How Important is Communication?

Here Is A List Of Communication Responsibilities Every Company Should Consider.

By Thomas J. Roach

In the last 100 years nothing in business has evolved as much as communication and communication technology. 

During the Great Depression and WWII eras, competition was less challenging, and employees were grateful just to have jobs. Companies needed only basic advertising and newspaper public relations efforts to maintain relationships with customers, while communication to employees was focused myopically on giving orders. Now organizations that want to excel must work to attract and keep customers and to recruit and retain the best workers.

As communication needs progressed, so did new communication strategies and technologies. By the 1970s and 1980s, annual reports and employee publications were receiving greater attention. The federally required report to shareholders was an opportunity to enhance reputations, and the quality movement called for well informed, highly motivated employees. The annual reports were expanded into magazine formats, and employee newspapers were created to mix company information with reward and recognition. 

Today highly successful companies have a communication network that collects feedback from customers, shareholders, employees and the community, and responds with timely, targeted messages coordinated through verbal interaction, print media, and online applications. 

While all organizations are not large enough to have teams of employees managing the full range of 21st century communication objectives, all organizations should at least have communication objectives distributed among the job descriptions of their management teams. 

Here is a list of communication responsibilities every company should consider:

  • Crisis Communication – A plan should be in place that calls for emergency communication to employees and the community.
  • Employee Communication – Feedback from employees needs to be collected and addressed on an ongoing basis. This can be a traditional employee newspaper, workgroup meetings, open door policy, surveys and survey feedback sessions, company picnics, and activities that provide reward and recognition. 
  • Digital Identity – Online presence isn’t just a marketing strategy anymore; it is a requirement for marketplace survival. Company image and accessibility must be kept up to date and organized to maintain a positive reputation and facilitate productive interaction with internal and external publics. 
  • Community Relations – In addition to the traditional annual report and media releases, company leadership must interact with community leaders. An advisory board may be appropriate, but minimally a list of community organizations and projects should be maintained, and participation assigned to members of upper management. Quarries occasionally have conflict with surrounding communities; it is important to interact with the community in non-adversarial situations to buffer and counter the negative reactions that are sometimes inevitable. 
  • Media Relations – Newsworthy stories can be shared with news media periodically to demonstrate a company’s productive role in the community. Also, having contacts and building rapport with members of news organizations is invaluable in a crisis.

These responsibilities may seem to require excessive resources for a small quarry operation, but communication efforts are scalable to the size of the organization. A quarry with two dozen employees doesn’t need focus groups, surveys and an employee newspaper to stay in touch with hourly workers when all levels of management are interacting with front-line workers every day, but it is still beneficial to have at least one manager responsible for monitoring employee communication needs and ensuring that they are addressed. 

A large corporate entity may have a team of workers assigned to internet related tasks, whereas a small quarry may have a manager who updates online information and hires a consultant to monitor and upgrade online processes periodically. 

Ideally, professional, credentialed communicators will have these responsibilities. When that isn’t possible, and the tasks are added to the job descriptions of managers with no formal training or experience in communication, it may be useful to fund their memberships in communication associations like International Association of Business Communicators, (IABC), send them to communication-oriented conferences once a year, and pay for subscriptions to publications on corporate communication. 

Crushing, producing and delivering stone are the physical part of the aggregate industry; the rest is communication. 

Thomas J. Roach Ph.D., has 30 years experience in communication as a journalist, media coordinator, communication director and consultant. He has taught at Purdue University Northwest since 1987, and is the author of “An Interviewing Rhetoric.” He can be reached at [email protected].

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