Leslie Stefanik, Vice President, Marketing, PublicRelay
Today’s communications leaders are increasingly feeling the pressure to prove their department’s value to executive leadership. While some assume this means attributing revenue, your team’s business contribution doesn’t have to equate to a dollar amount to have impact.
One of the ways communicators can have the most impact is by becoming an integrator across the business. This theme was brought up repeatedly in a recent CommPRO webcast in which three expert communicators from PNC, Zoetis, and Strategic Profiles Management discussed their success stories from the field.
PR & communications is in a unique position within an organization to contribute to several company-wide goals. Comms works across departments to raise awareness of their colleagues’ work, enhancing brand reputation, and contributing to each goal they touch. It’s one of the only functions to know what’s going on in all other departments, making it a natural integrator.
Former Chief Communications Officer at PNC, David Chamberlin, provided a high impact, but simple example of how comms can integrate an organization. After David arrived at PNC his team began sending out a newsletter that reported on upcoming events, press releases, meetings, and issues for the company. The newsletter made people aware of the happenings around the company at an enterprise-level for the first time while showcasing the ways in which corporate communications could support other departments’ initiatives. The positive feedback was immediate. People wanted to get communications involved in their own efforts, now seeing the department as a strategic player and someone who could help them do their jobs better. Once your colleagues see your team as essential to doing their job, the business impact is immense.
To have this kind of impact though, you must first build trust with other departments by aligning communications objectives to the objectives of the business.
When creating a communications strategy for the 5 year anniversary of their IPO, Zoetis’ VP of Communications Bill Price created alignment right from the outset. His first step was to have discussions across departments and with his CEO to understand what everyone wanted to get out of this company milestone. Bill and his team were then able to leverage the event to achieve the desired outcomes, building trust in the comms function to help executive leadership and other departments achieve their goals.
Graeme Harris, CEO of Strategic Profiles Management, shared a similar story of building trust with his executive team. We always say that communications must be aligned with the business, but Graham flipped this on its head and instead offered that the business align with comms. Graham convinced his executive committee to require a certain number of media activities per quarter for the exec team, using data to prove the positive impact that spokesperson activities have on the brand. From then on, the communications team was invaluable to the c-suite because their advice and expertise directly affected the executives’ job performance. With continued success of the media activities, trust grew between the executives and the comms team, eventually leading to the communications department taking over the execs’ social media feeds with little editorial review.
In each of these success stories, accurate measurement and analysis enabled them to define strategy and demonstrate their accomplishments. Tying your media measurement to your business goals will enable the integrator role and increase your business impact.