Survey: 37 things communicators wish their bosses understood

Respondents listed aspects of our work that executives, chiefs and leaders do not fully grasp.

What communicators wish bosses knew

Open-ended questions are often the most crucial part of a survey.

The freewheeling feedback you’ll receive provides nuance, context and raw emotion that’s hard to capture in other settings.

The 2018 JOTW Communications Survey, conducted in partnership with Ned’s Job of the Week, included a pointed question at the end:

“What is one thing you wish you could get senior leaders or senior management to understand about communications that you don’t think they understand today?”

Of 155 respondents, more than 120 offered insights on this perplexing matter. Here are 37 striking responses:

  1. “That one tactic isn’t king. It’s not just about content, search, conferences, advertising or a webinar. It’s all those combined, and each is valuable and necessary.”
  2. “Budget and staffing needs to meet strategic plan goals.”
  3. “Thought leadership can’t be outsourced. It needs to be authentic.”
  4. “I wish more [leaders] would get how much more audiences appreciate communications than marketing. Buyers are looking for great marketing when they’re deciding what they need to meet their needs.”
  5. “That the cost of a well-run communications program is not measured the same way as their sales or business development programs.”
  6. “That it plays a critical role across the organization—like no other function; [it’s] key to sales, marketing, handling crises or public perception, motivating employees, communicating mission, vision and values to all stakeholders, including employees, customers, stockholders. So, ALL messaging needs to be consistent, one voice: Communications is the core of a thriving organization.”
  7. “It’s a foundational necessity. So many think of communications as a ‘nice to have,’ but it supports so many other functions and strategies of an organization.”
  8. “The communications team must be thought of as collaborators in developing products and services, not just the ones charged with selling them.”
  9. “That reporters don’t write corporate profiles; they cover news.”
  10. “Some of the efforts are long-tail; don’t expect coverage every time you talk to a reporter.”
  11. “Just because they [leaders] pay attention to the news doesn’t mean they know how it works—or what works.”
  12. “Internal communications is as important as external communications.”
  13. “They don’t understand how important it is to have good digital communications tools in an effort to reach all employees in the company.”
  14. “The impact of their hands-on approach to communications. Employees feel more connected when it’s apparent that a senior leader is reaching out personally.”
  15. “Depth of the communication matters; the audience doesn’t want fluff.”
  16. “The overall importance of consistent messaging, particularly when it comes to crisis and strategic communications, and not to play it as it comes.”
  17. “Senior leaders are more comfortable with advertising; it is something they can control and with sponsored content, can push a message out via social media. We can pitch with social media, but actual editorial coverage is not necessarily predictable, nor is the tone or content angle.”
  18. “Numbers on social media don’t necessarily mean much.”
  19. “We do not control the message.”
  20. “That communications isn’t a quantitative measure; it is a qualitative measure.”
  21. “Leaders have a hard time seeing the value unless it can be quantified in dollars, which can be very difficult to do.”
  22. “Organic media relations is much harder these days.”
  23. “How difficult media relations is compared to what is was, even 10 years ago.”
  24. “That communication should be focused on audience needs and measurable outcomes, not on executive egos.”
  25. “I wish they understood the value of storytelling the way I do.”
  26. “Corporate communications is a fire marshal and not a fire chief. Use it to assure problems do not happen, rather than using it to fix problems that have occurred.”
  27. “The difficulty in creating what they call ‘a steady drumbeat’ on a single issue.”
  28. “Press releases do not guarantee coverage, interest, likes, follows or awareness.”
  29. “What it [communications] can do (increase awareness) and can’t do (fix organizational dysfunction).”
  30. “The difference between paid, owned and earned media, and why it’s important to allow PR the time and freedom to manage all three and the patience to allow PR to generate results.”
  31. “That speed is crucial to getting content out. Scheduling time to get videos or photos is important to getting the message to the public.”
  32. “The importance of quick approvals.”
  33. “It’s not as simple as sending out ‘an email’ or one kind of communication. There is a thought process, and it includes customer experience.”
  34. “With all of the noise in social media and differing angles in the press, it is hard to cut through the clutter and say something compelling that people will hear and understand.”
  35. “That it takes time to execute a campaign, and that the ROI may not be apparent within the first week.”
  36. “You can’t just ‘do’ communications or ‘do’ a press release. Even with the advent of the social media age, much about communications is simply relationships.”
  37. “Even though communications results can link to development objectives indirectly at times, the links are still quite potent.”

Did any of the above responses strike a chord? What do you wish execs understood about communications?

Frank Strong is founder of Sword and the Script Media. A version of this post first appeared on Sword and the Script.

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