10 compelling reasons why your organisation needs a communications function
Business narratives are structured and cohesive with a robust communications function
As a communications professional, I was once asked, “Hey, what exactly do you do when you manage Corporate Communications?” George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’ flashed across my mind. “I am the rooster in the company”, I replied. Fast forward to 2020, the question remains, while the answer has changed. The ambiguity of the role and the function’s purpose in an organization still seems somewhat blurry to many. Quite often, budgets for the Communications function is expense non grata. Why does an organization need a communications function? Is it a good-to-have or is it something you need only when crisis calls? For those skeptics, here are some good reasons, why an organization could do well with a robust communications function.
Work from home, is here to stay and companies certainly need a cohesive voice to speak and be spoken to.
We work in a Covid-19 era with work-from-home becoming a long-term game plan. Organizations need a structured communication plan delivered to all stakeholders from one source, aka the communications department,an empowered one at that.
Fast changing environments & technology innovations have changed the business world.
The question ‘how do you see yourself in five years from now’ is obsolete. Business models have been turned on its head, goals and targets have become guessing games. In this environment, technology is playing a great role in every aspect of business. Companies that had not adopted cloud technologies, learnt hard lessons. In times when SaaS applications are ruling the roost, the way an organization sends out its narratives must evolve.
Blurring lines of communication platforms is causing an overlap of traditional and contemporary means of messaging.
Well, consider this. Your CEO’s Twitter handle says something. His statement on the company’s annual report has some strong messages. The company emailer to employees has some messages. Glassdoor and Google reviews of the company by employees and alumni say something. A press release in a traditional print media has some more messaging. The customer newsletter adds to the messages. You get the drift? People form their perceptions based on your communication across traditional and digital platforms.
We are all professionals with a good command over the language. Why don’t we get somebody ‘on the bench’ to help out in the communication department ?
Well if it were for just good language, would there ever be a reputation crisis? True, glossy prints and swanky advertising in fantastic language can’t help sustain a company’s narrative. A strong communication strategy aligned to company vision, mission, goals and objectives is very critical.
A company’s narrative adds up to what it stands for, its brand proposition, its identity in the competitive markets and its defined principles.
Building trust among various stakeholders is an imperative today, more than ever before. Even a start-up has to put in efforts to win the trust of its angel investors if the fledgling has to flourish. A strong communication agenda can be a deal breaker. A random person wearing a communication professional’s hat among other company chores could be a great risk.
Ever wondered where is the difference between what you communicate and how you communicate?
I remember getting a de-brief from an internal customer during one of my stints in a large organization. “I have this issue, can you please prepare a note that we can mail out to employees, clients and maybe the media?” was the de-brief.
The ‘what’: In this case, alter the perception of multiple stakeholders with one standard underlying narrative. It is good to clearly define this core message, a deliberated and calibrated one at that.
The ‘how’: Some possibilities could be – a design thinking workshop with management personnel to cascade the narrative among employees, a media interaction, a strong company report, a mailer to clients, a series of @mention tweets, YouTube videos with positive reinforcements, customer meets with structured messaging, etc.
When it comes to what a communications function does not do, it is to avoid an action-reaction scenario. This only amounts to chasing your own tail while what is imperative is stay outside the vicious cycle.
Ok, I’m buying in. Show me the money, honey.
There tends to be a misconception about the communication function that it is not a numero uno priority in an organization’s spend outlay. Where is the justification for the budgets? Here we go, back to the beginning. A structured communications strategy and plan aligned to business strategy will deliver the business goals. Here is the prime KPI to ensure a robust communications function.
When companies are chasing bottom lines or trying to stay afloat in a depressed economic scenario, few can afford a content generation factory.
Truth be told, with the availability of various technology options and the advent of the gig workers circle, a strong communication function can deliver business value. It need not be expensive proposition if you plan smart. You will never know unless you try!
Cherry picking the best for the communication department to deliver on promises is a marriage alliance.
Best practices for a communications function aligned to company objectives requires a strong communication team in place. Having said that, the best of communications initiatives can get lost in translation if evaluation metrics for communications is not in place. The right team to get the act right goes a long way.
The many hats of the communications function is a melting pot of traditional, digital, hardware, software, content and narratives.
Convergence of visual, audio, traditional & digital to create a multi-faceted, holistic narrative for the organization, is the communication function’s ask. The various hats within the function’s purview is Marketing communication, Employee communication, Investor communications, Digital media communication, Public relations, Branding and corporate identity, Technical writing, are some, with each requiring unique skills of its own.
This is the department that has a bird’s eye view of various other departments in the organization. It is the outsider view from the inside, bringing in a different perspective.
Ever stopped to hear the small whisper around the table that debunks your theory? Listen again, it could be your communications function’s alternative perspective you may want to heed.
(The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy of the company or position of any agency. The examples if stated are meant for mere illustration purposes only.)