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communications manager

Can you outsource a manager?

blue question markThe general answer is yes, you can outsource a managerial role but there are some exceptions and industry-specific challenges.

By outsourcing I simply mean having someone take on a managerial role as a contractor rather than an employee. Often this means they work remotely (ie not in the business premises) but that is not always the case.

For example, I do the Communications Manager role (including being listed on an org chart) for some companies who don’t need a full time person – I write their materials and manage the relevant suppliers (designers and printers mostly) from a distance.

Outsourcing a manager role may not be effective in every case of course:

  • a remote manager will be challenged to oversee staff in many situations
  • a retail manger needs to be in the shop to deal with customer issues
  • a production manager would need to be near the production line to ensure it is working and for any problem solving
  • a senior manager (eg general manager) who is not an employee may be less effective because they are not as invested in the business they are managing

So next time you are considering a full time employee manager, think about whether or not you could outsource that role effectively.

If you have outsourced a managerial role, even on a short term basis, how did it go? Woud you do it again?

Communications is more than marketing

Although there is some overlap in the roles, there are distinct roles for a business or corporate writer, communications manager, marketing person, designer, web manager and social media manager or monitor.

Many people don’t realise there is such a range of roles behind the public presentation of a business, so here is my summary of the roles.

A communications manager oversees many of the processes involved in producing materials to promote a business. For example, a communications manager ensures an annual report is written, designed, printed and added to a website with all necessary people approving it. A communications manager may do some of the tasks themselves, manage a team of people to do the tasks or outsource specific tasks. Communications managers generally have a writing or marketing background.

A business or corporate writer actually puts the words together to effectively communicate a message in a style that suits the business and its customers. The writer also often edits material written by other people such as a letter from a sales manager or a marketer’s brochure. Sometimes a writer will also help implement the content such as posting to a blog or working with a print-based or online-based graphic designer to tweak the message to fit.

A web manager obviously manages the website, which can include tasks such as making changes, optimising the site for search engine results, updating the design or navigation, and maintaining data.

A designer makes the message as visually appealing as possible, whether that is a simple letterhead, a website design, branding or preparing some advertising banners and posters.

A marketing officer or manager is a little harder to define. It is a creative role of trying to get the business/message to as many appropriate people as possible. Marketing includes deciding where to promote the business as well as the key messages to promote, such as a tag line, campaign theme and suitable formats.

A social media manager or monitor is obviously a newer role but no less important for that. Social media is becoming more important as a means of promoting and building your business, but it can be time consuming and has some elements that (like most things) require specific skills and knowledge. You can get someone to monitor your social media appearances (ie they check various platforms each day to see what people are saying about you) or someone can manage your social media overall (such as making posts for you, planning a strategy and replying to mentions).

If you are employing someone, you may want to think through exactly what tasks you need done before choosing the role to fill, and someone who can do more than one set of tasks may be valuable (for example a writer who can update your website or post tweets for you).

However, if you are outsourcing, remember the roles are different and choosing the appropriate person will probably give you better results than expecting too much from one person (for instance assuming that your designer will proof read your writing or write some tweets to promote your new eBook could lead to disappointment).

Some projects will obviously take more than one role to fulfill, which may seem hard to manage in itself. In this case, outsource to someone who is willing to manage those other tasks for you rather than someone who claims to do it all themselves. I would never outsource design work to me for example, but I have relationships with some great designers so can manage a project by sub contracting to them – the difference in results is huge but the effort for a client is minimised.