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traditional PR firm.

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More than a
traditional PR firm.

More than a traditional PR firm.

When Revenue Grows Beyond $1-2 Billion: The Business Case for Corporate Communications

Post by Linda Thrasher, Himle Rapp's Corporate Practice Leader. You can follow her on Twitter at @lindakthrasher

I am always amazed by the number of companies that are on a fast growth trajectory–expanding beyond $1-2 billion and hoping to double or even triple revenue. These organizations often have well-oiled departments, including finance, sales and marketing, or human resources. Yet, often little thought is given to developing a communications team or to providing resources for best-in-class communications. Likely many executives view communications as “nice to have” but not worth the overhead.

While there is not a defined formula or metric for assessing when it’s time to allocate resources for communications, below are a number of factors for organizations to consider as they assess whether the time is right to ramp up resources and develop a thoughtful communications strategy.
 
  • Increased public expectations. In today’s environment, businesses are expected to do more than provide a good or service at a reasonable cost. Businesses are constantly evaluated against a broad set of expectations that make up their “license to operate.” In other words, when the company gets big enough, people actually notice you and will voice their opinions—positive or negative–about what you do.
  • If you don’t proactively shape your reputation, others will. The old saying that the best defense is a good offense applies here. You have a reputation—it’s just a matter of whether you proactively position your organization or whether someone else does. This is especially important given the 24-7 news cycle and the fact that digital and social media empower the public to be viewed credible reporters. The larger the organization, the larger the consequences if your reputation is not properly managed.
  • Corporate issues are more complex and multi-faceted than ever. As an organization grows and expands its reach, communications teams are playing an expanded role in helping executive teams manage issues that cut across functions and stakeholders. The perception of a company’s conduct and how it addresses complex or controversial issues—particularly those being addressed in public—requires individuals that are adept at understanding and communicating with stakeholders. In short, the communications function is charged with seeing the company as others see it.  
  • Employees are your best ambassadors—communicate with them. Internal communications is far different than the days of passing information “top down.” Today it’s about exchanging information up, down and across. If a company has an ambitious growth strategy, employees will be integral to its success and will need to understand and be engaged with the organization’s mission, strategy and priorities. If internal communications is considered a back seat priority or handled on an ad hoc basis, a company risks maximizing its full potential. There’s a wise adage that says “sell inside first.”
  • Yes, you will have a crisis. I would be hard pressed to name a company that has not experienced some type of crisis. A communications team is integral to not only crisis response, but assisting with preparation and planning. Most crises are predictable so with the right resources or team in place, negative fallout can be minimized. And, if the crisis is managed well, the company’s reputation can even be enhanced.   
No doubt, allocating resources for communications, whether internally or externally, creates additional cost.  But, given the consequences of not having communications resources in place, prioritizing communications is worth the price.
 

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