PRSA Webinar: Communication Department Infrastructure

I attended my first event as a member of the PRSA Buffalo-Niagara Chapter  yesterday. It was a webinar titled “Assessing the Communication Department Infrastructure” held at the AAA administration office of Western New York. There were 12 members in attendance, and after the 60-minute web presentation by Angela Sinickas there was a productive discussion. Below are some of my synthesized takeaways. 

  1. When evaluating staff communications roles and activities, a variety of methods are helpful, including: external benchmarking with comparative companies or organizations (similar missions, goals, revenues); surveys and interviews with executives and staff; taking inventory and developing effective reporting of staff time and resources used for the various communication channels.
  2. When recruiting new employees, a competency rubric is beneficial for assessing the existing skills and “closing the gap” of other skills through on-the-job training, reading, speaking experience, attending seminars and being active in professional development associations.
  3. In assessing communication staff at various levels of experience, it can be a challenge to complete the grid of “available expertise” and “required expertise” for each position when evaluating the different roles and skills of department personnel.
  4. In large companies, it is essential to develop a responsibility matrix of communication channels and their impact sorted by their reach / interest to core stakeholders.
  5. Measuring the impact, size and scope of the communication department can also be quantified through a FTE vs. $1 million of revenue ratio.
  6. Other measurement variables that need to be addressed range from relative numbers vs. absolute (revenue, budget allocations, staff time); assessing the communication department’s budget vs. the number of employees in the organization relative to dollars; allocating functions by business units or locations; weighing staff capabilities against the need for agency support where applicable.
  7. Surveys of executives and communication departments in large organizations often reveal a schism in satisfaction levels of the needs fulfilled by communication employees’ roles and responsibilities.

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