Forbes Communications Council members share skills comms pros need to support leaders in a post-pandemic world.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS.
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C-suite leaders lean on communications teams every day to ensure that their companies’ messaging is coherent, cohesive and compelling—especially now, with a pandemic underway that has often led to demands for more customer and stakeholder outreach.
Communications professionals crafting or massaging communications coming directly from the CEO or another high-level executive must not only be well-versed in the voices of both the brand and the individual but also understand the best ways to support the company’s business goals so that they can provide insight and strategic advice when needed.
Tailoring communications that serve the objectives of a business and match the tone of the person delivering the message while simultaneously delivering value to the audience is no small task. Below, 16 members of Forbes Communications Council each share a skill that comms pros today need to cultivate to best support leaders in a post-pandemic world.
1. Understanding Of The Landscape
It’s the communicator’s responsibility to understand the landscape—both among employees and in the external world—and to translate that back to the leadership team. We need to look around corners. If we’re doing our jobs well, no CEO should be making decisions about the post-pandemic workforce in a vacuum. – Bradley Akubuiro, Bully Pulpit Interactive
2. Engaging And Consistent Internal Messaging
Just as the digital revolution has been a catalyst for omnichannel communication with customers, the same should be true for internal communication. Leaders are internal customers; they are busy and have different preferred communication channels and a varied spectrum of needs. A single email is not going to give them the support they need. Engaging, consistent messaging is required. – Kelly Grover, Acoustic
3. Ensuring Alignment With The Leader’s Strategy And Message
The primary skill communications professionals need is to make sure they are aligned with the strategy and message of the leaders they support. The most dangerous aspect of communicating with the public is potentially saying something that generates anger or confusion or fails to highlight a specific message that’s important to a senior leader. This is why I recommend that all communications be shared with leaders first to avoid miscommunication. – Brittain Ladd, BrittainLadd.com
4. Being Compassionate And Aware Of Audience Needs
In this post-pandemic world, communications professionals need to be authentically compassionate and keenly aware of their audiences’ needs in order to best serve leaders. Truly understanding the mindset of the target audience—along with how the business can support their needs—is vital to maintaining a strong brand relationship in emotionally draining times. – Kimberly Osborne, UNC Greensboro
5. Maintaining An Outside-In Perspective
The ability to maintain an outside-in perspective of the organization is essential. A communications professional best serves their organization and its leadership by being its eyes and ears in the outside world, its decision-making conscience and its arbiter of common sense. – Mike Maney, Linode
6. Listening And Learning To Adjust
Being dynamic and having the ability to listen and adjust on the go have become critical skills in the last two years. We learned that remote work is great (finally), and that if we open our minds and listen to our teams more, we can push people into positions of leadership. Creating individual leaders inside the team as a whole is the goal. – Kobi Ben-Meir, Fintegra
7. Being A Proactive Problem Solver
Solving problems has always been a key skill for any communications pro, but it is even more necessary in today’s world. Every company is facing unexpected challenges and will continue to face them in the foreseeable future. Successful marketing pros will be focused on delivering solutions and helping the company move forward amidst a potentially disruptive environment. – Tom Wozniak, OPTIZMO Technologies, LLC
8. Synthesizing And Focusing On A Key Message
A top skill, no matter the time, place or space, is the ability to synthesize and focus on a key message. Our audiences have a lot going on these days, and they need us to be clear, crisp and precise with whatever we are trying to share with them. Avoid adding “one more thing” to the message and stick to the point. – Camille Weleschuk, ATB Financial
9. Helping To Reenergize Leaders And Teams
Leaders feed off energy, and that has been sucked out of the room with the prolonged pandemic. Communications professionals are in a position to help reenergize leaders and teams. Whether it is highlighting an end user’s story to demonstrate the value you are providing to the market or providing clarity around return to work plans, words can motivate and help fill the void that many are feeling. – Erica Morgenstern, Welltok
10. Staying Agile And On Top Of Market Trends
The onset of the Covid-19 global pandemic caused the digital marketing and advertising communities to search for new and innovative ways to meet customer needs, many times with only limited budgets. Therefore, it‘s imperative for communications professionals to stay on top of market trends and communicate them to leaders in the organization. – Anna Luo, Jivox
11. Becoming The Voice Of Your Consumer
With change happening at the speed of light, marketing should be the consumer’s advocate and transmit insights and trends to support the leadership team. Displaying confidence in your brand, your people and partners is also important to gain trust with fellow executives and drive necessary transformation as society recovers from Covid-19. – Rafael Schwarz, TERRITORY Influence (a Bertelsmann group company)
12. Knowing Audience Concerns And Networking
Communication professionals need to know their audience and what their current topics, concerns and trigger points are. They should be skilled at informal networking, as this builds relationships and trust with key stakeholders and subject matter experts, allowing them to create powerful messages that resonate with and engage their audience. – Frank Wolf, Staffbase
13. Conveying Empathy Through Messaging
In these challenging times, it’s essential for communication professionals to help leaders be relatable and convey humanity and understanding in their messages. Messages that convey empathy promote more powerful connections with others and acknowledge the shared realities of a post-pandemic world. – Kate Warrington, Academic Partnerships
14. Being Straightforward
More than ever before, a leader needs to communicate with purpose. You can’t make everybody happy with every communication, so it is imperative to craft a leader’s message around what they truly believe to be true and best for the business. It is tempting but deadly to participate in the political discussion. Just be true to the brand. – Andrea d’Agostini, American Power & Gas
15. Bringing Fresh Ideas To The Table
The pandemic has changed the way communicators have to support leadership moving forward. It’s extremely important to value storytelling, be bold, maintain relationships with your team, prioritize authenticity, and most of all, bring new, fresh ideas to the table. This can be done through low-lift videos, social media and other forms of creative content to amplify your messaging. – Lynn Kier, Diebold Nixdorf
16. Presenting Open And Transparent Dialogue
An organization’s culture stems from its leadership, and comms professionals need to be able to present open and transparent dialogue so leaders can learn from that. Not all will. But post-pandemic and, quite frankly, in light of racial reckoning, it is more imperative than ever for leaders to listen more and create space for open and sometimes difficult conversations. – Nina Mehta, VIACOM