Julia Willoughby has over 35 years’ communications consultancy experience. She established WPR Agency (originally called Willoughby Public Relations ) 25 years ago and was managing director, before becoming chief executive. WPR employs a team of 54 and is the largest communications consultancy in the UK Midlands. In 2016, Julia led an MBO that has enabled her to enjoy other interests and spend reduced time in the agency. One of these interests is mentoring entrepreneurs.mail the author
ITL #229 Rethinking resources and skills: whose job is it anyway?2 months ago
I have just watched seven senior partners of a surveying firm spend too many emails and chargeable fee hours debating the best internal and external support structure for their communications and marketing.
It all kicked off with a simple appointment requirement but as the process went on and everyone chipped in, the result was chaos. Senior partners, who no doubt are great on a construction site, having firm, unqualified views on what would work best but
In fairness, they are not alone. I have seen a growing number of
There are a number of reasons why.
The traditional marketing team coordinating in-house communications or communications agencies is not now always appropriate. The growth of digital channels, changing approaches to traditional media, the importance of incorporating wider communications activities and less reliance on traditional advertising requires a rethink on resources and skills.
Disjointed and time-consuming
They look at functional roles rather than the results they want. For example, they will recruit or
The same surveying company I mentioned earlier was thrilled when their social media executive showed initiative and came up with content for an internal newsletter.
As the executive was only posting out a couple of posts across Twitter and Instagram a week, no wonder they were coming up with other tasks…they must have been bored out of their brain!
No set formula
I would advise senior teams and directors to ask
The professional should assess the business and strategic objectives, how the plan is moving forward and at what pace, the stakeholders and audiences, how the current communications
Part of the review should look at whether the communications executives can grasp topics of interest, create and engage in conversations that identified audiences want to be part of.
Don’t switch off
You may be switching off at this point, thinking this is far too obvious. Keep with me though as here is where it often gets tricky. This is the stage when it may become clear that the loyal communications employee who has been with the company for a decade does not quite match any of the roles listed. Before it becomes a major HR issue, consider if the person can be trained or redeployed and if an external consultancy could work to share, or act in an advisory capacity.
I am all for giving people a chance to grow and develop into roles.
I have often thought it would be a good idea to set up a mentoring army of highly experienced communicators to step in to help motivate and train in-house communicators.
Do let me know if such a team exists.
The best solution I am aware of is when effective external consultants form a good working
After the mapping
Anyway, once the dream team is mapped out, the in-house and consultancy roles and responsibilities set down and existing or new people put in place, my advice is to give the new team a three- to six-month trial and check if it is working and where changes need to be made.
Throughout the process, the chief executive or managing director sometimes ask if there is any merit in having a communications director on their board.
To answer this properly would need another good 800 words.
In my opinion, there should be someone responsible for regularly briefing the senior management team on what is happening, the results achieved, what is planned, the reasons why and input required from them. In
So to go back to the surveying firm and their chaotic approach to working out their team, it would have been a good idea to empower one of their senior people to manage the process. With the help of an experienced communications adviser, of course.