The To-Do List for Every New Corporate Communications Manager

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So you’ve just landed a new corporate communications role.

Congratulations! So have I.

I’m a month or so into a new role and absolutely love it. And naturally, I’ve been focused on all the things a good corporate communications manager should have in place.

I’ve shared a list below for you but first – please note – this list doesn’t apply to my specific role now. Rather, it’s a generic list for corporate communications managers in all sorts of sectors, based on my 20+ years in PR, media relations, digital communications and more.

My five things to address in your first week as a Corporate Communications Manager:

1. Is there an existing communications strategy?

A lot of organisations will have a communications strategy in place, but a surprising amount of organisations don’t.  If you’re a communications professional, you know the value of a documented strategy which outlines your business objectives, your target audiences and your key messages. (Don’t forget internal audiences – staff, volunteers and so on). Once your plan has those elements in place, your strategy will outline tactics over the coming 12 months or so. Things like media relations, events, website updates, newsletter content and so on. It all addresses the questions: who do you need to communicate to + how?

2. Is there a spokesperson policy?

Who is authorised to speak to the media? Who’s authorised to speak to community groups  and the wider public? Don’t assume that everybody knows. In your new role, check if there’s an existing policy and if there is, does it need to be updated or changed? (While you’re at it, check if there’s a staff social media policy).

3. What’s the content approval process?

As a Corporate Communications Manager, you could find yourself writing media releases, speeches, website content, newsletter content and more. Make sure you know who needs to approve what before anything is distributed. And get your approvals in writing.

4. Is there a crisis communications plan?

What happens during a crisis? Who is notified; who monitors community and media responses; who helps to guide your organisation’s response? Who do you communicate with and how?

These are all key questions which you DO NOT want to answer at the last minute. You need a documented crisis communications plan which acknowledges the importance of the Corporate Communications Manager – and also your Social Media Manager. I’ve worked with several organisations on their crisis comms plans over the years and it’s an interesting exercise, donning your black hat and thinking through different crises and who you may be required to inform.

Related reading: Social media’s  part in your crisis communications plan

5. Are there existing brand and style guidelines?

Check for brand guidelines that not only outline use of the corporate logo, but any details around your organisational values, style, persona, tone of voice and terminology. While many organisations have a brand guide, very few have such a style guide. When I worked in tourism many years ago we had a style guide which outlined the names we used for certain South Australian regions, how we expressed people’s titles, whether we wrote in the first or third person and so on. This is akin to a style guide you may find in a newsroom and can be extremely useful. Not every organisation needs one, but you’ll find that in today’s social media age, more and more organisations would benefit from one.  How do you express yourself on Facebook and Twitter? It’s worth considering.

Got something to add to this list? Or maybe a question. Please contribute in Comments below.

 

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