Communications is a hard gig. Everyone thinks they can do it – it’s just writing. It is often an undervalued service in an organisation. You can be doing a good job and still getting criticised every day. Here is a tough lesson in communications…good is not good enough.
Doing exactly what is asked of you is one way to deliver a communications service. It is also very boring and will rarely lead to you being respected within the organisation. Doing the bare minimum is an option, but not one that will work very effectively over the long term.
Adding value is about doing more than expected of you. If you want to build respect and be valued within your organisation you need to go above and beyond.
I am the first one to admit that I set very high expectations in my communications team. I didn’t want us to deliver what our internal clients asked for. I wanted to deliver more. They wanted a media release, I wanted an integrated communications plan. They asked to update some web content, we gave them a digital strategy. It was just the type of service I wanted to deliver. I knew it was the way to build relationships, get respect and create trust in our ability.
In addition to ‘over-delivering, over the years there were a few things that I found that were at the core of delivering a great service. I am not saying it’s easy, these things take time, and energy, at times you won’t get it right but they can make a huge difference.
- Get to know the business – Understand their pressures, milestones and legislative requirements. Knowing the business will mean you can pre-empt what your clients need from you. You will be ready to deliver communications services quickly because you already understand what they are talking about.
- Be proactive – Don’t wait for the business area to come to you. If you know an activity happens every quarter, or there is a report due at the same time each year – call them, develop a draft comms plan, call a meeting. Don’t just go in asking what they need, do your research and go in offering a suggested approach.
- Know your channels – You need to know how you can communicate and the capability in-house to be able to reach your audiences. Too often, communications teams have told me that they don’t understand the website because “the digital team runs it” or they “don’t get social media” as someone else looks after that. That is not good enough. If your job is to communicate and you are a member of a team – I don’t care if it’s just to write content or answer the media phone, you need to understand all of the channels at your disposal.
- Keep up to date with latest trends – As a communications professional, you should be able to talk with confidence about the latest trend in social media or the new webinar tools available. It is your job to be across the way that others are communicating so that you can keep your organisation informed. There is nothing more embarrassing (trust me I’ve been there) than when I client suggests the latest new communications tool, and you don’t know what they are talking about!
- Know your environment – Part of being great at adding value is not only knowing your business, but what else is happening around you. Do you have an event planned but something is competing for your audiences time? Has the government just made an announcement that may take away any possibility of media coverage for you? Has an announcement been made that your Executive should be aware of? Being mindful of what is happening, keeping across the media of the day and ensuring people informed is your job as a communications team.
If you aren’t doing any of these things now, you may find it hard to believe that you need to do this on top of your actual work. You are probably yelling at the screen right now – “why should I bother?”, “No one cares anyway.” or “I don’t have time.” But my guess is that you are often in a battle of doing what you think is important and what your clients want. You feel under pressure every day. You are starting to wonder if all the effort is worth it.
If you don’t feel valued in your organisation, maybe it’s time to reassess – what are you doing to change the perception? What type of service are you delivering? What needs to change? What can you do to go above and beyond?
Not sure where to start? Want to talk through your service offering? Give me a call.