Visit other institutions

by David Harris on August 17, 2011

There are two good reasons to get on the road and visit as many other institutions’ communication offices as possible.

First, forming strong relationships is much better done face to face than virtually. Nothing beats a shaking of hands followed by a conversation in which all of our communicative power (facial expressions, gestures, as well as our voices) is available. Having a conversation on the other person’s turf is typically more comfortable for them which means you can do more to understand their experiences and point of view.

Second, the best way to learn good practice is to observe what others are doing and the best way to observe is to be there in person. Just seeing how another communications office is laid out and what kinds of interactions happen between members of the office can tell you a lot about how it operates. As you spend more time, you see more of the functioning and will undoubtedly come up with some ideas that you can implement back at your home institution. Of course, you might be in a place that isn’t doing too much well. In that case you can at least observe what properties or qualities are causing things to go wrong and will know what to avoid in the future.

You can have as many conversations as you want over the phone or at conferences or other meetings but none of them will really convey how an office fundamentally works. Get in your car or on a plane and do a tour of other communication offices as a great way of improving your own.

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