By: Chania Crawford
Vice President of Corporate Communications at Hilton Hotels and Resorts, Kent Landers, opened ICON day two with a keynote address and essential career advice for future public relations professionals.
Landers graduated from the University of Tennessee at Martin with a degree in communications. He previously worked in various leadership roles at Coca-Cola for 10 years and served as the External and Corporate Communications Director at Delta Airlines in the early 2000s.
Landers took the time to explain the importance of adapting to the changing world as a PR professional. He used the acronym VUCA to explain how professionals can adapt and be successful in a changing environment.
V in “VUCA” stands for volatile; volatile means possessing the ability to change quickly and unpredictably. Landers used the example of when he worked at Delta Airlines in 2001 during 9/11. Landers and the Delta Airlines communication team used volatility to deal with the crisis and uncertainty around airline companies after 9/11.
U in “VUCA'' stands for uncertainty, meaning nothing is guaranteed and you must be ready for anything to happen. Careers as PR professionals will be uncertain, especially for those who want to do crisis communications. It is essential to never be too comfortable with “normal” because the world is ever-changing.
C in “VUCA” stands for complexity; everything is more complex than it seems, especially what is seen on the news. The relationship between an organization and its stakeholders is complex and needs to be understood and upheld by a company's communications team.
A in “VUCA” stands for Ambiguous. At times during a situation or crisis, there may be a lack of clear information and communication between all parties involved. PR professionals must communicate clearly and concisely so all parties involved understand the situation.
“It’s important to take a step back and remove your personal beliefs from the situation before taking action,” Landers said about ambiguity.
Landers closed the session with 10 pieces of career advice for young PR students. He tells students to think about,
Thoughts from a PR student