As PR and content professionals, we’re no longer just writing releases and making calls, we’re producing videos, directing photoshoots, filming vines, writing literature, overseeing design work, and some of us need to breakdance. Okay one of us.
Public relations is one of the fastest moving industries, and that’s mainly due to how much digital has changed the way audiences perceive brands. Likewise, content marketing has been the advertising industry’s hot new potato for the past few years and we have to learn a new skill every quarter.
In order for agencies to keep up with the demands of our clients, we need to be agile and perform roles outside of our departmental silos. At Mutant we have a small team, but we are also flexible ninjas at adapting to new roles. Three of the skill requirements for working with us is 1) flexible 2) digitally savvy 3) parkour.
When hearing pitches from agencies, pay attention to how big their team is. Is it a huge agency where they’re passing clients to juniors down the line? Do you know your main point of contact and content producers? Get to know the roles of each member you’re working with and their skillset.
If you’re not hiring an agency, but want to have a cross functional team, it’s not easy. But it is achievable with some guidelines. It takes a lot of planning, structure, patience, and snacks to get everyone on the same page. Here are some tips on how to build your own cross-functional team.
- Clearly defined roles: To avoid the “that’s not my job” culture, make sure everyone in the team has a clearly defined job description with expectations of crossover duties. This can avoid any work left incomplete, or tasks ignored. With explicit roles, team members will know exactly what is expected of them, and they’re just not dropping in and out of the conversation and getting involved as they please. I.e. “The content manager is responsible for all video strategy, but contributes 3x weekly social posts.”
- Set standards: Learning on-the-go is fun, but you can save hours if you spend one day training a newbie on what “done” actually looks like. When everyone has more than one role, there can be some heavy inconsistencies.
- Creative brainstorms: Getting stuck in your own silo means you’re recycling the same ideas over and over. Once a week, sit down to share some creative ideas across the entire team to see them through (in our case, everyone does PR and content ideas).
This means getting ideas from all departments, because nowadays, data teams could be offering PR teams some killer insight, likewise content professionals might know all the buzzwords that the sales team need to close those deals.
- Set limits: One of the biggest downfalls of cross-functional teams is work being put on one person. Deadlines for specific deliverables should be set. To set realistic deadlines that get done, don’t overload work on to one person.
- Be resourceful: We don’t mean re-using post-it notes. Be resourceful with your staff. Not everyone is hired to do the job that they’re meant to do. One benefit of having a cross-functional team is to be able to allocate resources properly. If you see a flailing staff member, give them the option to move onto another project that they might be better at.
- Have several accountable leaders: With some staff members grinding out the details, it’s hard to see the project as a whole. The trend towards cross-functional teams means we’re losing that old-school hierarchy mentality that inhibits pro-active and creative staff. That being said it’s important to share leadership functions and make sure each project has a different team leader that’s accountable for seeing the project end to end.
- Training sessions Not everyone will walk into a role knowing how to do multiple jobs. Team training sessions are valuable for staff members to step in if someone is sick or away. A monthly training session on photoshop, content, press releases, pitching to the entire team is essential.
If you can’t change your team or hire staff to be agile, hire an agency that’s able to adapt to new changes in the media landscape.
To find out more about one of the quickest moving teams in the industry write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.