What Most Bosses Get Wrong about Communication
Most organisations now appreciate the need for a communications function within their establishments.
In Zimbabwe, some state-owned enterprises and local authorities, which have been in existence for donkey years are only starting to recruit public relations personnel.
Yet despite this drive, some still get it wrong on what communication is all about.
Having a communications function within the establishment is one thing but having a functional one is another thing altogether.
Positioning of Communications
In some organisations, communication is relegated to one of those functions that are not highly regarded. This is why sometimes they recruit personnel at a lower level. The grade will be nowhere near the top five on the company’s organogram. Under the circumstances, there is no way one can then value the importance of communications. Organisations should appreciate that they will only be served to the level of the grade.
This is further compounded by the fact that the person in charge of the organisation’s communications sometimes does not sit in board, let alone executive committee meetings, where strategic issues are discussed. Yet they are expected to champion the organisation’s communication based on what non-professional communicators think should be communicated.
The other common mistake that both private and public organisations make, is that they appoint lawyers as company spokespersons. As to what informs that, one can only wonder. The same reason the organisation cannot appoint a communications person as the company lawyer, should equally apply when it comes to appointing spokespersons. Communications people are trained to communicate while lawyers are trained to be lawyers. That is just the way it is! That is why some organisations end up with square pegs in a round hole.
Organisations should consider having the communication champions attend board and executive committee meetings where strategic decisions are made, if they are to be better served. While some may argue that they have functional feedback sessions, the risk is that the person providing feedback may only say what they understood and leave out everything else.
Communication should be proactive
Often, organisations remember the importance of communications when they are under a media or stakeholders onslaught and it is too late. Yet, effective communication should be proactive than reactive. By being proactive, the organisation is able to influence the narrative but if a narrative has already been established by other stakeholders, normally it is what then carries the day. This is why communication should not be an afterthought. It should be acknowledged that while the communication function may help in crisis communication, it is not always the case that it will succeed. It can be too late to redeem the organisation’s reputation yet that would have been avoided, had communication been proactive.
Public Relations is not all about the Media
There are bosses who think communications or Public Relations is all about media coverage, to the extent that they get angry when the organisation does not appear in the media. Regrettably, some end up appearing in the media for the sake of it, with no message at all. Yes, it may be good in terms of increasing the organisation’s visibility but empty on content, which is why some stakeholders end up losing interest in reading those articles. As an organisation, you should only appear in the media when you have a clear message that you want to share.
How we can help you.
At Melonpine Consultancy, we understand that communication is central to organisations’ success. That is why we craft unique communication strategies that help our clients achieve successful outcomes through proactive approach to communication.
Melonpine Consultancy is an integrated Communications, Stakeholder Management, and Monitoring & Evaluation consulting and training firm incorporated in Zimbabwe. Our company prides itself in the calibre of its consultants and trainers who have extensive practical and applicable real-world experience in Communications, Stakeholder Management, and Monitoring & Evaluation.