Blogs  / January 14, 2021

Building an impactful communications team with clear roles, responsibilities, scope and budget

by Erik Wagner, Head of Growth

Welcome back to our January blog series focused on “The Executive’s Guide to Building and Leading an Impactful Communications Team”!

In this week’s article, we are discussing how to build an impactful communications team, outline clear roles and responsibilities between the C-suite and communications, and define the optimal scope and budget.

Building an impactful communications team

Communications is a highly strategic function that supports the growth of your entire organization by nurturing and enhancing how your brand is perceived internally and externally. Today, it is necessary for the C-suite to be involved with both developing the overall strategy for communications and delivering consistent messages to constituents.

As an executive, you have the power to set up your communications team for success from the start. For example, if you’re recruiting a new senior communications leader, look for someone who can support top management decision-making based on corporate reputation considerations and the insights collected from listening to and fostering a dialogue with all of the company’s stakeholders—a critical function of communications.

It is also more important than ever for executives to stay involved with communications on an ongoing basis. Here are a few best practices from some of Onclusive’s customers:

  • Treat communications as an essential part of your business, including not just your time as a spokesperson but also ongoing strategic discussions with communications leaders.
  • Have an open line of communication and engagement with the communications team.
  • Empower communications to think about how they can drive and impact corporate strategy and trajectory, and offer regular opportunities to contribute to decision-making.
  • Ask for actionable insights, solutions and measurable results—encourage communications to share unexpected insights, propose an action plan, and then measure and report on the outcome of the action.
  • Set clear goals and expectations aligned with your business objectives, and establish accountability through an ongoing reporting relationship with consistent metrics and outcomes.

Outlining clear roles and responsibilities

Most communication-savvy C-level executives feel that they are personally responsible for this function. In fact, based on recent research, they use about one-third of their own time for all disciplines of corporate communications, ranging from internal and brand communication to investor relations.

However, while top executives see themselves at the center of strategic communication, they also need counsel and support from others to master the challenges of a 24/7 information flow and the dynamics of real-time opinion building in global settings. This is where communications and PR comes in as an important adviser and strategic partner to the C-suite.

Communication is a two-way street, and no one can navigate ongoing conversations with the public better than your communications team. As corporate reputation now matters more than ever, communicators are also more valuable than ever. Their expertise includes not only messaging and campaigning abilities, but also monitoring public opinion and stakeholder interests, identifying opportunities and managing relationships, which allows them to inform decision-making processes that are critical for business growth and success.

While as an executive, you might feel more familiar with the needs of shareholders, customers, and employees, communication professionals are traditionally geared towards journalists, policymakers, and communities. Working together in synergy maximizes the strengths and expertise of both the C-suite and your communications department.

Taking the time to clarify the roles and responsibilities of your executive team versus your communications professionals will ensure a successful collaboration.

Defining the optimal scope and budget for communications

Corporate communications addresses a broad set of internal and external audiences and involves multiple instruments, platforms, and channels. We outlined the comprehensive scope of the communications function in our previous blog post, including employee engagement, building awareness and reputation, strategic messaging, media and other stakeholder relations, media monitoring and crisis management.

When it comes to budgets, all too often communications departments receive left-overs and are the first to have the cuts, unless they have connected their actions and output closely to corporate priorities in a measurable way.

One of the best practices we’ve seen for defining the optimal scope and budget for communications is weighing the significance of the different stakeholders for corporate strategy and the effectiveness of various lines of action. That’s why measuring the performance and real business impact of your communications activity is so important.

As a C-level executive, in addition to being the most sought out company spokesperson and brand advocate, you make the final decisions on the roles, priorities, key structures and resources for communications. The bottom line is, without your cooperation and participation in building the corporate communications strategy, success is impossible to achieve.

Join us for the “The Executive’s Guide to Building and Leading an Impactful Communications Team” webinar on Tuesday, January 26th! Our panel will discuss how executives can better engage with their communications teams and ensure their KPIs are aligned with company goals. You’ll hear both the executive’s and communications pro’s perspectives on engagement best practices and how to lead a successful corporate communications operation.