Break Out of Your Communications Silo

When you’re in the trenches with the communications team trying to put out fires and respond to reporters, it’s easy to lose contact with the C-suite, business development and even the sales team.

However, when communication professionals work in silos, it can end up being inefficient or even downright counterproductive to the efforts of your organization as a whole.

Proactive and consistent engagement with senior management can mean the difference between getting your budget cut and getting a seat at the table when big announcements and decisions get made. Here are a few ways to break out of your silo, gain trust and align your PR, marketing or communications work with the rest of the organization.

 

Show your value

When the going gets tough, communication budgets are often the first to get slashed. Senior management will want to understand what your team members do and whether you can accomplish more with less. Update them with high-level status and progress reports before they ask. When possible, include metrics and examples of success that highlight how your social media strategy grew brand awareness by 30 percent, or how your PR team deflected a crisis from hitting the news cycle.

 

When communication professionals work in silos, it can end up being inefficient or even downright counterproductive to the efforts of your organization as a whole.

 

Create high-level ambassadors

Sell senior management on your communication strategies so they can then help socialize the plans and ideas up the ladder. If you can get business development on board with a new digital marketing campaign, you’ll have greater resources and buy-in to help execute your plan. Their endorsement goes a long way toward engaging spokespeople from various departments and geographies.

 

Telegraph positive messages

Create buzz around the office about your team’s activities using social media or internal communications channels like an employee newsletter or intranet. Transparency and communication ensures that other teams understand the communication initiatives and ideally will want to be part of them.

 

Discourage rogue spokespeople

A plugged-in PR team should always be kept in the loop when their spokespeople are talking to media. Doing PR in isolation invites the risk of enabling rogue spokespeople who haven’t been media trained or prepped for certain topics accepting interviews or making off-the-cuff remarks to reporters. Sometimes even the most innocuous-sounding interview topics like “innovation” or “diversity” are rife with landmines, so it’s best to establish a policy that encourages people to come to you first to discuss media opportunities.

 

Don’t miss the boat on big news

There’s nothing worse than being the last to know about a product launch or big new location. In order to leverage good news and temper bad, you must have a seat at the table when senior management is sharing information. Have a plan in place for outreach to different stakeholders like investors, customers, media and the general public, and communicate the importance of that plan so that senior management doesn’t inadvertently spill the beans too early. A casual mention of that big new customer to a trade outlet will dash your hopes of a Wall Street Journal exclusive.

 

Create a comms-centric culture

When senior management is in sync with the communications team, it helps create an environment where people understand the importance of sharing information with you and seeking out your help. Get management and employees on board with respecting plans, timing, and message discipline. Listen carefully to their objectives and offer solutions for how your team can help achieve them by engaging the media, customers and other audiences.

On the other hand, you don’t want to inadvertently take your communications strategy in a direction that is counter to your company’s business development plans. What you do should always support management’s vision for growth in the coming quarters, so break down your silo and ensure you’re aligned with the organization’s main goals.

 

Is your communications team in sync or in a silo? What are your plans to break down your silo and establish more collaborative communication in the next year?