Every day the communications and press offices are subject to severe judgment by those outside the organization as well as internal departments. If they pass each test successfully it will be said that they only did their job. If, on the contrary, the result is not favorable, all the elements that compose it will be questioned. That produces instability for professionals who know how to do their job but who surely fail in how they face each challenge. To be efficient the key is in the foundations that support it.
I have always believed that communications offices resemble an oil platform nestled in the middle of the ocean, not only because it is supported on five pillars but because they’re all the storms and swells of the media climate feel differently, the time is counted for the reaction, many times you work with poor visibility, getting the sniper-style is right, you have to be very patient to act quickly, the minutes run very fast or very slowly, the media and networks all complicate and at the end of the day its members seem more marathoners than office workers. If everything goes well there is only time to take a breath for the next day, if not, it seems that the end of the world is approaching by the critics magnify the errors.
Those who have been in level one activity offices understand me. Those who do not can intuit it by what they have already seen. For both of them, I want to answer the request of several colleagues so that we can talk about how the press or communications office should be organized to be efficient. I believe that it must be structured in five pillars in which its members should be grouped and from there be engaged to overcome each storm.
TEAMWORK: Nothing in communications is achieved alone. As in joint sports, many efforts, various personalities, temperaments, and visions are needed to be strong. The first thing I will say is that the talents are individual but the strength is on the group. An office does not need ego performers but team players As in all groups, they must be led by a leader, but a good leader, who inspires, who motivates, who trusts, who takes care of it, who is recognized by the team many times without saying a word, for his philosophy. Let him know that the losses are his and the victories of the group and not vice versa. The team has to be composed of professionals from all areas of communication, marketing, advertising, design, a good lawyer and an administrator, people who know how to follow instructions, be creative only when asked to do so, who know how to be subordinates or leaders if necessary, prudent, loyal to work, who work with little or a lot of supervision as is required, that can influence internal or external audiences. The most important thing will always be the human factor.
CHALLENGES AND GOALS: they should be able to see their work in terms of tactical actions or strategic lines, that clearly define the processes to meet each challenge, those goals are set and the objective is to surpass them not to meet them, that they have indicators, that work to achieve them, that look at the details or small achievements that if these are reached the big ones will come also. Very important will be that they know how to make use of the budget or the resources because these contrasted with the obtained will give life to the efficiency indicators.
TRADITIONAL AND SOCIAL MEDIA: Realistically understand the role of traditional media and new media. Do not put each other first. Knowing how to combine them, knowing how to exploit them, knowing how to stock them, knowing how to play their game, anticipating them and being more agile than them. Understand that the information is in their field, not theirs. Knowing how to carry them, confront, delay, negotiate and that at the end they always owe a favor. To achieve all this, it is necessary to have in the communications office professionals who have been in the media, who know what their internal life is like and how to better exploit their weaknesses, preferably who have had positions of leadership or opinion in the media. The members of the office have to know very well how are the formats, processes, and routines in each newsroom.
STRATEGIC THINKING: this issue and the handling of mathematics may be the two weakest points for journalists. To avoid falling into that trap equation, you have to be strategic all the time. Differentiate very well a strategy from a tactic. Know how to make or interpret a strategic communication plan and it is very important to have one updated every three years as a flight plan. You don’t reach a destination if you walk for all sides. Be strategic and tactical in handling each situation as required. Think before doing but don’t do without so much thinking. Understand that all communication is important. Prepare the team, train it, instruct it in successful cases and satisfactory handling, eliminate surprise and improvisation in each action. All team members should have good communication skills starting with writing and speaking well. That they have prudence and care to handle sensitive facts. For me, an attribute of this pillar that is very important, and I consider it the best start of all, is to have good judgment and judgment to read situations. Only if the understanding of a fact is good, the second step that is the answer will be effective. Being always people who manage their emotions, not that their emotions drive people.
DEALING WITH DIFFERENT AUDIENCES: this deserves to be a pillar of the office because bad experiences show that this element did not exist or was poorly executed in failed cases. It is very important to know how to communicate with all audiences or interest groups. Of course, have them clear and defined on a map and its risks. Understand very well what is the role of each of these groups, know them very well, communicate permanently through efficient channels. Do not belittle anyone. Understand that here the crises are incubated, growing and reproduced (which will be another article that I promise you), discontent, revenge and retaliation are increased because all these audiences are made up of people with emotions and egos that wait, at some point, take advantage of the organization to which we belong.
These five pillars, at first sight, would make you think that the work is very complex but if you stop to look at each one and apply them to your communications office and your team, in the real proportion of the task they fulfill, you will see that it is an aid to decant your management and take corrective or enhance what you have. The purpose of my writing is no other. I just want you to think that when these pillars do not even exist in the basic elements in your communications office, you will be more prone to lose the daily judgment that your work is done by those outsides as well as within your organization.
As the oil platform, everything that is done there has risks, it can produce large dividends but also many losses. Having an office sitting on these five pillars will strengthen it to avoid succumbing to each storm and to know how to do her job better. The question I ask is: how many of these pillars is your office supported? Think about it and act. To learn more about this topic or if you need to structure or restructure your communications office, simply write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, tell me your project or need and I can surely help you.