“Communication is key to whatever happens in the future”
The second set of commencement addresses begun with a talk by Fiona Cassidy, Director, FR Consulting from New Zealand. Fiona is the first chair of the Public Relations Institute of New Zealand and she is also Secretary, Global Alliance. It was an honour to listen to the Commencement Speech 2020 by Fiona Cassidy.
Fiona Cassidy greeted everybody with a bright smile which she wore throughout the session. She started by warmly congratulating the students on completing their program at SCoRe and went on to talk about her PR journey, some challenges faced by the industry, and how New Zealand has tackled COVID from a communications perspective.
Cassidy started her career as an army officer. “What I learned from being a New Zealand Army Officer for almost 14 years, were skills of leadership. One of the fundamental skills to be successful in public relations is to understand leadership.” Some lessons that she took with her from her army life into her communications career were
After leaving the army, Cassidy went on to become the Army Public Relations Officer. Some skills acquired from her former career which she could put to use in as a PR professional, were strategy, planning, and the ability to make complex situations simple.
“Technology has made our life faster but it does not remove the basics,” she said addressing the non-negotiable requirement for a PR professional to possess basic communication skills such as good writing, prompt stakeholder engagement, and listening skills.
Establishing media relations is another integral part of the job. In order to develop strong journalist relations, understand their work deeply and then approach them. Media landscaping and scanning across various media organisation, will help get ahead of the game. She emphasised the importance of holding on to one’s ethics and integrity especially as a public relations professional. She substantiated all of the aforementioned with anecdotes of campaigns she had been a part of, which led her to the next important rule – to always have a connection.
For a campaign, it is not important to always have the fanciest of ideas but it is essential to have a connect, in not just campaigns but everything we do. Fiona Cassidy explained this with the example of the communications campaign run by the government of New Zealand. She said that its success was owed to consistent messaging and faith in leadership. Communications in action were instrumental in New Zealand’s battle against coronavirus.
This pandemic will make our profession challenging as there is a stark difference in the dynamics of the industry pre and post-Covid. “But communication is key to whatever happens tomorrow,” she said.
In the end, the session was opened for questions from the students and Fiona answered each of them with utmost patience and grace. Her journey from the New Zealand Army to Public Relations left every student inspired and empowered.
– Udita Mehta
Udita Mehta is a part of Class of 2020 of PG Programme in PR and Corporate Communications at SCoRe, Mumbai. She completed her winter internship with Avian WE
Udita pursued her B.A in Journalism from MOP Vaishnav College for Women, Chennai. She is an ardent storydweller and a budding storyteller. Public Relations to her is a people-centric business and she enjoys being on a mass communication front. She is an avid reader, a film buff, a foodie, and a chai lover. She is passionate about environmental issues, especially water conservation.