Communication teams – we’re often seen, but not heard!

The one question I always hate to see when filling in a survey, online or otherwise, is what area do you work in? Whenever I see this question, unless it’s a comms survey, I know that I’ll have to spend an overly long amount of time trying to work out which job area Communications best fits into because it’s not included in the list.

I often spend longer trying to answer that question than I do the actual main questions I’m being asked. A usual list will have telecommunications in it, but that’s not what I do. It will also have HR and Marketing…but I don’t report into either of those areas either. I do work in an office, but office admin doesn’t really cover my role either. Occasionally, I’ll see something around Social, but that’s only a small part of my job. If there’s a ‘other’ option then of course I can pick that but I don’t really like to. Is comms so obscure and rare that it requires to be included in the ‘other’ option? I don’t think it is, but I’m biased…I work in it!

So what is the reason? Do we blame the person who has done the survey? At first I did…but when you fill in your 20th survey which doesn’t include comms you start to think there might be another reason…could it be our own fault? Have comms put themselves in a position where they’re like a child from the 15th century ‘Comms, should be seen but not heard’. It’s standard practice now for any communications to not come from the comms team, but is that the correct thing to do? Should the comms come from the person in charge of the project, for the poster to just appear over night and for people to see when they get to work or the intranet article to pop up from the magical intranet pixies?

Comms teams now spend so much time making themselves invisible but their comms extremely visible, they’ve created a culture where we can be forgotten about! No one forgets about HR, Finance or Sales…they have very clear outputs which people see. But most comms outputs aren’t obviously done by comms. Maybe this is where things need to change, put posters up during the day so people can ask you a question about it or you can draw more attention to it. If you post things on the intranet make sure your name is on it, look at the tone of voice you use…could it be written in the first person rather than standard (sometimes boring) corporate jargon? If you want to promote a new comms channel or project then do a webinar and use your webcam so people can see who you are.

In reality, we spend all our time raising other people’s profiles, but never our own and then we wonder why people forget about us. I make it my mission for people to know who I am and promote myself as well as the projects I’m working on. This might sound egotistical (and maybe it is) but what it does do, is mean people know that I’m the person to speak to if they have a question on Yammer, the intranet or anything relating to what I manage…which cuts down the amount of time they have to spend looking for me and makes their experience as my customer much better!

So the next time you fill in a survey and can’t find comms in the job roles, it’s time to think that the children of comms need to be seen, heard and remembered!

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About Steven Murgatroyd

Northern Social Media and Comms enthusiast.
This entry was posted in Internal Communications and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Communication teams – we’re often seen, but not heard!

  1. Great article Steve. I know what you mean – it does irk when the nearest profession appears to be ‘writer’ or ‘telecommunications engineer’ on forms.

    ‘Personal brand’ is a key trend for this year, I keep coming across it in various places with calls to action for comms pros to think through the benefits of understanding “commsing themselves” – it doesn’t say that phrase exactly! But I think that’s an apt description that people in IC recognise and the focus is on knowing what works for you and what you want to be known for, be that inside or outside of your org.

    I don’t think all comms teams make themselves invisible. I know that in some orgs they have to be very noisy for a variety of reasons, including justifying and securing budget, so they make a determined effort to be visible.

    I think your point about people knowing who you are internally is an interesting one. In the words of Russian actor/director Stanislavski, perhaps IC pros shouldn’t strive to be “the stars of the show” within their organisations but let their efforts do the talking. Hmm, definitely food for thought.

    In the same vein, you may find this article useful to read. It looks at whether CIPR membership should be compulsory, and was published a few days ago: http://www.robinfenwick.org.uk/2013/01/23/do-or-die-should-cipr-membership-be-compulsory/

    Thanks for sharing, Rachel

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