How do we improve communication efficiency

Efficiency traps: seven factors that inspire or hinder effective communication

Do companies use every opportunity in communication? Is the economy fit for the requirements of the modern communication society? Without a doubt, the communication departments have become more confident and efficient in the last 10 or 15 years. But the learning curve has flattened out.

Despite all professionalism, companies keep falling into efficiency traps that damage communication success and reputation.

What is an efficiency trap and how can you avoid it?

Anyone who has worked in the PR business for a long time will find that it is the same factors over and over again are who, regardless of all commitment and all excellence, impair effective communication. That has less to do with professional competence and more to do with the framework conditions and attitudes.

Companies tend to fall into these traps if they are negligent, for example because they consider important prerequisites to have already been met or to be immaterial.

The extent to which communication has to be adapted to the changed requirements is also not recognized. Growing complexity, high competitive pressure and, above all, an increasingly critical public have changed the PR business. In order to be well prepared, it is worth thinking about seven efficiency traps thinking and becoming aware of their importance for the sustainable impact of corporate communication. This is what the this post.

Efficiency trap no.1:
You have to have committed and effective communication want - Without a clear commitment and adequate support from top management, the PR machine is running at half speed

“Management is communication”, Peter Drucker preached to generations of managers. Nevertheless, communication does not have the expected top priority everywhere. Communication takes time and effort, even for top management themselves, and requires their full support. Those who shy away from effort and expense, want to save time and money, are doing themselves no favors; a successful performance cannot then be achieved. Rather, the basis for a strong communication culture is the clear signal from management that effective external and internal communication is important to them. Top managers are obliged to set the course for an efficient, professional communication presence by ensuring acceptance and freedom of design for the responsible PR manager.

The importance and effect of good communication must not only be linked to visible successes; rather, it is also important to appreciate the complex tasks behind the scenes: from the Identification of the right topics as well as the Opportunities and risks in appearance, about the tailor-made messages with the right one Spin, the Understanding Expectations and communication needs through to the ability to put all of these things in coherent concepts map with well thought-out measures. A credible appearance succeeds if the top management level has a deep understanding and a weakness for good communication and makes this clear.

PR managers and top management need a good feel for the right amount; communication is not allowed to, for example "CEO Show" become. Otherwise, other important areas of PR can easily get under the wheels and the performance becomes unbalanced. Many examples, e.g. that of Deutsche Bank in the era of CEO Ackermann or Arcandor under Middelhof, show how dangerous an extremely CEO-oriented communication is for the efficiency of the overall appearance.

Recommendation: With a view to this efficiency trap, top managers who are as keen on communication as possible should be at the top of the company, who know the connection between efficient PR and sustainable corporate success, who attach great importance to cooperating in partnership with their head of communication (and listen to him) and who have a sensitive feel for have the right signals and decisions.

Efficiency trap no.2:
Successful communication requires planning

PR people are doers. Often is from the Hands-on mentality the speech that you have to bring with you for such jobs. In hectic everyday life it is easy to ignore the fact that sustainable communication successes do not increase proportionally with the action activities, but require solid planning and clear goals. That requires reflection. Much depends on the fact that the initial situation and the expectations of the relevant stakeholders are correctly assessed so that the intended impact can be described and quantified at all. Which actors have which interests and needs? How is the company perceived in general and in certain subject areas? And which strategic options can be derived from this in order to improve perception? Quite often these questions are ticked off prematurely and situations or scenarios are rated incorrectly or incompletely as a result.

The best hands-on mentality is of no use if it is based on incorrect assessments. It is also often misunderstood that this is a Permanent challenge goes. It is not enough to carry out analyzes of the environment and the expectations of target groups only once a year, for example as part of the annual planning. After all, perceptions and opinions about companies are constantly changing due to an abundance of external and internal influences. Communication is only efficient when it is continuously to changing starting positions adjusts.

Good planning in the interests of maximum efficiency is not just a requirement Discipline in Analysis, but also creativity. If communication is not innovative but rather boring and replaceable, it is less efficient. You then have to increase the quantity or the intensity in order to achieve a corresponding effect. We all suffer from the spiral of increasingly louder and unimaginative marketing communication. And yet too little time and energy is often spent on developing new, really innovative approaches (measures, channels, strategies) in order to attract attention to one's own messages. Here too, however, there is a risk that exaggeration will endanger efficiency. Innovative communication must not be “compulsively different”, but must match the overall appearance.

Recommendation: To the pragmatic Analysis of performance In communication management, for assessing potential and deriving innovative conceptual approaches, there is now a simple audit procedure: the Due Diligence in Corporate Communications ” - Can be implemented as a self-test or as an in-depth analysis. Make something of it!

Efficiency trap no.3:
The human factor - nothing influences communication efficiency more than the profile of PR professionals

The danger posed by trap no. 3 only becomes apparent at second glance. Unsuitable minds and insufficient human resources have a long-term negative effect on the efficiency of PR. Some companies are only half as committed to getting exactly the employees and executives in communication, theirs Competence and skill profiles ideal for the task fit. No matter how good employer branding is, if the recruiting processes are not geared to the special requirements that PR professionals have to meet today, there is no need to complain about a lack of efficiency later. I have listed 10 important profile characteristics of a good PR manager here in the diagram:

Ten characteristics of a good PR manager

I especially recommend the last mentioned aspect, the Value orientationnot to be neglected. Hardly anyone today still denies the close connection between credibility or binding values ​​and the efficiency of communication. The interaction has been proven in numerous studies. It is also the common thread in all posts related to Credibility principle.

It is clear today that companies with a strong corporate culture communicate better and more efficiently than others. All the more so in a world that becomes unmanageable due to arbitrariness, overstimulation and complexity. However, credibility and orientation towards binding values ​​cannot be prescribed - employees and managers must bring these profile characteristics with them.

Suggestions for cooperation in the communication team and the optimal use of employee resources can also be found in the article "Cooperation in communication management: How the type of cooperation influences communication success", which I recommend reading here.

Recommendation: Also the HR departments should rethink and take greater account of the extent to which the challenges of the modern communication society have dramatically changed the requirement profiles for PR managers. As part of my interim mandates in change management or in restructuring processes, I myself repeatedly get into discussions about incorrect or unsuitable job profiles that are still on a outdated understanding of communication and consequently do not lead to the development of needs-based competence and skill profiles in communication management.

Efficiency trap no.4:
The more efficient the infrastructure, the more efficient the PR management

Leaves the existing Corporate communication infrastructure to act quickly and efficiently or do cumbersome, hierarchical structures and unclear regulations hinder cooperation? Medium-sized companies usually have no problems with internal organization and cooperation, but often suffer from insufficient resources. Large companies, on the other hand, have fewer resource problems, but often fail to ensure the cooperation of PR actors across many locations according to uniform, binding rules.

From one efficient infrastructure also depends a lot in the communications business today. Response times will keep getting shorter. And companies are dealing with highly professional, internationally networked stakeholder groups (media, NGOs, financial community) who exploit discrepancies and weaknesses in their appearance. The optimal framework conditions in PR include not only adequate human and financial resources and company-wide binding rules, but many other details. For example, good software tools and monitoring systems for issue management so that trends and developments can be detected at an early stage. Anyone who refrains from such investments easily loses communication sovereignty and cannot fulfill the communicative task efficiently or not at all.

Recommendation: The popular principle of "Communication according to the cash position" weakens the performance of the infrastructure and should be avoided!

Efficient PR needs predictable equipment that is not based on business development but on communication needs. If, for example, due to savings, existing tasks are distributed to fewer people or employees are replaced by interns, the quality and efficiency of the website are jeopardized in the long term. And if popular communication offers are given up, this can also damage a painstakingly built brand profile - a trap.

I recommend this article to anyone who would like to take a closer look at this success factor "On the infrastructure of credible PR: seven factors create the framework for efficiency and value orientation" here in the blog.

Efficiency trap no.5:
Effect fizzles out! Only sustainable PR is efficient

sustainability is not only fundamentally a company-relevant topic that no one can escape from, it also has to be Claim in the management of corporate communications a.

Admittedly: Who does not strive for the "quick win" today? Who doesn't rely on rapid communication effects? But just as an engine uses more fuel when starting cold and over short distances, so is the effort for one short-term, effect-seeking communication work higher than with a sustainable strategy.

This can be observed, for example, in financial market communication. The substance suffers from extreme dynamics because the capital markets are constantly expecting new highlights every quarter. Anyone who neglects long-term profile and relationship building in the financial community and does not communicate sustainably, burns their own resources. Profiles and trust can only be built up over the long term. The famous bon mot of Warren Buffett"It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently ” should be understood in this context as a reminder for sustainable communication.

Recommendation: Good communication has to be sustainable. This should be taken into account both when planning and when implementing PR and communication activities.

Efficiency trap no.6:
Competence in crises and change are also efficiency factors

Efficiency trap no. 6 is about the special expertise required to cope with crises and situations of change in a communicative manner. In difficult situations such as corporate crises, change processes or restructuring, different skills are required than for other PR tasks. They have to be developed and trained in-house in order to be able to communicate effectively.

Change situations require, for example, a good one in-process communication:

  • It must promote and support internal opinion-forming and help ensure that the changes are perceived positively internally.
  • It must ensure the involvement of all affected employees and managers - they should understand and perceive their roles, tasks and responsibilities in the change process.
  • It must ensure that executives are able to perform their important communication function as change agents.
  • It must explain contexts and backgrounds in a particularly sensitive manner, convey the meaning and visions of the future organization.
  • It must make progress in the process clear in accordance with a defined dramaturgy and thereby create security and orientation.
  • etc.

Also Crisis situations require such special communicative qualities. One should not only be fit for external crisis communication (especially media work), but also not underestimate the value contribution of internal crisis communication and prepare well for it. No crisis can be mastered without the employees, the most important group of multipliers. They expect transparency, security, orientation and that is exactly what credible internal crisis communication must provide. From various interim and consulting practice, I can say that internal crisis communication is neglected in many companies (just as internal communication in general is still neglected). Whenever employees first learn important information from the newspaper and do not find out about special developments in an early dialogue with top management, fear and mistrust grow. This is not a good breeding ground for efficient communication in the future.

Recommendation: Today, communication and change must be viewed in close interaction in order to ensure an efficient appearance. One should therefore promote and strengthen the change competence of the relevant actors in communication management. If you are looking for further impulses on this aspect of communication efficiency, you will find it in this article: "Sustainability in Change Management: How do you get employees and stakeholders excited about change?". Just take a look and get suggestions!

Efficiency trap no.7:
Efficient PR lets the corporate brand shine

If the communication does not match the core and the values ​​of the corporate brand, this also weakens the uniform and credible appearance. It has to be consistent. For this, the communication managers not only have to work on their own messages and measures, but also ensure the necessary discipline in the company and make all employees and managers responsible. No thoughtless utterance, no inappropriate wording, no behavior that contradicts the spirit of the corporate brand may dilute the brand image. Effective PR management must ensure that all employees and managers have the Internalize the corporate brand philosophy. This is how you avoid discrepancies in branding!

Recommendation: Communication is only efficient if it is consistent and credible - free of contradictions. Mastering this challenge requires a great deal of attention to the diverse relationships and interactions between individual communication measures and brand perception. I recommend reading two articles for a more in-depth discussion of this aspect: on the one hand, the article "Corporate marketing as a core task of credible corporate communication" (currently the most comprehensive treatise on this topic) and, on the other hand, the contribution "When guiding principles make you unbelievable".


Banal or not a matter of course? We take care of a wide range of individual aspects in PR and corporate communication. We are getting better and more professional in many areas. And yet communication is not always crowned with success. The Recalling the seven basic conditions mentioned An efficient appearance is therefore worthwhile - a credo of good, successful communication:

  1. You have to want committed and effective communication.
  2. Successful communication requires planning.
  3. The human factor influences communication efficiency.
  4. The more efficient the infrastructure, the more efficient the PR management.
  5. Only sustainable PR is efficient.
  6. Competence in crises and change are also important efficiency factors.
  7. Efficient PR lets the corporate brand shine.

Those who take these claims seriously secure the high one Good communication adds value to corporate success!

Now it's your turn: secure the clever strategic alignment and high process efficiency of your corporate communication. I would be happy to support you in setting the necessary course. Call or give me a signal by email!