A communicator is just that, one who communicates. Often the term is reserved for professionals such as journalists, editors, radio emcees, business communicators, scientists, talent agents, those in media and public relations, among others—individuals more likely to have been trained in the roles, responsibilities and ethical practice of the trade. Alder (2002) states in his ‘Handbook of NLP: A Manual for Professional Communicators’ that the responsibility for a communication lies with the communicator (pg. 78). Though most communication happens as part of a two-way process, one can communicate any number of impressions as well as elicit emotional and behavioral responses that result in a communication effect (Alder, 2002, pg. 78).
Technology has helped to evolve this communication effect and information reach, but not just for professionals. Now anyone with access to an Internet-connected device has the means to communicate on a global level, which can make it difficult for professionals to cut through the clutter, so to speak. Not only are contributions competing for an audience in a wide sea, trustworthy resources are a necessity to validate the credibility of the material. Due to the increasing amount of information contributed daily in our digital recesses anyone seeking to communicate professionally should evaluate and adopt a code of ethics such as those set forth by the International Association of Business Communicators or the Society of Professional Journalists, and above all contribute material that is honest, fair, and credible (IABC, n.d., Article 1; SPJ, 2014, para 1).
While a predominate role of a communicator is to inform, technology has changed how, when, and where this process can be transcribed. The IABC cautions in the preface of their code of ethics that because hundreds of thousands of business communicators worldwide engage in activities that affect the lives of millions of people, being a professional communicator is a power that carries with it significant social responsibilities (IABC, n.d., para 1). Whether in the form of an article or blog, video, or social media post, communications can traverse geographical barriers in an instant. As such, communicators need to evaluate their content and any potential ramifications that may result and to tailor their messages accordingly.
I have a belief that we are all communicators. However, there are also many skills and tactics that separate the professional from the occasional conversationalist. When in doubt, as a rule of thumb, professional communication is legal, ethical, and in good taste (IABC, n.d., para 4). Neil Griffiths, Director of Brand & Strategy at SNC-Lavalin says that the future of communications starts with every one of us according to his interesting thoughts in this video from 2013 that are just as relevant today:
Alder, H. (2002). Handbook of NLP: a manual for professional communicators. Gower Publishing, Ltd.
International Association of Business Communicators (IABC). (n.d.). IABS code of ethics for professional communicators. Retrieved from: https://www.iabc.com/about-us/leaders-and-staff/code-of-ethics/
Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ). (2014, September 6). SPJ Code of Ethics. Retrieved from http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp