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Relationships: The secret ingredient to great communications

Communication is among the top five skills employers look for, and comms teams need to put that skill to use to build strong, lasting working relationships with colleagues, stakeholders, and leaders.

  • Why it matters: The stronger relationships with key stakeholders are, the better positioned comms team members will be to curate, request, and create communications that deliver the most value and reach the widest audience.

"The biggest piece of advice is that you must cultivate relationships internally to be successful," Blair Aires, who has held communication roles at The Kraft Heinz Company, Chobani, Edelman, and Centric Brands, said at a recent Axios HQ event on internal communications distribution.

It’s only when you have those relationships in place that you can call upon colleagues to create the internal communications employees need to stay aligned and informed.

Blair’s playbook for building relationships:

  • Start with leadership. "You have to get leadership bought in on the value of internal communications and what your strategy is. You need your leaders to deliver your messaging, to get their employees engaged because their employees are listening to them more so.”
  • Add in managers. Once you get leadership on board, you can turn your attention to how managers can cascade central messages through the organization so each stakeholder gets the information relevant to their jobs. 
  • Take the show on the road. Blair goes on a road trip when she starts at a company to meet key players face to face. She sits them down and lays out what she needs from them for comms to thrive at the organization. 

The bottom line: It will take time to cultivate relationships built around trust, so start early. Meet with leaders and executives, explaining the importance of comms at each stop. Once you get them bought in, you can start to build a strategy together that will ensure all employees get the information they need to do their jobs well.

Go deeper: Managers are key for communication success. 

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