Friday, July 8, 2011

Getting Organized for Communication

It was one of those meetings that galvanized for me what chief executives often look for in a communications person. The executive in question was someone I had known for many years and who needed help with some new corporate communications initiatives. He worked in an industry with which I had no experience. When he asked me if I could help, the first thing I pointed out was that I had no experience in his industry and didn’t consider myself a “techie.”

He said, “I don’t need a techie, I need someone who can organize us.”

Based on our previous discussions, I knew I could do that, and in the end not only was I able to do so but I also learned that I could be a techie if the situation warranted. In fact, I learned that if you can master the full range of communications disciplines, it does not matter which industry you represent and where you operate.

Since then, I found that this CEO wasn’t the only one who wanted help in organizing his company’s approach to communications. So what are the key issues that lead to this?

Growth – When companies grow, they find that they need new and different capabilities that their early stage communications function did not possess. Perhaps they need to add staff, but just as importantly, they need to rethink the role of communications in their growth and management structure.

Downsizings – When companies shrink, they find that they may not need certain capabilities they’ve maintained for years, but that they do indeed new ones to reposition themselves in their markets.

Repositioning – As nimble companies adjust to changing market and operating conditions, they sometimes need to make adjustments in the way they communicate. Often, they need to communicate with more intensity than they have before to ensure that their stakeholders understand what they are doing, why they are doing it, and where they are going.

These are just three reasons companies need to reorganize their communications efforts, but enough to gain a sense of what you may really need in a professional communicator – an organizer.

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