How many times have the corporate communications and marketing communications functions at major companies been in conflict – one not cooperating with the other; two ships passing in the proverbial night?
The corporate team, which reports to the C-suite, is focused on the corporate brand’s positioning. This work is critical to overall corporate reputation and standing in an industry, a community and the world. Marketing communications, on the other hand, often reports to line of business leaders, or, perhaps, the CMO. This team plays the vital role of driving awareness of products and services to support revenue growth. With these distinct priorities, it is easy to see why sometimes there is a rub between the two – each believing that its role is solely paramount to the success of the company.
Having worked as an agency partner to many large corporations for more than 20 years, here’s what I’ve learned about how to synchronize corporate communications and marketing communications to drive the ultimate business results.
Align the Priorities.
Successful companies with effective communications equally value the corporate and marketing communications functions. Both are so interdependent that focusing on just one to the exclusion of the other is a recipe for failure. Smart companies align these priorities – which often include overall growth of prominence, understanding and preference for the company – to generate maximum value from each function. They shut down any urge within the teams to compete or try to demonstrate the importance of one over the other. And, they make sure both teams understand that the value of their work is greatly diminished without the other.
Bring the Teams Together.
Bringing the teams together does not mean to task one team with both corporate and marketing communications responsibilities. In fact, quite the opposite. Having two teams focused on two distinct priorities is the right way to go. But, these teams should know, care about and have connection with one another. They should share work product and resources, learn from one another, have experiences together and collaborate on a regular basis. By having teams that know and respect each other, results will be compounded. Customers want to buy products and services from companies that are respected and have good reputations. And, unless customers really value, appreciate and desire a company’s products and services, they won’t think highly of the company, no matter how strong their corporate communications program is.
Leverage the Results.
People love to celebrate their accomplishments, and communications professionals are no different. Showcase the work product and impact across the company – both corporately and in the business – and celebrate those accomplishments equally. Celebrate a Wall Street Journal placement that reaches millions in many industries the same as a top tier industry media placement reaching thousands of a specific target audience. Then, leverage and amplify these results via owned, paid and shared channels to maximize the ROI.
Having solid communications across the business does not have to be difficult. It takes careful management, a big picture perspective and a true understanding of the power of communications from all sides. I’ve seen some companies do this well, like at Whirlpool Corporation, and I’ve seen other companies fail miserably – leading to mediocre results and high turnover in the communications department.
Aligning priorities, bringing teams together and leveraging the results will ensure that the communications function is driving maximum value for the business.