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To do income targets well you need the buy-in and skills in place

Having the right skills matters whether you need a cake or plugging an income target. Here is why.

Read this and tell me if you disagree… “If you want really good cakes baking you need to get someone who can bake really good cakes”.

There’s nothing remotely controversial about this statement, is there?

People who bake cakes are good at baking cakes, so it makes sense to get them to bake if you want a good cake.

But for some reason straight forward logic seems to go out of the window when it comes to income targets among public sector comms teams. Income targets are the sum of money that you are expected to bring in to help pay your way. Get a cake wrong and you’ve got nothing to eat. Get the income target wrong and you could end up with a massive financial black hole.

Bear with me on this.

Why all this about income targets?

Along with my comms2point0 colleague Darren Caveney and Emma Howard at Granicus, I’ve been writing and researching a whitepaper on comms and income targets. comms2point0 has a long relationship with Granicus that dates to their early days as GovDelivery. They are good people. The whitepaper will get published later this year at Granicus’ Public Sector Communications Conference in London on 26 September.

What has been striking is that income targets have become an increasingly significant area. Our research shows that around 20 per cent of comms teams surveyed have them.

But the process of writing the whitepaper has revealed a big problem with the skills. For this particular income target cake there are often no dedicated skills. We’re asking non-bakers to become skilled artisan bakers and then we wonder why it isn’t working.

Skills you need for income targets

There is a debate you’ll need to have with your chief finance officer about income targets. I put it to you that it’s better to have that discussion in your own terms rather than be told what your world will look like.

Of course, it depends on how you are going to generate income. In the whitepaper we’ll look at popular methods and case studies. But one thing shines through. You need the skills to do it. If your income generation is going to come from selling advertising space on the website and your email bulletins, it follows you need someone who can sell. So, the comms team who took on a former newspaper ad rep on commission is barking up the right tree. If you need marketing skills, bring in marketing skills.

Sure, there may be people in the team who have entrepreneurial skills and that’s great. But the idea that we can expect a former hack who is doing the job of two people to sell adverts is at best magical thinking. At worst, it’s negligent.

From my time in local government I know that times are tight. But I also know that it is far better to have a say in shaping your future than to have your future shaped. Build a case to bring in the right skills.

Getting the buy-in

You’ll need a good plan that sets out the skills you need to get the buy-in. Here’s another thing we found. If you are going to do this you need the senior buy-in. You need to know what they’ll be happy with and what they won’t be. You need that steer from the off. You need to know the direction to take and the places where they don’t want you to go. To continue with the stretched cake analogy, you need to know if those in charge really hate the idea of Bakewell Tart.

Remember, if you want a good cake, you need someone who bakes good cakes.

This whitepaper will be published at Granicus’ Public Sector Communications Conference in London on 26 September. You can register and attend for free here. You’ll get a free copy of the finished whitepaper.

By Dan Slee, co-creator of comms2point0.