In the wake of 2009’s economic turbulence, management teams are tentatively preparing for the slow rebound that many thought 2010 would promise. Now, just over a month into the new year, these C-level executives are taking stock of the priorities they set out initially to achieve business growth and, in turn, are revealing big opportunities for PR workflow/communications management.
Take, for instance, the results of Gartner’s global annual CIO survey, in which IT professionals outlined plans to transition from recession to recovery and growth in 2010 through the adoption of social technologies such as virtualization, cloud computing and Web 2.0 technologies, marking a significant departure from their 2009 strategies.
These findings certainly ring true to communications professionals, who have already leveraged social technologies to streamline their own strategies and operational responsibilities. For C-level IT executives to shift their attentions to social IT technologies (and the optimization and collaboration they enable) implies a larger need for all organizational departments to synchronize their objectives with those of the overall business—a need that can be met by starting with the PR/communications function.
The increased importance of the communications function throughout a business requires PR executives to coordinate multiple moving parts and to make sure all relevant parties are on the same page. Likewise, PR departments now have a greater need to:
• Communicate with other parts of the business because of social media, such as customer service and sales;
• Stay coordinated across multiple regions, issues and business units; and,
• Automate certain processes for greater efficiency and consistency.
But first, in order to be synchronized with other business functions, communications processes must also be standardized in the same way, so that overarching efficiencies and measurements can be implemented.
Advancements in PR workflow and communications technologies make these viable solutions for driving organization-wide synchronization. However, in the absence of these available enterprise technologies, communications executives can begin to foster synchronization with other functions in four ways:
â–¶ Synchronize plans: The most successful PR professionals synchronize their communications with their organization’s business plan, which may include separate plans for operations, technology, sales, marketing, media relations, etc. When they’re all in lockstep with one another, you can better anticipate best- and worst- case scenarios and how to deal with them in the marketplace.
â–¶ Synchronize relationships: There are no silos anymore, thanks to the ubiquity of social media. If a customer complaint becomes a viral YouTube sensation, it’s everyone’s business. In these situations, the strength of your relationships with other business units becomes critical.
To synch up your relationships with other departments:
• Learn the objectives and pain points of your counterparts in operations, sales, marketing, technology, HR, etc;
• Keep an eye out for issues or problems that could have an impact on their day-to-day operations; and,
• Cultivate relationships beyond the C-suite. Hold meetings to deal with issues jointly.
â–¶ Synchronize tools: Depending on available resources, organizations might employ solutions ranging from free monitoring platforms all the way up to robust media monitoring and analysis tools. Monitoring helps support reputation management activities by helping your team to:
• Keep tabs on what’s being said about you;
• Respond in a unified and consistent manner when the time comes; and,
• Form and sustain relationships with customers, audiences and other stakeholders on relevant channels.
â–¶ Synchronize messages: In PR/communications, every message must map back to your plan to ensure delivery to the right audience via the best channels and to guarantee it is consistent with other departments’ objectives and messages.
By taking steps to synchronize their plans, relationships, tools and messages, PR execs can drive organizational success in 2010—and beyond. PRN
Kevin O’Neil is president and COO of dna13, a maker of communications software. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.