Why corporate communicators must expand their roles

Given their access and interactions across all internal departments and tiers, they have great opportunities to succeed. Those roles require different skills and approaches, though.

Regardless of the size of company, corporate communicators wear many hats. Typically, the smaller the company, the more hats they have.

Communicators have to go from juggling tactical efforts such as intranets, digital signage networks, and email, to focusing on more strategic thoughts regarding employee engagement and internal branding.

As most professions evolve, so, too, must corporate communication. So many get locked into the “make things pretty” hat, which is a waste of time, effort and skill.

Communicators are partly to blame for defining their role this way. Many act in much the way the local post office does. They simply take a message and deliver it where it’s supposed to go without adding context or value. Communicators should not be copying and pasting and pushing buttons.

It’s time for communicators to change their hats, shed the tactical nature of how they’ve approached communications in the past and determine how they can better deliver for their employers.

Only four in 10 employees can confidently describe what their company does. Corporate communicators can remedy this sad statistic, however.

Here are a few new “hats” communicators should be wearing:

Corporate storyteller

It’s not a coincidence to see so many former journalists gravitating toward corporate communications. The skills they learned writing and developing stories is exactly what companies need.

Putting company news in context for employees brings the message home. At a recent PRSA event, one speaker shared that only 5 percent of your audience remembers data but 63 percent remember a good story.

Stories keep information alive and help employees to align with companies’ efforts.

Data appreciator

Data collation and analysis may not be fascinating, but these functions offer distinct value for corporate communicators. Communicators get dinged for not being able to provide ROI, but the right data can show the impact that internal communications have on a business.

The more communicators learn to appreciate data and can share the returned value of communications, the more they will be seen as true business partners.

Technology advocate

Technology is dramatically changing employee communications. Sure, there is still tremendous value in print communication (no, it’s not dying), but technology gets people excited.

Whether it’s a brand new social enterprise network, interactive touch screens, or mobile-enabled communications, there’s always something new for communicators to learn about.

This does not come without caution. Communicators must not fall victim to the shiny object syndrome. What works at one company won’t necessarily work at another.

Community builder

Corporate communicators are fortunate that they get to interact with people in practically every department in a company. This can be overwhelming, but it can also be a tremendous asset. Internal communicators get to look at the big picture and can be an amazing community builder.

Employees want to feel that they belong. They want to be accepted. Communicators have the strategies and tactics to create an engaging and accepting work environment, but they cannot and must not do it alone.

Business connector

What’s frustrating is how few communicators appreciate the access they have. Rarely do most employees get the chance to interact with a senior leader in a company, whereas communicators often are on a first-name basis with top-tier execs.

It’s time for communicators to realize how valuable their access is and then make use of it. Because their interaction crosses so many departments, they can transition from problem identifiers to problem solvers.

This article first appeared on LinkedIn.

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