every important part of grabbing a story and telling them in your terms as opposed to reacting to someone else’s often misguided interpretation of it.


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Each week a staff member puts pen to paper to write about an aspect of content communication that speaks to them, and hopefully, informs you. This is a space where our passion for writing, learning and sharing information comes to shine.

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