Demand for strategic communications leadership is growing fast, mainly driven by the digital revolution. Executives in business, not-for-profits and government are realizing that effectively managing relationships and influence is key for success.
This radically new marketing landscape has caused many experienced professional communicators to re-examine their own readiness to succeed in today‚Äôs ever changing and hyperactive digital culture.
At the forefront of this revolution is an innovative executive education program at McMaster University (http://mcm.mcmaster.ca) called MCM (master of communications management). In the new digital world, organizations need to strategically build, manage and evaluate relationships with stakeholders. Whether it is internal communication, government relations, marketing communication or advertising, fundraising and advocacy, the professional communicator‚Äôs role has expanded and magnified. Communications has come of age and it needs a new class of highly trained strategic managers, consultants and entrepreneurs to make sure it is being optimized for sound return on investment.
The MCM is specially designed for professional communications managers who want to take their careers to the next level. Pioneered by Terry Flynn, a successful PR industry entrepreneur, agency owner and professor of communications, the MCM has quickly become the most prestigious executive master‚Äôs degree for communicators in Canada.
Flynn‚Äôs goal for the MCM was simple: to propel professional communicators‚Äô careers into the executive boardroom, to give them a seat at the decision-making table. So, he proposed something Canadian business education had never seen before: a hybrid learning program aimed at practicing communications managers that provides a winning combination of cutting-edge management training, PR management strategy and mass communication theory. The program is offered in partnership with the prestigious Newhouse School of Public Communication at Syracuse University in New York.
The program had to be innovative and draw on McMaster‚Äôs strengths in business and communications. To get there, Flynn and his team designed a curriculum that focused on Canada‚Äôs specific legal, political, economic and regulatory environment, while providing crucial comparative case studies to the United States and the United Kingdom ‚ÄĒ two major markets where Canadian communications executives often do business.
The MCM had to fit the lives of busy working professionals, while providing solid networking opportunities to its students and communications leaders from across Canada. This meant developing a unique blended learning model of short, on-campus residencies and conveniently scheduled online interactive tutorials.
The program is a true Hamilton success story. Every graduate has seen career growth: a promotion, increased income, higher consulting fees or the prestige of winning international awards. In fact, MCM students recently swept the prestigious New York-based Arthur W. Page Society Awards in the annual business communication case study competition.
Alex S√©vigny, the new MCM program director and social media expert, is excited to take MCM even further: ‚ÄúCommunication is now a key part of decision making at the highest level. Our graduates are uniquely equipped to take leadership in those roles. We want the MCM credential to be synonymous with chief communications officer or vice-president, communications.‚ÄĚ
There‚Äôs no better way to sum up how the MCM is fostering a new way of doing business in communications than to quote MCM graduate Don Smith, director of operations, public affairs branch at Canada Revenue Agency: ‚ÄúTo me the value of the MCM program was immediately apparent. What I learned was so applicable. I could put theory into practice as a professional communicator right away.‚ÄĚ
MCM is another homegrown example of Hamilton thinking big and taking the business world by storm.
Dr. Nick Bontis (NickBontis.com) is a professional speaker, management consultant, business adviser, and founding faculty member of the MCM program.