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Reinventing Your Comms Function? Here Are Your Three Priorities

As the communications landscape becomes more complex, pressure on CCOs and the communications function is increasing. In short: the way an organization communicates, both internally and externally, is often the difference between its success and failure. And in today’s intensely competitive global market, communicators need to take on more prominent leadership roles in order to contribute and ensure that success.

But it can’t stop there. Fundamental changes to the communications function – such as how it’s structured, who will lead it, and the focus of communications – all need to evolve in 2019 and beyond. Here are some things to think about when you’re planning for the year ahead:

Between monitoring and managing messaging, utilizing a variety of channels, cutting through clutter and dealing with numerous stakeholders, communicators today need to wear many hats. On top of the day-to-day responsibilities, the climate of rapid change and high consumer expectations means that the communications function is increasingly critical to defining and driving the corporate and brand narrative and navigating the tides of employee and public sentiment to stay on course. Communicators are also expected to become integrated partners with marketing, HR, and other functions to ensure that one narrative and voice is incorporated throughout all internal and external initiatives. The common aim is to build across all audiences and jointly strive to reach business goals.

KEY TAKEAWAY: As you start to broaden your function and comms takes on more responsibilities, make sure everything is aligned with the CEO’s agenda.

As the distinction between brand and reputation becomes increasingly blurred due to greater transparency, internal communications teams will need to integrate with external communications and boost digital and social capability. Focus areas and titles for communications professionals will center around strategic business needs and will demonstrate the value they bring in driving growth. Expect communications functions organized around titles such as Customer Insights, Data Analytics, External Relationship Manager and Brand Steward. More mid-level and entry-level associates will take on the day-to-day requirements of social monitoring, posting and submissions – in many cases, a 24/7, always-on operation.

KEY TAKEAWAY: Organizations need to think beyond their existing roles, responsibilities and available resources to be effective both inside and outside the organization.

It’s time for the CCO to break into the C-Suite, but in order to get there, they need go beyond clicks and readership, and connect internal communications to business outcomes and financial impact. A CCO must also provide leadership on reputation, values and culture, and analyze data to understand how stakeholders view the enterprise. The Communications Function at GE, under the leadership of former CCO Deidre Latour, has been recognized for its forward-thinking approach. She completely integrated internal and external communications and implemented a data-analytics approach to developing programs.

KEY TAKEAWAY: CCOs need to utilize data and insights to craft stories that are transparent, strategic and align with an organization’s overall corporate reputation.

Jonny is an Associate Principal at Daggerwing Group with 12 years of consulting experience, spanning cultural transformation, building networks of change advocates and developing organizations’ change and communications capabilities. Recently, Jonny has worked on several projects helping global firms tap into the innovative potential of employees. Jonny has a firm belief that empathy for the impact of change on the individual is key to transformation success – and he has developed a passion for working with clients to bring their employees with them on a journey.