I talk a lot about communications professionals embracing their natural role as trusted advisors. Doing so requires us to stay at the top of our game, consistently working to develop the skills needed to effectively advise and support every level of an organization. We are so much more than media professionals looking for that next big media hit (and I know – it feels amazing when it happens!). But if we want senior leaders to see us beyond the box, it’s up to us to educate them.
We talked about this last week during “StratChat Weekly”, a room I host in my Strategic Communicators club on Clubhouse. Everyone’s mics flickered in agreement (that’s “applause” on Clubhouse ? for the uninitiated) when someone talked about the challenge of having leaders understand the complexity of our work: the backgrounding; the reading, viewing, and listening to ensure we’re considering various points of view; the way we must connect with staff from multiple departments to ensure we get the fullest picture possible; looking at how the marketplace is responding — spitting out our brilliance takes time, right?!
We know our role as communications expert is invaluable to any company that wants to generate revenue, expand its reach, and make an impact on the audiences most important to them. But understanding how important you are is just the first step.
In order to gain the ear and trust of senior leaders, it is important that you…
- speak up,
- ask questions, and
- offer comprehensive strategic solutions that can be implemented.
Speak up by asking to be in planning meetings — and lead with value. Draw a clear parallel between the effectiveness of outward-facing communications and organizational goals. I hear time and again that the communications team is often brought in after planning has already taken place. Make yourself invaluable by staying connected to departmental leaders and staff. Ensure you understand how all the puzzle pieces fit together so you’re armed with insights when you give them the necessary nudge to be a part of goal setting.
Ask questions that challenge the “status quo.” And note: you’re more likely to be able to do this in an authentic way if you’re staying connected to staff. Curiosity is key! Pose thought-provoking questions that inspire deeper thinking about an issue within the company. Why would anyone care that our company is doing XYZ? What makes us different? What would staff say is our most valuable quality as an organization? What would the community say? Challenging leadership to look beyond the traditional “top-down” approach can expand their thinking, strengthen their planning, and demonstrate your value.
Offer comprehensive strategic solutions that can be implemented whenever you have the floor! The best way to do this? Get cozy and familiar with the strategic communications planning process. Click here to download a quick refresher on the six steps I believe PR pros must take to transform their business with strategic communications. When you embed this process into your practice, explain and advocate for it, leaders will inevitably look to you for solutions. And when you present your strategic plan, ensure action items are clearly rooted in organizational goals.
By offering this level of insight and expertise, you’ll not only move into the role of trusted advisor, but you will also bring out the best in leaders, staff, and ultimately, the brand!
Every organization needs a trusted communications advisor — and it should always be you!
Without a solid planning process to fill in gaps and maximize results, you’re limiting your ability to guide them, your role, and the opportunity to charge a premium for the incredible value you bring.
If you want to learn more about how to move from communications practitioner to trusted advisor, send me an email with 7 words: Jennifer, I am ready to make more!