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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Measuring the impact, size and scope of the communication department can also be quantified through a FTE vs. $1 million of revenue ratio.
- 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.
- 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.