Since I started my new job at Careys, I’ve been faced with a similar problem to my role at WHISHWORKS. Namely; how my role can fit into the larger communications and marketing picture for the business. Like WHISHWORKS, Careys is a complex business, with multiple divisions and focuses. Some business lines, such as Scudder Demolition, have been acquired, and others, such as ION Environmental, are much smaller, presenting a multi-faceted collection of skills positioned in different markets and against a range of competitors. Whenever I’ve had a spare moment (and there haven’t been many), I’ve been thinking about how I can contribute to the marketing and communications team in a structured way and help to drive the communication strategy of the senior leadership team.
Simply having a marketing and communications team isn’t enough; like most things in business, communication requires a dedicated and focused strategy to achieve its full potential. You might think that communicating this strategy would be no challenge for the communications team, but this isn’t always the case. Consequently, I’m developing a set of guidelines for driving marketing and communication success throughout a business.
1. Know your business inside out
Reviewing where the business sits in the market and whether that meets management goals sets a solid foundation for a communication strategy. Make sure you have a comprehensive understanding of internal and external factors, key challenges and culture, value and behaviours in an organisation. Designing a set of guidelines requires the ability to provide strategic advice to leaders – you might be an expert on communications, but make sure you’re an expert on the business too.
2. Build in performance measures
The ability to measure and evaluate performance is an essential step to demonstrating the success of your communication strategy. By setting clear goal and objectives for your intended activities, you’ll be able to demonstrate clear ROI on your work. Alongside this, just because you can measure something, doesn’t mean that you should. If you don’t have a clear purpose to act on the information you gather, there isn’t much point gathering the info in the first place
3. Encourage conversations
Marketing and communications can’t exist in isolation from the other functions of the business. Only by engaging in two-way conversations do key stakeholders such as employees and customers feel as though they’re valued. By setting up a network of champions across the business, you can make best practices and new developments far easier to access and market than if you’re working alone.
As part of this process, regular feedback is required to encourage colleagues to participate and feed information forward.
4. Define your priorities.
Do you understand what makes the real difference to communications for your business? Have you got a crystal-clear vision of where you’re heading and why? It’s easy to get tangled up with chasing every shiny project and new technology, but this often leaves you trailing half-finished projects and failing to make an impact. Think about every goal you want to achieve and why. Take the top three, and focus on delivering them as well as you can.
Of course, this is easier said than done. For every other relationship I try to build, I’m faced with an overworked colleague who doesn’t really have time to spare ‘chatting’. The only solution to this is polite persistence. By offering a range of communication channels – face-to-face, email, phone, coffee, lunch etc. I try to increase the likelihood of a colleague saying ‘oh, go on then’. By taking that first step, the channel for information is opened, allowing me to gain an understanding of the business from an entirely new perspective.
I’ve also heard this referred to as ‘building alliances’, which implies mutual benefit for both parties. Articulating the benefits of a new relationship is something I’m still working on – I try to avoid sounding too ‘salesy’ or artificial, whilst still being clear that I can add value in some way to the other party. I\’m still working on the best way to drive a successful communication strategy, but I think these four tips are a good starting point.