Eight Steps To Building A High-Performance Communications Team

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  • Published on September 6, 2023

If you're already in a position of leadership, you understand the importance of presenting your agency's messages to external stakeholders.

However, the role of the communications function internally may be less clear. Successful agencies recognize the pivotal role of the internal communications function in implementing senior management's messages throughout the human resources, marketing, training, and information systems functions. Therefore, it is crucial to invest strategically in building and developing a coherent communications team. Here are eight steps to building a high-performance communications team for your agency.

Know the cost of a bad hire

The hiring process may seem expensive, but the cost of a bad hire is far greater. Recent research shows that a bad hire can cost between 2½ and 5 times the annual salary for a public relations professional. The cost of a bad hire is not limited to a negative impact on the communications team, but also includes mismanaged or missed opportunities. Communications professionals are often your direct link to citizens and/or media, potentially increasing the negative impact of turnover.

Hire for core competencies

The hiring process for communications team members must be managed professionally, utilizing time and attention from senior leadership. Senior management must work directly with the communications function to provide leadership, direction, and values from which all key messaging flows. It is essential to ensure that your communications team possesses the appropriate skills and knowledge, including emotional intelligence, strategic visioning, cross-functional experiences, technical gurus, and business intelligence and execution.

Identify strategic thinkers

The communications function is key to successful implementation of strategic initiatives throughout the agency. Finding the best strategic thinkers across all organizational lines greatly enhances the planning process. Look for individuals who have a good idea of desired outcomes, describe problems from the strategic management point of view, and understand how the pieces fit together.

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Build your team

Teambuilding for the communications function can be easily overlooked. Encourage strategic thinkers to assist in the identification of key stakeholders. Offer team building and training, which are proven to produce measured rewards for organizations of all sizes.

Set up key performance indicators for communications

Research is the only reliable method to learn the effectiveness of any function that impacts messaging. Conduct a world-class communications audit to offer a baseline to measure the impact of future opportunities on your strategic marketing communications plan.

Coach into new shoes

No communications professional can just walk into the job and instantly understand the myriad of events going on all at once. Individual coaching includes providing a qualified mentor, sourced from either inside or outside the organization.

Conduct a communications audit

Effective and credible communication is essential to building and maintaining a knowledgeable, supportive and productive work force, and to keeping open lines of communication with external audiences. The process always begins with a professional communications audit conducted with a trained facilitator.

Get your plan on target with realistic expectations

With information gathered through auditing, your organization is poised to develop a strategic communications plan. The plan provides the research necessary to evaluate what ideas should be considered for implementation. When integrated into the overall operations, the plan gives you a one-stop resource for everyone in the organization to understand, use and follow.

Successful management of your communications team involves understanding that the function must be considered strategic and not tactical. High-performance companies pull together their best thinkers to develop integrated plans without separating public relations and human resources from other aspects of comms activities. An excellent communications team is a vital building block of the brand-building process, which is the foundation of your corporate identity.

‍Building a high-performance communications team is not a one-time effort but a continuous process that requires ongoing investment, strategic planning, and evaluation. By following these eight steps, you can build a communications team that will help your agency achieve its goals and enhance its reputation.

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