Money is tight so budgets are being cut. That’s difficult and demoralising enough. But when you hear the words “Achieve more with less” you know it’s worse than that. It’s a case study in expectation management gone wrong.
Banging your head against the desk is an entirely reasonable response. Give it a try. But it sadly doesn’t give much return on investment. So here are three things you can try that might make the year ahead something of a surprise success for you, your team and your organisation.
1. Help colleagues see communication as a strategic tool, not an end-of-project add on
Too often, the comms team end up wrestling with the press at the end of a project when mistakes have already been made. But if comms experts can be involved earlier in the decision making process, and can focus on encouraging particular behaviours from target audiences that are essential to your business plan being achieved, they can add far more value. Time spent showing colleagues how better communication can help them achieve their goals should reduce the time you spend putting out fires and increase the time you can spend in support of the organisation’s business plan.
2. Focus on what moves the organisation forward, not what delivers most outputs
Take the opportunity to audit your audiences and their current perceptions. Make sure you know what they think and how you need to reinforce or change their perceptions. Then focus your attention on those issues that are most important to the business rather than those activities that generate most media coverage or reach most people. Important stuff will be cut, no doubt, but it won’t be the most important stuff. With the right focus, you could achieve more for the organisation by targeting the right interventions at the right audiences than by increasing impressive looking outputs that don’t change minds and alter behaviour where it counts.
3. Don’t let anyone tell you digital is free
The explosion of digital communication is fantastic. It opens up channels across the organisation and pretty much anyone can get involved. But there’s the danger. If anyone can do it and you don’t pay for space it must be free. Where do I sign up? The fact is, bad digital communication might not cost much but it won’t achieve anything. Good digital communication requires authenticity, so people across the organisation need to devote their time. It requires good content, or people will simply go elsewhere, and it’s about dialogue not broadcasting messages. The channels have to be monitored and maintained and that takes time. Yes, use digital. But invest time and money to make it work.
So there you have it; three things to think about before the new financial year. And when communications has been radically improved and your organisation is flourishing there’s only one thing to focus on. A budget increase for next year.