What You Learn from Analyzing Communication Departments

🤨 Do you know all the information you can get if you analyse a communication department? You can see what is the focus of the entire organization, if they play a role in deciding the strategy or even if the direction considers it as a key department.

💭 The idea of this article comes after a conversation with Elena Guarneri when we met in Brussels few weeks ago. At some point we needed to have lunch, so we used it as an excuse to have the opportunity to talk more relaxed. Among other things, we shared our previous professional experiences and some thoughts about communication. On the flight back home, I found myself inspired by that conversation so I spent that time to start writing my point of view from what we just talked. And those ideas I wrote quickly on the phone at 35.000 feet became this post. Let’s break it down:

▶ Who is in there?
To clearly see if direction consider the communication department important, it all starts with a simple question: Is it actually a department, or just one person doing it all?

For small companies, having a person dedicated full-time on communication, it is probably enough and already shows that they consider it important. Allocate some budget to outsource some tasks and it’s all good.

But if a medium or big company relies on a single person, it is a sign that they don't really value what communication could do for the organization. For example: employer branding, events, social media, website and intranet managing, internal training, graphic material, video creation, etc. Because with only one person, you can’t do all of that. No one can’t be an expert in everything. Even if they outsource some of those things, the poor communication specialist, who is handling that outsourcing too, can’t deal with all.

▶ Who are you?
Looking at the communication professionals in the department can provide more insights. Do they have a video creator professional on board because it's a crucial aspect for the company’s communication style? Or do they mainly have journalists and copywriters because one of the strengths is to maintain excellent relationships with journalists and it’s key to generating content for the newspapers, corporative website and social media channels?

Sure, a company can consider video creation important and decide to outsource that task. But by having a person in-house is a step further. You don't just consider it important, you consider it essential. You want to have that specialist in your team, next to you, easily accessible. This ensures a better understanding of each project. The person is more connected to the business itself, so they can get a better overview of the needs and importance of every single aspect.

▶ Who do you talk with?
I am not just referring to who the communication department or specialist directly reports to but also to which departments they have more interaction with. In addition, having a strong communication department also involves building trust and having good relationships with all departments. Yes, all.

So, apart from having this good reputation that I take for granted, by examining who they have more connections/interactions with, you can analyse the organization's strategy.

For example, if the single communication specialist reports to HR/People, that means that the organization will tend to focus more on internal communication, employer branding, workplace culture, internal events, employees onboarding, etc. rather than performing marketing campaigns to promote products or services.

If it’s a full communication department, with specialized people in different roles and reporting to the CEO, it means that they will have a big impact and important role on both the communication and organizational strategy.

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