Us ORCAs welcomed Marie as an intern for half a year. During this time, she also wrote the following opinion piece. We would like to take this opportunity to thank her again for her support and this exciting article.
When working with clients, it is not uncommon for us to explain what exactly communication work is and how different mechanisms are connected - at least that is what my colleagues told me. At the time, I was not only new to ORCA van Loon Communications but also a newcomer to the communication industry. I had spent the last few years as a cultural scientist and research assistant. Therefore, the compilation of basic tasks, key figures, and consequences of communication work sounded like exactly the right task for me. Working out the similarities and differences between public relations, public affairs, and corporate communications, for example, sharpened my view of our management consultancy tasks. The research of statistical data showed me impressively how important good communication is.
The magic word newsroom
When I came across the newsroom model in my research - I had by now reached the buzzword "integrated communication" - I initially thought I had found the Holy Grail. Not because the concept is necessarily new, quite the opposite. Newsrooms have been around in German corporate communications for about 10 years. I was so excited because the model seemed to fulfill so many scientific criteria. An almost perfect translation of theory into practice.
Others think so too: According to a survey by the Hamburg Institute for Management and Economic Research (IMWF) of 161 professionals and executives from the PR and communications industry in December 2021, three-quarters of the respondents have anchored a newsroom in their company in some form, are in the process of implementing it or would like to see a corresponding concept. But the disillusionment was soon to follow. Even when searching for illustrative examples of successfully implemented models, I only found the same names with the same campaigns over and over again.
What are the challenges for companies?
Apparently, it doesn't seem to be that easy to establish a newsroom. The reasons for this are manifold. As it is often the case, two of the most important factors are money and time. For many companies, establishing a newsroom means a complete restructuring that not only affects the press or communications departments but also many corporate divisions up to the executive floors. Another survey by the Umfrage des IMWF kommt zu dem Ergebnis, dass das Top-Management in strategischen Fragen zu 63 Prozent auf die Finanzen und das Controlling schaut, aber nur zur 36 Prozent auf die Kommunikation – hier werden Prioritäten deutlich.
Then, of course, there is the actual conception and implementation: breaking down walls, overcoming barriers - these are the sometimes metaphorical, sometimes literal wordings that headline newsroom instructions. From a creative perspective, this sounds great at first: open spaces, removing old structures, dismantling hierarchies. But not all employees of a company react positively to change processes. Some fear for their jobs. Others wonder why established paths that supposedly work quite well and lead to the goal must now be abandoned. Acceptance management and well-positioned internal communication are the be-all and end-all at this point.
Do not see the newsroom as an end in itself
Let's take a step back: the newsroom should not be an end in itself - even if some reports give the opposite impression. Rather, it is about integrating and linking previously separate business areas with the aim of being able to tell better stories.
While this still sounds - supposedly - simple in small and medium-sized companies, it looks quite different in large corporations. The departments with strong teams are highly specialized and already have to spend part of their resources to coordinate within the team. In addition, they struggle with other departments for resources, and so sometimes it is more a case of working against each other than with each other. Here, individual measures and campaigns - a joint intranet or a merged social media editorial team - could lead to breaking down initial barriers and building more understanding of each other's work. Of course, this is also about change, not following a theoretical ideal, but with a hands-on mentality and fixed processes. Corporate communication also benefits from this - and perhaps without having to educate people about its tasks and purpose beforehand, because after all, visible results are achieved quickly.
My conclusion: It doesn't always have to be the big, abstract idea. Smaller measures that contribute step by step to integrated communication also achieve the desired goal.