Challenges come in all shapes and sizes, but when it comes to corporate communications, it’s a big one. First, communication skills are less of a science and more of a skill that must be honed and developed. But few corporate leaders want to spend time on something that they can’t see an immediate payoff for, let alone one that may seem unnecessary in many situations. Did you catch the word “seem?” A lack of communication skills can end up sinking a company in short order, especially if a crisis comes along, but worse still – a lack of those skills can easily start the crisis.
According to Dentsu Aegis Network’s executive chairman, “The communications model changes every six to seven months. There’s media convergence, new technology, and new analytics. It affects how you need to communicate and how people get their information.” That being the case, leaders need to continually practice and improve their communications skills, especially when dealing with the media in any form, including social.
Use New Tools
In our rapidly changing tech world, there seem to be new tools developed every day to help with various aspects of business and leadership. When it comes to communications, finding the newest and best fitting apps can make a huge difference. Take Biz360 and TweetEffect Social for instance. These can help leaders look at and measure sentiment analysis, brand assessment, reputation information while helping leaders add more oomph to their missives to the outside world. But no one says the head of the corporation has to do all this on their own. Hiring experts to help either as employees or consultants can smooth the way both during the present as well as help leaders develop the skills for the future. But when people come in to do the work, they also need the support, titles, authority, and resources to do the job the way it needs to be done without constant interference or need for approval from someone they report to. Not that they should be given free reign, but guidelines for what they can and cannot do on their own authority and the means to do that should be in place.
Allow your communications professionals to train C-suite executives. This gives the leadership a chance to learn, and the communications pro will hone skills while teaching. It gives everyone a chance to see where further work is needed and where strengths are best used. Within an organization, there should be transparency that makes it possible to get work moving forward as well as to set things right quickly when a problem is found. Apportioning blame for a crisis or having a lot of finger-pointing without any positive action only causes more problems. If there’s a problem, one of the best responses is to apologize while you are already finding what caused the problem. Know and pass along the “fix” that you propose as quickly as possible. And make sure that if there is any damage done to others, you are working with them to not only remedy the problem but help them cope with any collateral impact.
In case of any crisis, leaders also need to make sure their employees are informed completely and can help others, let them work for you and finding a solution rather than tying them down and “keeping them quiet.”