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Don’t underestimate power of informal lobbying

Being an influential insider does not always require being in the boardroom with the top bosse

Gulf News

New York: If you are a corporate communicator or a marketing executive, your work may actually start after 5pm.

Lobbying senior business executives informally — at coffee shops or fitness centres — is a suave way to perform your job successfully, according to a new study.

“Being an influential insider does not always require being in the boardroom with the top bosses,” said Marlene Neill, assistant professor of journalism, public relations and new media at Baylor University.

“Intelligence-gathering” is best done by having a seat at multiple “decision tables” at different levels in a company — and then sharing that information in varied settings, often informally, according to the study findings.

“Internal communications was once considered a stepchild in public relations, but it is beginning to receive the attention it deserves,” Neill said.

She conducted 22 hours of in-depth, recorded interviews with 30 senior executives representing multiple departments within four top US companies.

One hurdle communications professionals face at division-leadership level is “a lack of formal power”, the study showed.

“We realised that our business leaders were listening to us, but we didn’t have that ball all the way punched into the end zone,” one corporate communications executive told Neill.

The game-changer was “informal coalitions” of the sort that stem from talks in break rooms, coffee shops or fitness centres.

You have those doors you cannot get behind, those assistants or receptionists that control access — or executives are in meetings a lot of the time.

“People in PR and marketing as well as in other departments catch top executives in the hall, at Starbucks or fitness centres,” she said.