The essence of what Drucker often shared about comes down to two critical points: differentiation against the industry, competitors and partners and communicating the differences through the channels available to the organisation.

The various functions and priorities of many organisations – management, strategy, finance, product/engineering, and sales – exist to create and innovate differentiation of the product or service from other external organisations or competitors.

Without this differentiation, customers and partners find themselves making decisions without context, and tend towards basic comparisons such as price, people or convenience.

Additionally, being ‘better’ against the competition is not strategic.

Being better involves more efficient or productive operations and delivery. However, once these areas are optimised and competition catches up, decision-makers will revert to basic comparisons again.

Being better is not strategic, being different is.

To dominate an area or a specific field and out-perform competition, organisations have to commit towards doing things differently.

The role of the communications/PR function/team in the organisation

strtgcommsgrp - role of communications / PR function / team in the organisation

The communications function is often viewed as support. It can get restricted to being a gatekeeper and/or a broadcast tool with no influence on shaping and guiding the customer journey.

Organisations dilute their efforts when sales/project teams go to market, keeping a singular focus on sales without the benefit of a communications lens.

Siloes continue to dominate as management pits and measures project teams independently, instead of tapping on the wider organisation for resources.

Instead, when organisations empower their communications function, they will find that all functions meet and intersect at communications.

As a core function, communications can help these functions achieve their objectives and support the business.

Strategic communications teams can bridge and connect different teams within the organisation, and at the same time, ensure that the organisation is doing outreach and engagement with a unified voice.

Customers find the narrative less confusing and can actively understand the points of differentiation and what the value is for them to work with the organisation.

Apart from being a key tool in shaping customer perception, communications can be a defensive play as well.

Having a well-formed strategic communications plan can serve as risk management and insurance for the organisation. The plan actively identifies risks and mitigation tactics when pursuing specific business directions and projects.

This will help organisations avoid potential crisis scenarios with the benefit of a playbook for managing the scenario if it happens.

What is co-ownership and how is/can the communications function get involved, or better yet, lead?

Co-ownership is a working model where teams and stakeholders share ownership of business goals. This can be through a project or a campaign, or longer-term of a programme or policy.

In this model, there is a shared sense of responsibility and investment in the success of the project or campaign, when viewed through the perspective of successfully achieving the business goal.

Co-ownership promotes collaboration, shared risk, and increased creativity among teams and functions, which can lead to more engagement and productivity.

The communications/PR function can play a key role in promoting this model of co-ownership and communicating its benefits to stakeholders.

As the connectors of the organisation, the communications/PR function is crucial in gathering the efforts of different teams and helping to put together a narrative, a plan and execute.

Communications can provide the strategy, the framework, application, and measurements to make sense of whether the corporate message or product is selling, in a positive manner, and if not, when to exit and live on to fight another day.

strtgcommsgrp - co-ownership model

Sidebar: What are the benefits of co-ownership within and between teams?

Co-ownership matters in driving business goals because it promotes a sense of shared responsibility and investment among teams, which can lead to increased motivation, collaboration, and innovation.

When teams and functions recognise they have a stake in the success of the organisation, they are more likely to take ownership of their work and contribute positively to the company’s goals.

Here’s a list of benefits:

Overall, co-ownership within and between teams can promote collaboration, shared risk, increased motivation, improved accountability, and enhanced communication. These benefits can help teams achieve their goals more effectively, with more efficacy and create a positive and productive work environment.

Connecting communications/PR objectives with business goals

As a refresher, it’s important to remember the differences between objectives, goals and outcomes:

To connect communications objectives with business goals, consider the following steps.

Involve management and/or the business teams in figuring out or stating clearly the business goals, value to the customer, and areas that the brand dominates or differentiates in:

Align, create and map business goals to strategic communications objectives

Set measurements and outcomes early in the plan, framework or approach and reverse engineer the pathway

Show creativity in coming up with measurements and outcomes

From a business perspective, securing co-ownership between stakeholders and functions within an organisation can serve as a critical component driving differentiation; this can drive better outcomes.

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