There are parts of a business that make money and parts that cost money. There is no question that companies need support services. It would be hard to make money without an accounts receivable department; the departments that make money need robust systems to do their jobs, which IT provides.
In his book, “Zone to Win,” Geoffrey Moore includes the “Productivity Zone” in his matrix. This, he says, “is home to a host of enabling investments in shared services” that include marketing, technical support, manufacturing, supply chain, customer service, human resources, IT, legal, finance, and administration. “Simply put,” Moore says, “any function in the corporation that does not have direct accountability for a material revenue number goes here. The focus is on applying sustaining innovation to productivity-enabling initiatives.”
The fact that communication functions do not have accountability for a material revenue number, however, does not mean these departments cannot contribute tangibly to the bottom line. Other support functions have adopted this view. Human Resources, for example, has transitioned from a largely administrative function to a partner in the C-suite, consulting on strategic decisions based on the value of their insights.
That is, they add value to the organization.
Typically, corporate communication is viewed strictly as a cost. That’s why, when the economy sours, it’s a no-brainer for leaders to see the communication function as a target for savings.
Many communication departments have already undergone the transition to a value-add function in their organizations. IABC’s Fellows believe it is time for the rest of the industry to follow suit. The activity focus — cranking out intranet posts and press releases, producing events and crafting collateral — needs to give way to a value focus: The measurable gains the communication function creates must be greater than the cost of producing those gains. The communication value proposition should be clear: We either make money or save money; if our efforts produce neither, we need to question why we’re doing it.
On April 18, four Fellows gathered to discuss this evolution in episode 44 of the “Circle of Fellows” program.
Mary Hills’ career as a marketing and communication professional has been in companies undergoing significant evolution, change, and growth. She has held leadership positions with responsibility for developing plans and schemas to support long-term growth and business sustainability goals. She has more than 20 years experience and expertise in designing and delivering training and development programs for companies and organizations, bringing theories, models, and frameworks into everyday practice. In addition to her role at HeimannHills Marketing Group, Mary serves as Adjunct Faculty in the MS – Global Strategic Communication program at Loyola University Chicago. Mary speaks internationally and nationally on marketing, communication, standards, and practices.
James E. Lukaszewski, America’s Crisis Guru ®, is a bestselling author, national speaker, and trusted strategic advisor to FPO and NPO business operators and leaders during crises, disasters, reputation attacks, contentiousness and when the boss’s future is at stake. Corporate Legal Times listed him as “one of 22 crisis counselors to have in your speed dial when all hell breaks loose.” For more than 30 years, he has confidentially guided hundreds of company leaders thru tough, touchy, sensitive situations. Lukaszewski’s strategies inspire constructive, ethical problem resolving management behavior. A powerful and inspirational speaker, he teaches executives and managers the lessons he has learned. A prolific author, he is quoted and interviewed often as one of the most recognizable leaders in his profession. Lukaszewski is on the web at www.e911.com.
Jim Shaffer is a business advisor, leadership coach, author, and speaker. As leader of the Jim Shaffer Group, he helps organizations accelerate results through superior strategy execution. The Jim Shaffer Group creates hard business results by translating the business strategy to the people who need to implement it, aligning systems, processes, and culture to make the gains sustainable. Jim was an architect and leading practitioner of Towers Perrin’s (now Towers Willis Watson) change management consulting practice. He designed and produced the IABC Academy Course, “Managing Change Communication to Drive Results and Value.” Some of his change management clients have included: Abbott, ConAgra Foods, FedEx, IBM, ITT, Mayo Clinic, Medtronic, Owens Corning, Pfizer, Toyota.
Angela Sinickas is the founder of Sinickas Communications, which has worked with companies, organizations, and governments in 32 countries on six continents. Her clients include 25% of the Forbes Top 100 largest global companies. Before starting her own consulting firm, she held positions from editor to vice president in for-profit and government organizations and worked as a senior consultant and practice leader at Hewitt and Mercer. She is the author of a manual, How to Measure Your Communication Programs (now in its third edition), and chapters in several books. Her 50+ articles in professional journals can be found on her website,www.sinicom.com. Her work has been recognized with 20 international-level Gold Quill Awards from IABC, plus her firm was named IABC Boutique Agency of the Year in 2015. She holds a BS degree in Journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an MS in Leadership from Northeastern University.