We love building silos. Silos define the boundaries of our department so that no one outside of it can touch it. We make sure that everyone working in our team does not communicate directly with someone from another team, because you – as the team leader – want to ensure what information gets through and what doesn’t.
One of the greatest problems that I face in my career is silos. Believe me, I am not here to break down the way how organisations are organised. I think there is value in clear work division, just like there is value in hierarchy to ensure tasks get done and responsibilities are borne by the right people.
Marketing, Public Relations and Public Affairs are ALL Communications
The issue I have with silos, is the way they tend to make people blind to similarities and common goals that can only be advantageous to everyone.
Take for example, marketing. A marketeer tells me he is in charge of selling the organisation’s products or services to the people who he thinks will buy them. By throwing in jargons like direct marketing, agency management, or something more digital like affiliate marketing or retargeting, he as a marketeer has a completely different job from his organisation’s public relations person.
The public relations manager comes to me, tells me she is the press relations person and how she is the one responsible for the reputation and stakeholder relations of the company. She is the content provider, and only she is able to create great stories about the company and get them shared and known.
Then the public affairs person comes to me and says his job is completely another thing altogether because he only deals with policymakers and government officials because his job is to convince politicians and government agencies which is the best environment for the business to thrive in.
I get it. All of you think your role is important and fundamentally different from one another.
However, that is the wrong perception. It is like all of you are staring at the same piece of cake, but from different angles. What you do, is all communications. Who you speak to, who you are trying to convince, how you are engaging with them, what information you are exchanging may differ. But that does not exclude you from learning from one another, because ultimately, human communications work in the same way.
I have helped a public affairs person reach out to his stakeholders through affiliate marketing online. The public relations manager can definitely work together with the marketing colleague on creating the organisation’s story. For a marketeer to sell effectively, he has to sell an idea – not the service or the commodity itself – and he will not have a good idea to sell, if the way the idea is unfolded through human emotions and aspirations which he can learn from the public relations manager.
Titles are created by decades of ignorance about communications, and by bosses who have no idea about creating a synergy and commonalities between departments and roles. It’s time we see communications as what it is, share strategies and platforms among ourselves and to learn from one another.
Eureka Moments are not so much moments of sudden realisation or enlightenment like Archimedes. They are moments while I am in my commute when I get to reflect on things that someone mentioned to me, things that I am confronted with, things that I or others have sought a solution for. They are more ‘oh I get it’ rather than ‘I have discovered it’.