Why Your Organization Should Invest In a Communications Director
By: Holly Tate
Change in online church communications due to COVID-19 has left many churches wondering if they should hire someone to fulfill a communication role within their church. Sarah Robins and I sat down to answer all your questions about the Communication Director role within churches, schools, nonprofits, and other faith-based organizations. I gave insight into the benefits of having a communication role on your staff and what to look for in filling that role.
While we’re using the title Communications Director in this article, the title might be different for your organization. It might be Communications Pastor, Coordinator, Manager, or Assistant. The title isn’t as important as focusing on the strategic scope of responsibility.
Why Have a Communication Director?
Communication strategy is key to any successful organization - communicating effectively is essential to the growth and health of your organization. A Communication Director should be focused on infusing the vision of the organization into everything you do, rather than just creating graphics or running a social media account.
While the communication and marketing assets like graphics, social media, email marketing, etc should be within the Communication Director’s oversight, don’t hire a Communications Director to just make marketing collateral. It should be a strategic growth hire for the organization to put feet to the vision of the organization.
What Exactly Does a Communication Director Do?
A Communication Director establishes a strategy and communication plan for the organization. Their role is to ensure that in every facet of the organization, the overall vision of the organization is being communicated. Everything an organization says or does is communication, so it is important that everything within the organization communicates and aligns with the vision of the organization. This role can be summed up by four key job descriptions:
Create an effective communication strategy for both internal and external communication.
Create and define the desired “customer experience.” Customer could mean visitor, congregant, parent, student, donor, or something else for your organization.
Infuse the vision of the organization into everything the organization does from online (social media, email marketing, videos, podcast, website, etc) to offline (signage, guest experience, bulletins, etc).
Bridge the gap between what is being heard and what is being done. A strategic communicator is connecting the why to the what.
How Do you Know If You Need To Create a Communication Role Within Your Organization Or Hire a Contractor?
Consider the size of the organization - Smaller organizations with limited budgets may suffice by having a contractor in charge of their communication. Whereas, larger organizations should consider creating a role to help ensure that their communication is consistently aligning with the vision of the organization throughout email communications, social media, website content, and every other way you connect to your audience. Ultimately, whether the communication role is filled by a full-time leadership position or a contractor, it is essential that whoever is fulfilling the communication role has direct access to top leadership.
Look at the org chart - Some of the positions currently on your staff may be no longer necessary, due to technological changes. By taking the time to examine your org chart, you can more easily identify the positions that might not be critical anymore as well as the gaps in your current team. This allows your organization to make space for a communication role.
Analyze how communication is currently being done - Many organizations know why they communicate and what to communicate but miss the mark when it comes to how to communicate. If your organization is missing the mark when it comes to consistent communication across all areas, it is time to start thinking about hiring someone to fill a communication role in your organization.
What Makes Someone Good For The Role Of The Communication Director?
An ability to communicate cross-generationally - Your organization likely has constituents from a range of generations, so it’s essential that everyone is being communicated to effectively. Knowing how to communicate with different demographics and generations is the key to being a strong communicator. Look for someone skilled in multi-channel marketing to ensure that all people are being communicated with in ways that most connect with them. When looking for someone to fulfill a communication role, consider how they communicate with everyone in the organization and your audience rather than one niche group.
Innate strengths of communication and strategy - Anyone can learn how to post on social media, but an innate ability to communicate and strategize cannot be taught as easily. Every organization should have someone in leadership with both an innate ability to communicate and strategize, whether or not they are in the communication role. These are skills that the organization needs to harness to communicate effectively. If your organization is lacking in this area, consider finding a Communication Director who can fulfill this role in leadership.
What Are The Common Mistakes Organizations Make When Hiring A Communication Director ?
Making assumptions about age - Organizations often assume that just because someone is young they are skilled in all media channels or that a young hire won’t be able to communicate effectively with older constituents in the organization. Your organization should be looking for someone who can communicate cross-generationally, whether that hire is 25, 35, 45, or 55. Ultimately, your organization is looking for someone who can communicate effectively and strategically.
Senior leaders thinking communication strategy must go through them - Just because someone is in a leadership role, does not mean that they’re skilled in communication. If your senior leaders are not innately skilled at communication, it’s okay for them to step back and let someone else play that role. A communication strategy should be one of the top goals of your organization, so make sure the person doing the job is skilled at it.
Assuming your Communication Director should be skilled in every channel of communication - Focus on hiring someone who can build and manage strategy and people and outsource around their weaknesses. Your Communication Director may be skilled at design but unable to edit a video. That’s okay. Let your Communication Director use their strengths to lead and build strategy. Don't try to ensure that every channel of communication is being utilized when it risks some channels being used poorly.
Communication plays a role in every area of your organization. Whether communication is taking place online or in-person, your organization must communicate effectively. While not every organization will need a full-time Communication Director, it is worth considering, especially in this time post-COVID-19. If you want to know more about what a Communication Director role would look like in your church or organization, contact us, and we would be happy to answer any questions you may have.