Originally Published PR Week, January 28, 2011 (subscription access only)
Research among CEOs and line-of-business executives reveals that the single-most common criticism of communications professionals is that below the CCO level the function is primarily occupied by tacticians.
A common result: when divisional or business unit leadership meet to discuss strategy, the PR person -- perhaps other than the CCO -- is often left out.
Are most PR pros really not capable of engaging at that level?
Unlikely, but here are a few thoughts.
First, every CCO needs to be honest with his or her evaluation of talent. The most critical time is when hiring is done. If we're candid, we often do hire tacticians. After all, we need to get things done.
We also tend to hire from a common pool, that is, people from within our profession.
The consequence often means a talent pool that doesn't have the same academic qualifications and /or serious business experience as other staff functions.
Bottom line: Hire smart. Raise the bar. And, as the business we're in gets increasingly sophisticated, there are plenty of high-ranking B-school grads, for example, who would welcome a career in our profession.
Second, and this is a tricky one, it just may be difficult to be both a tactician and a strategist at the same time.
Let's be clear: We need to do a lot more than provide counsel. We need to get stuff done. The greater the demands and the higher volume of output, the more communications staffers get buried in the day-to-day. That may be reality.
But getting stuff done is a given. Flawless execution is a table-stake. No one earns a reputation for just doing what's expected of them.