Communications. It’s fast-changing, that’s for sure. But it is useful to future gaze a little and think strategically about how our teams will look in the future so that we can prepare for it.
By Shirah Bamber
I recently threw out this question on the Comms Leads group hosted on Slack*:
"What will comms teams look like in five years' time?"
"Smaller," "more digital," "more engaged and engaging," "more flexible..." - a quick poll amongst colleagues across the U.K. provided expected results. Change is afoot and I am pretty sure you'd have to live under a rock not to notice.
The specifics may vary, in terms of team size and structure, but the sentiment is the same - whether you view it as opportunity or challenge, our teams are changing.
Gone, or at very least going, are the days of communications teams' primary functions being press related. The days of churning out press releases, cutting out articles and chasing our tails at the behest of journalists are making way for dynamic, responsive and engaging campaigns, with perhaps a whole lot of tail chasing at the behest of the general public, who won't wait very long for our responses on social media.
And everyone seems to agree that also gone are the days of silos and specialisms within a communications team, partly because even the mammoth councils are being forced to reconsider their familiar way of working in the face of budget cuts.
But I think it is also because at least some of us recognise that what has worked, isn't necessarily going to work anymore, and certainly does not seem to be the most efficient way to proceed.
At the risk of playing my own little game of buzzword bingo, our future/emerging teams need to be more agile, filled with so-called 'specialist generalists' and have a far greater emphasis on creative problem-solving on behalf of their organisation.
Hierarchies and multiple tiers may need to give way to matrix-style of structure and networking (internally and externally) will be essential as we look to partnership working to creatively find new ways to meet our objectives with diminishing budgets.
It can all sound a little depressing, I know. But the truth is, you probably also love it.
The challenge, the sheer span of what you get to be involved with in a single week, and the opportunity to make a real and measurable impact for the greater good is addictive. Personally, the fact that it cannot continue how it has always been is a breath of fresh air, and I can't wait to see what happens next.
And I look forward to playing my role in shaping our future comms teams.
What do you think our teams will look like? Tweet me @Shirah_Bamber and @comms2point0 to share your thoughts and have a chat on Twitter.
This post has been inspired, and fed into from the final exercise for the 2017 Future Leaders Programme, which is run by LGCommunications.
*If you’re an in-house comms leads and would like to join the Comms Leads group on Slack please drop Darren an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Shirah Bamber is communications and marketing manager at Preston City Council
image via Florida Memory