In the world of Israeli high-tech, typically communication is nestled under the Marketing team and in many cases, seen as a nice-to-have rather than a must-have.
To achieve the biggest brand impact, and drive more organic sales, communications should as a rule of thumb be a standalone team in and of itself, parallel to growth marketing. As a reference, this is how Lemonade does it, and this is how my current company, Faye Travel Insurance does it, too. And guess what? It’s working.
So, what does a VP of Communications do?
It’s simple - we take your brand from zero to everything in a few key ways. If I had to narrow it down, especially if you’re an early-stage startup, here are their top 5 tasks to make sure your brand is on your target audience’s radar:
- Creating the entire company narrative which includes: your unique selling points, why you’re different than competitors, what makes you the best and so on
- Securing media placements, speaking opportunities and awards for your company and company executives. No, this does not mean just writing a release or paying for ads.
- Identifying data points your company can share externally to position you as a thought leader
- Writing and iterating website copy, blog and social strategy, email marketing campaigns, paid ad copy and more
- Working with design to bring all copy to life visually
Wherever your brand and its executives are seen and heard, there’s a comms pro behind it. Remember that.
And how do I measure the impact of comms?
It’s the most dreaded question by a communications professional. In a world where performance marketing rules, and where most marketing initiatives have become trackable, it’s the one question you’re not going to like the answer to, which is: there is no full-proof strategy to fully and accurately measure the success of your comms operation.
You never know how many eyeballs a story really gets. No, a reporter won’t share that with you.
You can’t know if a customer saw you speak at an event, and that’s why they purchased your product. And no one can really measure how well that 4.9/5 Stars on TrustPilot sticker on your homepage, above the fold, impacted whether or not a visitor clicked ‘Buy Now’.
But brand strength and brand share of voice can be measured in other ways. For example, did a competitor get you thrown out of an event? Are reporters coming directly to you for commentary? Are you driving more direct sales each month?
You see, good marketing cannot exist without good communications which should be focused on positioning, rather than always selling.
But seriously, what’s the difference between comms and marketing?
The individual you have in-house leading comms (which if you don’t have, it’s time my friend) should be crafting, reviewing, and approving any external narrative that is published in your company’s name. That’s website copy, social media posts, investor decks, speaking presentations, email marketing copy, executive commentary in the press and yes, your paid ads across Facebook, Instagram TikTok and even your influencer programs. This costs nothing but your hire’s salary - it’s their time, top-notch writing skills, and strategic thinking that is getting you noticed.
Your growth marketing team should be executing a strategy around paid campaigns and partnerships, activating PPC campaigns, Google search campaigns, referral programs, paid partnerships, affiliate programs, and more. This team, in charge of driving user acquisition (many times alongside a sales or biz dev team), will eat up way more budget than your communications team as all of these initiatives cost a lot. These initiatives should be aided by on-brand copy provided by your communications team.
I want to hire someone to lead comms. What should I look for?
A great comms pro should be an excellent writer, be on top of the latest trends, think 10 steps ahead in terms of what’s coming (holidays, elections, etc) and be able to speak on behalf of your company. This person is there to make your company famous and is your team’s biggest cheerleader, one of your spokespeople, and your ultimate representative. They're your mascot and 2 AM call when the you-know-what hits the fan – whether it be a customer crisis, product bug, or layoffs.
Written by Lauren Gumport, Vice President of Communications & Brand Faye