What's More Important: Results? Or Control?

ControlWhat’s more important to your communications program? Results? Or control?

Think about it and answer it honestly to yourself. Results? Or control?

From where we sit, control seems to be more important than ever in too many organizations, even though those who sacrifice results or even audience growth to maintain or seize control won’t admit it’s their real priority. They rationalize it, excuse it, even defend it. But control seems to be more of a priority now than ever in many organizations.

Sometimes, it’s just workplace self-preservation. It’s the insecure, in-house marketing lead who is always reticent to give any projects beyond press releases to the agency the CEO hired, so the manager can claim credit for the “big wins.” That precedes complaints to the boss that the agency isn’t earning their fees. After enough complaints, the contract isn’t renewed and the manager “wins” by maintaining control.

Other times, it’s corporate rationalization. We heard of a public company that eliminated all of its local PR positions. In communicating about the move internally, the line was along the lines of “By centralizing communications, the company will be more focused and efficient to serve local markets.” Huh? You’re serving local markets better by cutting the jobs of those who know the local markets best? Really, it’s about corporate control.

Then there’s this egregious example. A nonprofit organization asked a PR firm for a proposal for social media management. The firm proposed a discounted rate to professionally design and execute a program cohesive with the rest of the organization’s communications and brand. The proposal was rejected when the organization decided to “hire a part-time, in-house marketing person for the same cost.” For that cheap? You’re going to find someone with enthusiasm for the mission, professional communications skills able to run 24/7 communications platforms and be willing to work part-time? Yes, the executive director said, “we’ll hire someone young who just needs a job.” Again, that’s all about control.

It’s time for honest conversation in board meetings, leadership team meetings and annual reviews. If control is what’s most important, don’t go through the charade of seeking outside help. Just admit it and accept that you have made that choice. If results are most important, cede just a little control and spend what it takes for the support and guidance you need to be successful.