All corporate communications disciplines have the same overarching goal: to protect the reputation of the organisation. Organisational structure help to keep these disciplines aligned with each other, so consistent messages are being conveyed to all stakeholders and the organisation’s good name remains untarnished. Here are some tips on how to make it happen.
Direct access to senior management
Senior corporate communications employees should have direct access to the organisation’s senior management team, either as members or in an advisory capacity. This allows them to strategically influence communications from the highest levels, and it also demonstrates the priority the organisation puts on protecting its reputation amongst stakeholders.
This is often achieved by placing corporate communications high up the vertical structure of the organisation. This means that the corporate communications department has authority over its sub-departments, which are each tasked with completing part of the overall mission of the organisation.
However, if an organisation is too ‘vertical’ there can be a silo effect where each department concentrates on its own objectives without integrating into the wider organisation as a whole. This means that processes can become inefficient as they are replicated unnecessarily across each team, with no central guidelines or best practices to refer to.
Strengthen horizontal structures
While the vertical structure refers to a chain of command or hierarchy, the horizontal structure is concerned with systems and processes between teams on the same vertical level. Strong relations between these teams can counteract the negative effects of an organisation being ‘too vertical’ , and they also ensure that consistent messages are going out, no matter which team is delivering them. Ways to strengthen horizontal structures include:
- Multidisciplinary teams where employees with different skills and experience come together to work on the same project
- Informal communications such as conversations and emails between staff. These can be encouraged by placing different communications departments physically near each other in the office – many useful conversations come about from chance meetings in the staff room!
- Council meetings where representatives from different disciplines can discuss strategic issues and review past performance