A communicator’s purpose used to be straightforward enough. Be it at a PR agency or at a Corporate organisation, a communicator had to ensure impactful visibility for the client/brand through various conversations. However, in the last few years (maybe 5?) there has been a change in how a communicator is now viewed. Rather the role of a communications professional now comes embedded with innumerable unseen layers.
Today more than ever Leadership teams acknowledge the successful impact of a communication campaign on the behaviours of the people around, with a focus on building and protecting reputation.
Recently on the weekly PRPOI chats, when I read out an audience question for the panelist on ‘why communication professionals are not picking their boardroom seats’, the speaker just turned around and said – we need to speak the business’ language, when in the boardroom!
Add to this some interesting takeaways from the recent ICCO World PR Report, 2020. The report highlights that – ‘Research, Insights and Planning’ are amongst the top priority for investment in 2021, and ‘Corporate Reputation’ has been the top area of growth, in 2020. Interestingly it deducts that 20% of clients are asking teams to align Communication activities to business goals (the second-highest parameter).
So, if we are already enroute this new journey, why not rework our strategies and head straight for the boardroom. Well, have attempted at some approaches that we could build as eternal for our growth curve.
Boardroom calls for a full understanding of the strategy, markets, opportunities and risks facing every part of the business, gained through experience or after being exposed to operations across the business.
As a communications professional, we always jump in to give solutions or share the results of a particular campaign. If we work with leadership teams to help them understand the skills of being a good communicator, then why not upskill ourselves for other way round? So, when let’s begin using our expertise in understanding the business growth drivers, just as we would do for any campaign. And start aligning ourselves better with the business goals, moving just beyond the marketing or communication campaign results.
In the current times, especially owing to the digital age, we need to move quickly and smartly. Hence, there is an opportunity to get involved in decision-making right from the start, which could then be an organic process to achieve the business goals.
So go back to all those financial results and Annual Reports, read between the lines for the business objectives and goals, see what value you can add to achieve them and what expertise is required for you to fulfil that. We are adept in informing audiences of what our brands do, now it’s time to go back and achieve what our brands need to move up the pedestal.
2. Tipping the scale towards your ideas
As communicators, we engage and collaborate with all key stakeholders internally and externally, and accordingly design best solutions, so why not start this from the boardroom? Be on the same page and the same decision-making table!
Any team first needs to understand your influence, rather the ability to be influential with the target audiences. And this gets easier when you know the triggers to achieve the end-goals. Before every meeting, do a lot of research, make copious notes, stay curious because no question is wrong and ensure your consistent on delivering back. These might seem quite simple tasks initially, but one needs to stay focused on doing this again and again to ensure that there is always buy-in for your recommendations. And that’s possible only when you understand what has to be achieved at the end of the tunnel.
To this add the inclination to be a content curator. The ability to develop content for the company that is relevant and fresh is always a helpful skill to hone. It could be a good way to stay grounded to the big decisions and yet not loose touch on how you can craft better stories.
3. Speak Data-driven language
Of course, you thought this article wont touch about the need for drowning in numbers? You got to be kidding me 😊
We have established above the emphasis to understand business objectives and goals, which should go hand in hand with an in-depth analysis of the financial journey. Know the facts, support your suggestions and approach with clear facts and market understanding. Study on how you would handle the challenges, break them down, bringing to table to the reality on ground and your suggestions.
Storytelling is what we do. So a good way would be to keep it rooted to what drives the business growth. Educate your teams and external partners to align PR plans well with the business team’s goals and objectives. What could be an interesting way, is to use data to showcase how the share of voice through the PR activity has / could be changed.
This might look like a big bucket list, but simple handy tactics for us to start traveling to the boardroom as decision-makers.
Lastly, in all this don’t forget to build your personal brand, your identity. Because this would reflect on how you can drive and grow the organisation you associated with. Not to forget, it would help you create and build enough equity for yourself amongst audiences to be influenced, at a later stage.
So let’s gear up to move roles and newer designations and cubicles (obviously while you work from home!).