Are you looking to recruit new talent? Or develop the skill-set of your existing team? Whatever the case, creating or keeping a winning team is fundamental if you want to fulfil or even exceed your business objectives.
In the State of Digital PR study (conducted by Mynewsdesk and Berghs School of Communications) almost three-quarters of professionals (73.1%) say 'No' to recruiting new talent to gain the necessary skills for their PR and communication team. Let's face it; most professionals need to take responsibility for growing their team’s skills. But how?
Here are four steps to help you develop staff who are prepared to grow and exceed with you::
1. Create an authentic team
Stop using the term “team” interchangeably with “department,” “division” or another word to categorize your staff. Build a real team – a collaborative environment where the players understand their primary roles but work together for a common goal. Consider expanding your definition of “team” to include staff from other company departments involved in marketing communication.
2. Provide time to learn and train
Give your team members the time and the resources to grow their skills so they can adapt to an ever-changing world. Consider creating or promoting online training programs, where they can work at their pace and when it’s most convenient for them.
Encourage people to participate in off-site conferences and have them share what they learned in an exclusive in-house workshop. Promote internal cross-training by asking your staff to shadow and interview other teams and departments (e.g. marketing, sales, customer service) to learn about their work.
To show you’re committed to their learning, set a specific amount of time they should devote to training. Ask your employees to track their time and activities, and submit those records to you.
Case in point: At Mynewsdesk, all staff in the Marketing department participate in 'Lab Day' - a day during which employees get the chance to learn something of their choosing. These days are structured in the way that employees submit their ideas beforehand, i.e. the thing they would like to learn, spend most of one working day learning that something and then at the end of the day present (5-10 mins) to the team what they learned. Lab Day is a great way of helping employees update their skills and creates an environment and culture that supports continuous learning.
3. Cultivate a results-oriented environment
Given the importance of measurement to both the PR team and the organisation, you need to ensure all team members understand the effects of their work. For example, if a writer crafts a release, how do they know if any media responded to it? Let your team members understand how your company defines success. Share with them on a regular basis an easy-to-understand report, with the analytics and measurable results of the team’s work.
4. Talk regularly
Providing opportunities for employees to interact shows you value their input and want them to engage with each other, which is essential to the team’s evolution. Meet with your staff as a group and on an individual basis at regularly scheduled times. Have a particular focus for each meeting (i.e. project status updates, brainstorming sessions, success celebrations). Always seek input and feedback from team members not only during the meetings but also when creating the agendas.
Set up a system for ongoing communication that works best for your team. It could be a group chat program, a digital bulletin board or even a specially designated email group. To encourage the use of this communication tool, use it regularly to share updates, ask questions about new projects, exchange news about your clients’ industries and so on.
Case in point: At Mynewsdesk, the company uses some different platforms to facilitate communications. The company is a big user of Slack, which is a perfect tool for team collaboration. Users can chat with each other, in groups, individually or within specific channels that can be project, department or even topic based. Employees can easily share documents, ideas and interact with each other and the beauty of Slack is that it declutters everybody's email inbox.
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To find out more about the PR revolution that is starting to take off, you need to read this three-part series. You'll get practical advice on developing your PR strategy, using technology tools to make your communications more effective than ever, and staying up to date in the future of PR.