Who’s at the table?

Who’s at the table?

Where does your organization’s communication or marketing sit?

Organizational structure is a strong determinant of the effectiveness of communication in both private- and public-sector contexts. Consider two examples:

Private Sector

ISSUE: An established technology provider is targeting new markets and its leadership feels they are not making good headway on getting the revised message out to new (and existing) audiences.
MARKETING ORGANIZATION STRUCTURE: No one on the leadership team has “marketing” in their title. The CEO lightly oversees a combination of internal and outsourced resources – one is responsible for events, one for social media, one for the website. Media relations is outsourced as needed. A new visual identity was outsourced a few years ago with no ongoing brand oversight.
OUTCOMES: When able to commit some headspace to marketing, the CEO considers the various activities in parallel streams and describes the results as piecemeal and underwhelming.
DIAGNOSIS: Until someone “owns” marketing and marketing receives airtime at the executive table, activities will continue to happen ad-hoc and reactively. Without domain ownership, the organization cannot realize the cumulative effects or economies of scale of integrated marketing and communication, in which activities buoy and leverage each other and contribute to the business strategy.

Public Sector

ISSUE: A service department is refining its business processes and systems to create greater collaboration between traditionally siloed business units and a more seamless experience for its clients.
COMMUNICATIONS ORGANIZATION STRUCTURE: Communication with clients has traditionally been managed by the individual business units, including for a subset of clients shared between units. Each division has its own communication procedures and channels. No single entity is responsible for oversight or coordination of communication across business units.
OUTCOMES: Unified communication to shared clients and stakeholders about new processes and system changes is challenging and time consuming, if achieved at all. The organization’s communication structure does not readily support orchestrated messaging across units.
DIAGNOSIS: Until communications is structured to align with the organization’s intention to create a seamless experience for shared clients, communication will remain siloed and will not reflect the intent. Internally, the communication effort will be challenging due to misaligned team structure, processes, and channels.

Summary

In both these examples, the structure of the communications organization(s) is at odds with each organization’s intention to be more effective in presenting its story and messages outward.

An examination of the communications organization structure is likely to reveal that structure reflected or reproduced in the communication itself.

  • If communication sits at the strategy table, it’s got a good chance of being strategic.
  • If communication sits in a central position, it’s got a good chance of being integrated.
  • If communication sits in chairs dispersed throughout an organization, it’s got a good chance of being localized to the unique needs of audiences.

Most organizations today are best served by hybrid and flexible communications team structures.

If your brand or organization needs greater alignment between its intentions for communication and its communications structure, please reach out for a consultation.