What happens when the Communicator-in-Chief lacks a PR or marketing background?
Some time in the new year someone will ask you to endorse your organisation’s communications plans for 2015. Which is fine. You either manage the communications team or are responsible for its PR campaigns.
The decisions you make will determine how the dollars are spent, the priorities for your staff and, most importantly, how your brand is expressed. Yet you may have no training or background in communications or be new to the job.
Communications is a top role for CEOs. I’d say along with strategic planning it’s the single most important thing you do! Your words, deeds and attitudes set the scene for how your PR and marketing team works and ultimately how successful they are.
If you lack the context or competence to really judge the merits of what is presented for your sign-off, here’s five things to ponder as you review the draft sitting at the top of your in-tray.
Audiences Please make sure any proposed arrangements cover internal and external audiences. It’s often too easy to focus on customers and communities – the outside world – and forget your own people. If your employees start off 2015 in the dark don’t expect them to play a part in promoting your intentions.
It’s not about you Sometimes a plan is written to the boss’ preferences. Which is all very flattering but often not effective. Ask yourself … will this proposal satisfy what my audiences really need to or want to know? And how do your communicators intend to convince people your issue is worthy of serious attention? What evidence will they offer and when? People often take a long time to warm to a new idea so how will your communicators roll out and sustain a decent conversation with your community, citizens or customers throughout the next 12 months.
Stale or fresh? Is what you are reviewing sufficiently fresh to attract and engage people? A communications strategy similar to the one you approved in 2013 or 2014 most likely lacks energy and audiences will respond accordingly. That is unless you are 100 percent convinced your past efforts have been remarkably brilliant.
Keep it real? All of us aspire to Oscar winning campaigns. Yet that’s rarely possible unless you’re very cashed up and inspiringly creative. Most of us aren’t … so does the plan awaiting your signature mix tactics and activities which can engage people while remaining practical, affordable and consistent with your values. It’s at this point you decide the balance between going Hollywood and starting out with something you can afford and then build on if necessary.
Staying connected Before you pick up the pen and give approval, remember although you may be no PR or marketing guru, at the end of the day you are responsible for that plan. Along with everything else in your organisation. So how will you monitor the progress of communications efforts in 2015 and what triggers will cause you to step in, insert your authority and keep things on track?
Throughout 2015 your communications team will be busy with strategy and tactics but you always remain the Communicator-in Chief.