6 Keys to Success from a Professional Communicator

Author’s Note: This post is a bit of a departure from my usual theme because I had an assignment for PR Fundamentals. It still has to do with communication, though!

Ron Arnst, the Assistant Vice-President in the Brand Management & Media Relations department at Investors Group, agreed to meet with me to give me an idea of what it looks like to be a successful communications professional in Winnipeg.

Ron started his career in broadcasting (mostly radio and some television), but he was given the opportunity to expand his horizons by moving into politics. By becoming a press secretary to cabinet for the Gary Filmon government, it allowed him to make more money and do more interesting work (Ron was press secretary during the Meech Lake Accord negotiations).

He left government in 1995 to work in the private sector during the dot-com boom. After being laid off at the end of the boom, he found an opportunity at Investors Group and has risen to his current Assistant VP position.

During the interview, Ron graciously explained some of the unique aspects of his work in communications for a financial services company in the Winnipeg market.

We discussed the concepts of communications integration and communications alignment, and how they’re not always the same. Although marketing, public relations, and advertising may not always be part of the same department at a firm, what’s most important is that they are aligned in their messaging, goals, and priorities.

We also discussed doing business in Winnipeg compared to bigger cities like Vancouver or Toronto. Ron says working in Winnipeg is both a challenge and an advantage. You have to do more to get recognized, but you’re also removed from the groupthink that can occur in bigger centres.

We began to get into the challenges of regulation in the financial services industry, and I knew I was out of my depth, so I decided to redirect. I asked if he had any advice for someone (like me) just entering the communications profession, to which he replied a strong, “Yes.”

Now, I’m not an experienced enough communicator to ask probing questions about the nature of the profession, but Ron had some excellent advice on getting me there. Here are six of the best quotes he had for me:

  1. “You’re never doing as well as what the next opportunity might bring”
  2. “It’s not your corporate history, it’s your ability that makes you employable”
  3. “Go into areas where you’re uncomfortable. Don’t limit yourself”
  4. “In your chosen area, do as much and as many different things as you possibly can. Especially when you’re starting out”
  5. “Education tells me what you should know, experience tells me what you can do”
  6. “Regardless of what you’re told by others… have fun. Do things that you enjoy, ‘cause you’re automatically going to be good at those… you’re going to put the time in… The worst thing you can possibly do is go into a job that you’re not really sure about, that you really don’t like that terribly much, because somebody thought it’d be a great place for you”

I’d like to thank Ron for taking the time to meet with me and give me (and you) this advice. I wanna know what you have to think of this advice, so leave me a comment!

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