The position of communication is very strong at the top
Executive boards of professional organisations are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of communication. Reputation and the impact of communication are becoming regular themes at the top. But at the same time, the position of communication can be improved as far as the rest of the organisation is concerned. “Communications departments are still struggling to do away with the image of an operational ‘cut and paste’ department or naysayers and to take on a more strategic role towards the entire organisation.” This is going to change in the long-term since employees have to communicate more and more themselves and the Communications department can help them with this. That is one of the results of the Benchmark Communication 2017 of Berenschot.
It is no longer just a matter of strategic advice or carrying out communication activities. Communication professionals must have multiple competencies. “To properly facilitate all levels of the organisation, communication professionals must be all-round. They should be able to provide strategic advice on communication, assist employees in performing this task and, at the same time, be able to coach, facilitate, direct and, especially, inspire”, says Robert Wester, Communication Expert at Berenschot.
Compared to previous editions of the Benchmark Communication, the impact of positioning and reputation on the overall strategy of organisations continues to increase. Monitoring and evaluation of the communication strategy is also taking place more often. This is done through internal evaluation, external research into image, reputation, imaging and impact on specific target groups.
The basic principles of communication strategy also form a guideline for employees in their communications about the organisation. “If employees want to act as ambassadors of the organisation on Twitter, then they must fully share the same values. Authenticity is paramount. Consequently, internal and external communication organically overlap each other”, says Wester. The great strategic challenge for communication departments in 2018 is clear: “Set up the communication function in such a way that the entire organisation can communicate better with the environment. For instance when it comes to participation, co-creation and alliance formation.”
In addition, the Benchmark Communication shows that digitisation is continuing in the organisation and setting up of the communication function. Many organisations are focusing on new digital resources, techniques and strategies that strengthen their own communication channels. Some organisations are organising content rooms or image teams, where stories from the organisation find their way to important target groups. This also fits in with the trend of increasing image communication, which could already be seen in 2015 and 2016.
In addition, the method of working during a crisis is increasingly being incorporated into the regular processes. For example, through 24/7 monitoring and the setting up of a social newsroom for both crises and the daily communication work, in which emphasis lies on information provision, signification and damage control.
About the Benchmark Communication
With the Benchmark Communication Berenschot provides insight into the organisation of communication in various organisations. Sixteen organisations participated in the third edition: the municipalities of Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht and Woerden, the provinces North Holland, Utrecht and Groningen, Ministry of Finance, Institute for Sound and Vision, National Police, SVB, Stedin, Prorail, NVB, Union of Water Boards and Waternet. The fourth edition will be launched in September 2018. In addition, Berenschot will shortly introduce an international benchmark communication and there will also be the possibility to be compared per sector.