Welcome back to another Ask Me Anything, which is a series where we talk to our friends, our viewers, and our community about all of their pressing needs, questions, wants, and desires.

Let’s take a look at the mailbag to see which questions are burning this week.

Here’s a good one:

Now that the pandemic is waning (thankfully), what has the communications profession gained in the last 15 or so months?

The Benefits of a Communications Professional In the Room

This is my favorite topic because the communications profession has gained quite a bit during this whole mess.

We have finally earned the coveted seat at the table because executives have finally realized that having a communications professional in the room is extraordinarily helpful.

It’s helpful when there’s a global pandemic and everything shuts down and you have about three seconds to figure out a new way of working.

It’s helpful when there is the trifecta of crises happening at the same time—economic, social, and health and when many people were sent home to work while kids also learned from home.

And it’s helpful as organizations begin to look at a post-pandemic world and what to expect of their teams.

The challenge with last year is that, as this was all happening, organizations copied the message that others sent out, and nearly everyone sent the “out of an abundance of caution…” message.

For the organizations that didn’t have communications expertise in the room, it was pretty apparent.

But, because it was happening to all of us, that messaging wasn’t as important as it was when George Floyd was murdered.

Many business leaders failed when they decided to take a stand—and others failed when they decided not to.

The lack of communications expertise was more apparent at that point…and the smart business leaders fixed it quickly.

A Communications Professional Does Two Things

What the smart ones realized is that having a communications professional in the room does two things:

  1. It professionalizes things because, as it turns out, not everybody can communicate; and
  2. It adds a layer of empathy on top of the messaging and the communications.

That second part has been the biggest key learning for many executives in the past 15 months.

Most of the conversations we have right now with clients and prospects revolve around leading with values and what values-based marketing looks like.

They want to keep employee and customer engagement high and they need help figuring out not just what to do, but how to deliver the message when the decision has been made.

You Still Need a Communications Professional

More importantly right now, though, is the messaging about what leadership expects for a return back to the office.

A friend of mine works for a global organization and they received an email earlier this week that said:

Get your kids and pets ready. You need to be back in the office, full-time, after Labor Day.

One would hope we’ll be back to school full-time in September, but I know our school won’t be making the final decision until mid-August. Sort of hard to plan to be back in the office if your childcare plans are up in the air.

Not to mention the nearly half of working Americans who’ve said, “Nope, not going back five days a week. Sorry.”

Regardless of what your organization is going to do—in-person full-time, hybrid, or staying remote—communications expertise is required to deliver the message and smooth the transition.

The way my friend’s company’s leadership handled it (which read as ridiculously passive-aggressive) is a good case study in what not to do.

While we are on the tail end of this pandemic, there are still lots of changes coming, which will create chaos and havoc.

Having a communications professional in the room is going to help with that.

As communicators, we have an unprecedented opportunity in front of us to be able to capitalize on this and really continue to stand up and show our value and our value.

It’s not just that we can help the organization grow, from a revenue standpoint, but that we can keep engagement high and, if messaged well, we can keep nearly half of the employees from quitting.

We can keep engagement high.

We can help build culture.

We can help customers feel like they’re part of the process.

We can lead with values.

And we can continue to build awareness so that it does help sales.

Have a Question For Us?

If you have a question for a future AMA—or for my summer intern— you can drop them below or join us in the (free) Spin Sucks Community.

You can also find us on social media, email us, or stop by with a bottle of wine for porch drinking.

See you next week!

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

View all posts by Gini Dietrich