CCOs can get the comms funds they need, if they know where to look

M&A activity and corporate reorgs can provide the money CCOs need for comms functions, says Bob Feldman.

Chief communications officers are under enormous pressure to do a lot more with the same resources they had a year or more ago. In fact, many times they have fewer resources.

But I often see CCOs miss out on significant opportunities they could have to overcome this problem if they used a little ingenuity, assertiveness and, perhaps, luck.

Most companies are pursuing some form of transformation and it’s usually one of two types: a strategic redirection or an active M&A.

In both cases, substantial project management offices are established and this is where CCOs can find the funding needed to transform their own functions.

For example, many companies are in the midst of major 2020 projects, focused on efficiency, strategic focus, and similar objectives.

CCOs can tap into these efforts—and their funding—to restructure their own groups, perhaps doubling down on digital talent, introducing higher-level analytics, redefining service level agreements with company executives, modifying media relations, etc.

Because it’s a restructuring and strategic transformation of the comms function, the cost will be eligible for PMO funding, saving CCOs millions of dollars.

M&A work also often involves years-long integration budgets. And tapping into these funds can provide dramatic opportunities.

A quick example. In a recent merger we advised on, a company used money from the integration budget to; conduct employee global focus groups; execute a brand campaign; hold a first-ever, off-site strategy meeting; and conduct leadership training.

Here are three are other reasons to use funds from M&A activity.

The first-year impact is critical. There are numerous distractions in mergers and a short window for CCOs to get it right. Setting a strategy, ensuring alignment to that strategy, and measuring impact are the guardrails needed to keep the team focused. Getting the funding to do this right is a huge plus.

Attrition is a bigger problem than we think. Post-reorg departures are a huge risk to team performance and to larger enterprise goals. Still, many leaders under-appreciate the effect of attrition in the long tail of the transition. Proper funding, resourcing and attention can address this risk.

Be bold. There is great opportunity during times of risk and it’s a time to think big because the payoff can be high. There is a range of potential here, from performance training to bold technological solutions (employee apps or an intranet), or a large-scale campaign.

Regardless, this is another example of how tapping into integration budgets can help you transform your function for the better for the long-haul.

Bob Feldman is Vice Chair of ICF Next. He can be reached at bob.feldman@icfnext.com.

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