Today is a bonus: it’s Leap Day. We think it’s the perfect opportunity to focus on something that can make a drastic change in business results: collaboration.
It may sound simple or trite, but think about it: how many times have you experienced people working in silos, building walls, and essentially preventing one another—and the company—from achieving a higher level of success?
Whether an organization of two or 2,000, its individuals, agencies or groups—at all levels—must work together for the good of the whole. This is particularly true across marketing/PR, customer service, product development, sales, and even executive management.
We see it every day: customer service is dealing with a problem and by the time it reaches the PR team, the issue is spinning out of control. With more proactive communication and collaboration, PR could help get in front of a potential issue to protect the brand, while customer service continues to resolve the matter. I know what you’re thinking: “DUH.” Right. Then why does this happen so often?
Fortunately, in today’s era of new media, communication and collaboration is made easier for those who are committed to it. Facebook and Twitter are now used regularly to foster communication and strengthen relations with various audiences. PR works to engage followers and spread updates and news, while customer service manages inquiries and issues. That’s a great example of collaboration. But not nearly enough.
Imagine PR, marketing and customer service having direct, ongoing conversation about customer feedback on the most—or least—popular features of a product or service. For PR, this opens up opportunity to hit the “sweet spot” and hone in on what is drawing customers to their company, brand, product, or service. Or on the contrary, identifying potential issues can engage development teams to fix them. Is the issue the messaging? That can be easily remedied once identified.
As a customer, who doesn’t want to be heard? And as a company, who doesn’t want to have an easy-to-use product or service? The cycle of communication, collaboration, and change drives both.
It’s a circle. If we collaborated more often, we’d not only have less confusion but also create more fans and evangelists. Reaching more influencers seems to be the current, favored measurement yet I wonder how many are solely working in their siloes to drive this.
What’s better: leaving it to PR to constantly ping the same influencer or and over, or multiple channels delivering a message to the target consumer? One is saturation, the other is effective brand building.
Now let’s bring in sales, perceived to be the driving force behind every company. Do any of you wonder where the term “sales and marketing” went?
While it makes sense geographically to have sales-only offices across the world, often times the feedback sales receives in the field never makes it back to marketing or customer service—with the exception of 1:1 conversations or quarterly meetings.
Typically, shortly after a product launch, the development and marketing teams have moved on to the next generation. Think of the opportunity for improvement (and revenue!) if a week or month after a product is launched, the marketing and PR teams solicited feedback from sales by asking: “What is most appealing about the product? What are you having the hardest time explaining to potential customers about the product? What do we need to help you convey?” It’s an ongoing cycle that not only makes us more knowledgeable, but also more efficient. Plus, it makes us more valuable.
As for executive suite, maybe you can’t schedule a meeting with the CEO that easily, but you can still create communications that make it to the top. If there’s an opportunity to present ideas, thoughts, recaps, or takeaways that matter to the company—take it. If there isn’t an open door, knock. The company or client will be better because of it.
We all know that key to PR is communication. In 2012, let’s challenge ourselves to put collaboration on par.