I was in a meeting recently with a group of seasoned professional communicators. As seems to regularly happen, someone was lamenting the fact they don’t have a seat at the decision making table within their organization. Through the course of the conversation I began to wonder if we bring this on ourselves?
- Do we understand what senior management wants from the communications team?
- Do we offer insight into the stakeholders they don’t get from other sources?
- Do we understand the customer in a way senior management doesn’t but should?
- Can we articulate a strategy that shows we understand what they need?
And…do we offer insight regularly and in a way they want to hear it. Not that we need to say what they want to hear. But we do need to speak in language they understand.
- Do we know enough about the activities of competitors and stakeholders that we can answer questions on the spot?
- Do we appreciate and understand management’s goals or are we always trying to sell our own?
And, my favorite…
Are we offering more than media relations? Public relations today is about much more than sending out a press release.
Instead, it’s a complex series of multi-disciplinary strategies that require analysis and understanding before use. In fact, it’s often advisable to offer management a series of options where they could select from different options.
As professionals, we need to be able to demonstrate the numerous tools in the public relations tool box. It’s not that imperative the senior manager/executive understand how to use these tools, or really even use them. However, they must know that their communications professionals do.
If we don’t understand the perspective and vision of senior management; we can’t expect to have that seat. Because, quite frankly, we aren’t helping them.
I would suggest that these questions, and likely many more, should be front and center before we consider requesting that seat. In addition, find ways to gain some understanding of the language of business. It will make it easier to speak management’s language.
Have you gotten a seat at the table? What did you do to get it? What advice do you have for professional communicators still angling for a way in?