A marriage that makes good business sense

Are you the marrying type or do you prefer the idea of a bit on the side? Well for us, marrying communications and business is the only option, as our comms director Lisa Wimborne explains, following a recent workshop we ran for the social housing sector

Business is business, and marketing is marketing, and never the twain shall meet.

This, it seems, is the axiom by which many communications professionals are sometimes obliged to operate.
But it’s a saying that – thankfully – is increasingly being challenged by those who realise that communications is not an add-on or a cosmetic function but a crucial part of the business itself.

This debate came to life last month when Matter&Co ran a workshop at the National Housing Federation’s Communications and Marketing Conference about the importance of aligning your communications to your business plan.

Whilst it is clear that communications in social housing has moved on leaps and bounds over the last 10 years, there was a general consensus from those in the room – all either comms professionals or senior managers themselves – that getting the senior leadership team to buy into strategic communications continues to be a struggle.

In today’s times of austerity those working in housing communications need to ensure that every penny they spend counts. So, we believe that it’s time to wave a big goodbye to the ‘SOS’ culture of the past where you just ‘Send Out Stuff’ at the request of different managers and move towards a culture of Good Communication.

By good, we mean ‘strategic’ – a word that one delegate said was frowned upon in his organisation. And granted, we all get frustrated when there’s too much thinking without enough doing. But a communications strategy doesn’t need to be a static document that sits on a shelf collecting dust – it needs to be an action plan that focuses on business priorities and considers how communications can support these priorities.

The challenge of good communications often isn’t in the delivery but in the research and planning. With this not only will you increase your chance of producing effective communications but you will also have the evidence you need to take to your seniors to demonstrate why and how communications can and does add value to the business.

There were some great examples in the session from delegates that have successfully done just this to ensure communications works as an effective and essential part of the business.

It was a lively session which we thoroughly enjoyed facilitating, and I hope one that will give ideas, inspiration – and hope! – to the delegates who attended.