Dear communications professional, you’ll get there first!

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On May 20th 2014, this article was published on the Social Media Week Rotterdam website.

Times are changing for marketing and communications professionals and social media are to blame. The ‘communications window’ that was specifically designed to attract different target audiences and that was carefully placed in front of the organization to pull them inside, is losing its functionality. Social media opened all the company’s doors and windows. Target audiences are peeping in, because employees are (unknowingly) ‘leaking’ information through their Twitter accounts and LinkedIn profiles.

An issue? Not necessarily. A challenge? Definitely, but the good news is: you – as a marketing or communications professional – are now able to support your colleagues in achieving their business goals and at the same time achieve your communications goals. Even better; you’ll get there first!

Those horrible silos

It’s actually not that strange of an idea that marketers, external comms people, and professionals (you know: those other people in your company) are working towards the same goals: developing great products or services for clients and teaching them how they can best use these to overcome the challenges they’re facing.

In reality, external comms tends to be focused on building a strong brand, marketers try to sell the next big thing through an ad hoc campaign, and the other professionals in the firm are getting annoyed, because they don’t feel the marketing and communications department is servicing them well enough.

Why is it so hard for people in the same company, to work towards the same goal? Well, it all has to do with silos. Those horrible silos that came to be when the organization grew larger and the CEO stopped selling his company’s products and services to his clients himself and hired sales, marketing, and communications professionals to do the job for him. One part of the company remained focused on developing products and services, while the other part focused on selling them.

But – wait a minute – whom are you developing for and whom are you trying to sell to? Correct, they’re both clients.

Business goals and bottlenecks

So, when you think of it, there’s no need for a disconnect. Especially, when both the professionals within the organization and the professionals responsible for sales, marketing, and communications focus on the same goal: creating great products or services for clients and teaching them how they can best use these to overcome the challenges they’re facing.

As a communications professionals this means you need to start thinking and talking euros (or dollars, pounds, et cetera), instead of reach, brand value, and reputation. In other words: learn the language of your colleagues and start thinking in business goals.

Here’s a quick example: When you ask a co-worker to start blogging to increase brand awareness, you’ll double her work. Instead, when you tell her you’ll help her attract new clients by positioning her as a thought leader and for that you’d like her to write four blog posts a year, you’re helping her achieve her business goals. Even better: you’ll reach your goal (which was brand awareness, if you’re still thinking along those lines) before she reaches hers.

At the same time be careful not to form a bottleneck. Communication departments are pretty strict about outgoing messages. Although this is essentially a good thing, it’s killing agility and authenticity. Instead of controlling all these messages, educate people on the guidelines you have in place and help them create the most effective updates. If you have over a 100 people in your company on a blog, or LinkedIn, or Twitter, it’s impossible to check everything they post. Instead, encourage them. Have as many people as possible do as little work as possible, that’s my motto.

I look forward to your comments on this blog post. In future posts on this platform, I’ll talk more about possible scenarios to start using social media effectively as a business tool and measuring it’s impact.

Main image: Jochem Koole, license: CC BY

Published on: 14 June 2014