What Fatherhood Can Teach Us About Communications

Businessman getting a visit from his son child at work, playing around and having fun. Children in the workplace concept. Vector illustration.

Communications isn’t a field for the faint of heart.

On any given day, we communicators can find ourselves counseling clients through uncertain and rapidly evolving situations, making multiple rounds of edits to work products from multiple points of view, and strategizing on how to connect effectively with various audiences, clients, and colleagues.

Achieving success in this arena requires patience, purpose, quick wits, an open mind, a creative spirit, and a touch of magic.

In many ways, working in communications is a lot like parenthood.

Being our best for our clients often looks similar to being our best for our kids. In both cases, we’re expected to show up each day with responsibility, accountability, creativity, inspiration and attention. The difference, of course, is the personal love we pour into our families.

As a dad of three young boys, I’ve been reflecting on what parenting and communicating have in common. With Father’s Day upon us, here are six things that fatherhood has taught me about communications – at work, at home, and in life.


Lead with Empathy

In this highly polarized post-pandemic era, communicating with empathy is more important than ever. Consumers in general now expect it. Gen Z consumers – a quarter of the world’s population – insist upon it.

Empathy has become a brand differentiator for those who embrace it. It’s just as important that we lead conversations with our children with empathy. When your children feel seen, heard, and understood, their self-awareness and behavior improves and we forge a closer connection.


Have Patience

We’ve all felt it – our internal temperature rising from the latest round of “improvements” to a thoughtfully crafted press release or the nigh-impossible deadlines to meet.

Being a parent also requires extraordinary levels of patience. The endless stories about Minecraft, the 10-minute recap of a 30-second YouTube video, and the hour-long bedtime routine all build a patience muscle that can make any client or creative tribulation seem like child’s play.


Be Open-Minded

As I often remind junior colleagues, no one has all the answers. Good ideas can come from anywhere, and the most experienced communications practitioner – just like the most experienced parent – still has room for improvement.

Just as we improve ourselves as communicators through learning new skills - like AI or influencer marketing - we improve ourselves as parents by learning new parenting tips and tricks (and remembering the empathy).


Embrace Diversity

Savvy communicators know that diversity isn’t a box to check; it’s valuing people for who they are.

Just as every audience, client and stakeholder is different, every child is different, too, with each requiring a different approach. Embracing these differences is critical – our youngest son is deaf, and learning the culture of the deaf and hard-of-hearing (DHH) community has unlocked a rewarding new chapter of fatherhood, one celebrating diversity and accessibility.


Keep it Local

Home is where the heart is. As parents, we often seek out local shops and restaurants both at home and while traveling. And consumer research shows that parents, especially those with young children, prefer shopping local.

The same goes for media – a solid majority of people trust local news more than any other source. Whether searching for a hardware store for weekend projects or a newspaper in which to land a client news pitch, local matters – especially for public affairs.


Bring the Magic

Just like parenting, working at a communications agency can be demanding, highly fulfilling and will test your skills. And each day is an opportunity to either meet our obligations, or stretch ourselves to bring creativity, innovation and magic to the table.

There is a real satisfaction in producing content that makes a client’s eyes light up, or devising a fun idea that helps land new business. It’s even more satisfying to delight your kids with silly games, creative play, or the focus and energy that shows how much you care.

Being a good communicator is like being a good father. Both require compassion and creativity, enthusiasm and ingenuity, determination and discretion. Both entail being driven to get it right every day and being able to acknowledge that no one does – but you try anyway.

The luckiest people in the world get to do both jobs, and work hard at doing them well.

Franco Ripple is a Vice President at Direct Impact.