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FutureGov’s Ben Matthews offers ten tips for building the perfect communications team

11th June 2013

Getting your comms team right is a particularly pertinent issue at the moment, as many organisations and businesses are restructuring their communications teams, aiming to get maximum value from their staff.


Here's ten ideas to make sure you build a winning PR team:


1. Never work with anyone that you wouldn’t invite home for dinner

As well as being capable of doing the job, you want the people who will innovate and inspire you, not just tick boxes.


2. No slackers, no divas


In a fast-changing comms environment, there are many key required comms skills: social, search, content, PR, analytics. There may have to be hard decisions about dismissing people who are not up to the job – especially slackers or divas in your team.


3. Mix up skills and experience


Five ex-corporate PR agency folks will give a single dimension, so diversify your team's skills and experience for a more rounded approach. This means mixing up ages and backgrounds as well. For example, a part-time working parent will have a different perspective on work to a 26-year-old full-time, office-based staff member.


4. Enable areas of specialty to develop


The comms world is changing, which means that your team may be called into to new areas of the business. Skills such as design, writing, photography, videography or light-coding might all be required. And let people really get to grips with the skills they are looking at developing and follow along a pathway they enjoy.


5. Cultivate a team identity


Invest heavily in getting buy-in for what you all do from key internal stakeholders. You can be famous within the company, be helpful and spread your skills across other divisions, such as sales, marketing and the leadership team. The trick here is to show that you are listening and finding out how you can be useful while ensuring that the team is more than a service function.


6. Build business acumen


In my experience a good communications team is strategic. It drives the organisation forward. Too many comms people have a shockingly bad understanding of market forces, accounting and economics let alone their own industry. You can’t advise your CEO on how to position an earnings announcement if your team don’t know your P&L from your elbow.

7. Add value

Always look for people who can add extra value, for example through a strong network or a great social media presence.

8. Trust in your team

In the fast-paced comms world of today, trust is absolutely key. Give your communications team working flexibility and judging them on the work produced not how and where they do it. As is your ability as a leader to empower your team to be accountable for their own projects and areas.

9. Pace yourselves

Understanding that we can’t sprint the whole time and that you need to judge when the team needs to peak for big pieces of work (and communicating that) and when they should re-energise in the lulls.

10. Celebrate success

Make sure you make time for fun and always celebrate success – regular team lunches to mark great work, build up some traditions for other things, such as celebrating birthdays.

Ben Matthews is head of communications at FutureGov 

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