The Business Case for a Communications Partner
- January 31, 2017
- Jill Vitiello
Have you ever noticed that every time you have an important message to communicate to your team, you sit down at the computer ready to begin writing and you get interrupted? The phone rings, a colleague pulls you into a meeting—you know how it is. You might be surprised to learn that’s true of most busy leaders.
At the office, it’s hard to find focused hours to draft the PowerPoint and talking points that you’re scheduled to deliver at the all-hands meeting on Monday. So, you do what you’ve always done—give up Saturday afternoon to bang it out and spend all day Sunday tweaking it. And, after you’ve presented your message to the team, you realize it could’ve been better if only you’d had more time.
There’s a better way.
Take a page out of the CEO’s playbook and partner with a professional business communicator.
Your CEO most likely has a speechwriter on staff whose full-time job is to write speeches, PowerPoint decks, bylined articles, the annual report letter, and company-wide messages. There’s a lot of content to produce to meet the needs of investors, the media, the board of directors, employees, and others.
As the head of a business unit, you probably don’t spend as much time as the CEO addressing various audiences. As a leader, however, you’re responsible for communicating clearly and consistently to your stakeholders – your team, colleagues, customers, suppliers, and your industry peers. The messages you share are just as important to your constituents as the CEO’s messages are to hers. While you probably don’t need your own full-time speechwriter and PowerPoint guru, wouldn’t it be great to have one when you needed it?
Consider working with a business communications partner.
Your business communications partner is another member of your professional success team. You rely on your accountant to help you manage your finances and pay your taxes correctly. You seek the advice of your financial planner to make wise investment decisions. Your attorney ensures that your estate is in order and that you’re compliant with the law. In the same way you depend on these specialists to deliver business outcomes that you don’t have the time or expertise to produce, you can depend on your business communications partner to deliver professional messaging and content that helps you meet your key performance objectives.
“A typical speechwriter devotes at least a week and maybe two on a 20-minute speech, depending on the occasion. If a professional researcher and writer spends that much time, how much more time would an executive who is a strong writer spend—in between his or her busy day job—to create the same product?” (quote from David Murray, Editor in Chief of Vital Speeches of the Day & Founder of the Professional Speechwriters Association)
Here’s the information you’ll need to make your best case for working with a business communications partner:
What does a professional business communicator do?
A professional business communicator is like your own personal ghostwriter on steroids. Being an excellent writer is the basic requirement. Your best communications partner already has business acumen, knows your industry, and is aware of trends in your marketplace. Your communications partner operates using a defined methodology to become an expert on you. He or she will research your company and your role, learn about your specific business challenges, and seek to understand the outcomes you want to attain through your communication activities. He or she will offer creative ideas and fresh thinking, as well as strategic advice about business communications best practices. In addition, he or she will analyze audiences, audit communication channels, and make recommendations for the venues where your message will resonate. And, he or she will be capable of producing an array of business content, including PowerPoint presentations, speeches, talking points, articles, video scripts, Q&As, blogs, press releases, white papers, marketing materials, books, and social media campaigns. Most importantly, your communications partner knows how to customize every one of your messages to your own personal style.
How much time does it take?
The job of your business communications partner is to save you time and make you more effective. Like any professional partnership, you’ll be required to invest some time up front. Plan on a one-hour meeting with your communications partner to get acquainted, discuss your goals, and agree upon immediate deliverables. Your partner will get back to you with a statement that defines the scope of your work, outlines all of the deliverables, and defines deadlines for content production, which must include the time you need to review and approve drafts. Your communications partner is deadline-driven and focused on delivering content that not only meets your needs, but also makes you shine. By outsourcing the research, writing, and production to your communications partner, you will save countless hours and have more time to manage your daily work, focus on your business goals, and enjoy your weekends.
What does it cost?
Engaging a communications partner on a defined scope of work costs less than hiring a full-time employee. Like your accountant, financial advisor, and attorney, your communications partner will charge you a fee for services. As with all professional services, cost is commensurate with levels of expertise, and price ranges swing from high-priced global public relations agencies to hourly-paid solo practitioners. As a cost-conscious business leader, you’ll want to look for a communications partner who offers a track record of reliability, quality, and experience at a reasonable price. Together, you’ll discuss your budget and the services you need, and establish a cost that makes sense for you. Look for a communications partner who has had experience working with procurement professionals in companies like yours and whose familiar with the business documentation required before beginning your partnership.
What results can I expect?
When you engage a communications partner, you can expect to receive professional-quality content on time and on budget. To get to the final deliverable, you can expect a first draft that captures the essence of your message and your personal tone and style. In any creative process, the first draft is rarely perfect. Your communications partner will build in the time and steps necessary to get your feedback and changes, and he or she will provide a revised version for your review and approval. You’ll want to limit the number of iterations to keep the process moving swiftly toward completion. When you stand and deliver your PowerPoint presentation at the next all-hands meeting, you’ll have the confidence of knowing that you’re working with content that is strategic, thorough, and top-notch. And don’t be surprised when they applaud you!
Where do I find a qualified business communications partner?
Your most trusted source for a qualified business communications partner is a recommendation from a colleague or competitor whose content and messaging you admire. You may have been wondering, how does John find time to post those fun, informative videos to the company intranet? Or, what is Sanjit doing to churn out those LinkedIn blog posts that everyone in your industry is reading and sharing? And, why was Alisha’s speech at the annual conference so polished? You might be surprised to learn that they’ve found a secret weapon to their success. They’ve engaged a communications partner to help them plan, build, and deliver consistently great content that supports their business goals and engages their teams in achieving high performance.
It’s your call.
Now that you know the business case for a communications partner, the rest is up to you. As you think about the messages you need to deliver and the content you need to create throughout the year, you have a choice. You can forward your calls, skip meetings, and ignore two days of emails and still wind up cranking out that speech on a sunny weekend. Or, you can add a qualified communications partner to your arsenal of key professionals and get back to business.
I’m Jill Vitiello. For 26 years, leaders like you have trusted me and my powerhouse team of experienced communicators to provide customized, professional content that meets your business needs. I invite you to call or email me today to find out if we’re the right communications partner for you. There’s no charge for a conversation and no obligation to select us. You have my word that I won’t hound you with calls and you’ll never receive a spam email from us. I look forward to getting acquainted with you.