4 Innovative Ways to Build a Communications Team When You Have No Staff

build a communications teamThe vast majority of people who lead their organization’s communications have a paid communications staff of one – themselves. And that’s probably being generous. Most are probably part time or have been giving the communications director role as an add-on to their primary responsibilities.

If that’s you and you’re feeling the weight of the communication’s load by yourself, it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact it shouldn’t be that way.

You can’t do communications well as a solo artist.

As we continue our Leadership in Communications series, in this post we look at how to build a communications team when you’re the only paid communications person on staff.

I’ve never met anyone who was great at every aspect of communications. There are so many diverse skills involved:

  • Writing copy for announcements, newsletters, press releases, etc.
  • Installing and setting up websites and blogs
  • Graphic design
  • Video editing
  • Social media engagement
  • Engaging the press and media
  • Proof reading
  • Giving verbal announcements to a crowd of people
  • Twirling signs out on the street corner

Try this quick exercise:

  1. List all your various communications responsibilities.
  2. Rate yourself on each item – great, OK, poor. Do you enjoy it and do it really well? Do you hate it and stink at it? Or is it somewhere in the middle where you can do it, but it’s not really in your sweet spot. You don’t really enjoy it or you’re not that good at it.
  3. Make it your goal to delegate everything you’re not great at.

If #3 sounds crazy because you are the communications team, do you want your organization’s communications to be excellent? If you do, you’re going to have to have people doing each part of the job who are excellent at that part of the job.

How do you build a team and delegate when you are the only paid staff?

1) Outsource. There are plenty of graphic designers, video editors, and web developers out there who would love work with you on a regular basis.

2) Recruit co-workers. You probably have colleagues on staff who can do some of these things better than you can. This may sound crazy, but if the entire staff is genuinely committed to fulfilling your organization’s mission, and it’s genuinely in the organizations best interest to have others doing some of the communications work, then it’s worth pursuing. You may have to get their boss’s permission. You may also have to be willing to trade responsibilities, and do something you do well for someone else.

3) Recruit volunteers. If your organization is a church, school, or non-profit, volunteers are your life-blood. You probably have people connected with your org who would do better and enjoy some of the things you don’t do well. Don’t expect to find them with a mass email or announcement though. Find them, take them out for coffee, cast vision for what they could do to make your orgs communications great and how that would be a game changer.

4) Ask for more staff. If you genuinely believe your organization would be able to do a much better at achieving its mission with additional staff, make the case to your boss. It may make sense to bring on a part time web/graphic design/video person.

If all 4 of those options fail, there are two other alternatives I can think of:

5) Learn to do it better yourself. If it’s something you could do better and would enjoy doing with some training, mentoring, or self-learning, do it.

6) Stop doing some things. If all else fails and you’re still not able to do a particular aspect of your communications job well, it may be better to not do it at all than to do it poorly.

If you’re the solo communications person on your team, which of these strategies have you used? Which have you found to be most successful? Do you know of any other ideas for solo communications people?

8 ) Does Your Organization Need a Social Media Policy? <– Leadership in Communications –> 10) How to triple your marketing team overnight for $0

Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, elder of CypressMeadows.org, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck and add him to your circles at Google+ as +Paul Steinbrueck.

10 Responses to “4 Innovative Ways to Build a Communications Team When You Have No Staff”

  1. Hi Paul, just checking… on #3 above did you mean to say, "delegate everything you're NOT great at?" If so, I'm on board with that idea! We also did a post a while back that might help folks determine the best way to find and evaluate a potential volunteer: http://churchwebsites.org/3-necessary-elements-in

    • PaulSteinbrueck Sep 8, 2011 at 2:23 pm

      Doh! Yes, thank you for catching that. I didn't realize Site Organic had a blog. Good to see that!

  2. Debi Debanto Sep 8, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    Paul – that's a great post. I especially like #6 – stop doing some things. Everything has an opportunity cost. What could you be doing with that time that would have a better return or bigger impact. We're currently evaluating whether we really need to continue the monthly newsletter. It's a big drain on time and simply repeats news that is covered in the weekly email, the Sunday bulletin or the webpage. It's a big hurdle because "we've always done it that way" but that money and time could be spent for a much bigger impact.

    • PaulSteinbrueck Sep 12, 2011 at 6:20 pm

      Kill it! :) Debi, that's a great perspective and a great example. All orgs ought to re-evaluate all their communications media on a regular basis and determine if they're still providing a good value for the time & resources being put into them.

  3. These are very useful tips! I'm one of those, I need to do everything myself because I'm afraid others won't do it as well type of person and it's just stressful because I KNOW I can't do it all. I'll try to utilize these tips by doing your exercise. Thanks for the great read.

    • PaulSteinbrueck Sep 12, 2011 at 6:21 pm

      I hope you'll give recruiting a team and delegating a try. I will change your life. :)

  4. Althea B. Houpe Sep 10, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    Hello Paul,
    I too loved your tips! I am in the process of exploring business ownership and like Sheryll, I tend to do everything myself. I'm praying about getting the right team of people that will be an asset to the business so these tips will come in handy. Thanks much and many blessings!

    Althea : )

    • PaulSteinbrueck Sep 12, 2011 at 6:23 pm

      Sounds great Althea! When you do that (not that you ever finish building a team) come back and us know how it went and what you learned from the experience.

  5. Sound interesting, there can be many people who don't know to be a good communicator to their staff that is why they end up loosing them. I think I should also try it to build communication team.Fab Defence

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    [...] 9) 4 Innovative Ways to Build a Communications Team When You Have No Staff <– Leadership in Communications Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, elder of CypressMeadows.org, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck communications, social networking employees, marketing, social media, team, team-building How I added 1188 Facebook Fans to “Spread Jesus Today” in 1 Week! [...]