Today’s communications leaders are increasingly feeling the pressure to prove their department’s value to executive leadership. Some assume this means attributing revenue, but the business impact of PR does not have to equate to a dollar amount.
One of the ways communicators can have the most impact is by becoming an integrator across the business. This theme was brought up repeatedly in a recent CommPRO webcast in which three expert communicators from PNC, Zoetis, and Strategic Profiles Management discussed their success stories from the field.
PR & communications is in a unique position within an organization to contribute to several company-wide goals. Comms works across departments, raising awareness of their colleagues’ work, enhancing brand reputation, and contributing to each goal they touch. It’s one of the only functions to know what’s going on in all other departments, making it a natural integrator.
Below are three ways top communicators integrated their organizations and increased the business impact of PR:
Former Chief Communications Officer at PNC, David Chamberlin, provided a simple, but important example of the communications department integrating the business. After David arrived at PNC, his team sent out a newsletter that reported on upcoming events, press releases, and issues for the company. The newsletter made people aware of the happenings around the company at an enterprise-level for the first time. It also showcased the ways in which corporate communications could support other departments’ initiatives. The positive feedback was immediate. People wanted to get communications involved in their own efforts. They now saw the department as a strategic player and someone who could help them do their jobs better. Once your colleagues see your team as essential to doing their job, the business impact of PR becomes immense.
But to have this kind of impact, you must build trust with other departments by aligning communications objectives to the objectives of the business.
Establish Common Goals
When creating a communications strategy for the 5 year anniversary of their IPO, Zoetis’ VP of Communications Bill Price created alignment right from the outset. He had discussions across departments and with his CEO to understand what everyone wanted to get from the company milestone. Bill and his team then leveraged the event to achieve the desired outcomes. This built trust in the comms function to help executive leadership and other departments achieve their goals.
Become a Trusted Advisor
Graeme Harris, CEO of Strategic Profiles Management, shared a similar story of building trust with his executive team. We always say that communications must be aligned with the business, but Graham flipped this on its head. He instead offered that the business align with comms. Graham convinced his executive committee to require execs to engage in a number of media activities per quarter, using data to prove the impact of spokesperson activities on the brand. The communications team became invaluable to the c-suite because their advice and expertise directly affected executives’ job performance. With continued success of the program, trust grew between the executives and comms team. This eventually lead to the communications department taking over the execs’ social media feeds with little editorial review.
In each of these success stories, accurate measurement and analysis enabled them to define strategy and demonstrate their accomplishments. Tying your media measurement to your business goals will enable the integrator role and increase the business impact of PR.