You inherited a comms program. Now what?

Sep 20, 2022 Laura Garofalo

You just inherited a comms program. 

Now what? 

Regardless of the circumstance, you need to go into triage mode — get a quick lay of the land and add value where you can (hint: it’s all about balancing speed with substance). Here are 10 important steps to take in the early days of the transition: 

#1: Connect with the CEO

Build and nurture this relationship. Understand the vision of the company including the near-term and long-term goals. Find ways to meet with board members or investors while you’re at it. Know what you’re getting into in terms of expectations.

#2: Understand the pipeline

What is the sales process (and how long does it typically take)? Where are the qualified leads coming from? Befriend the CRO or head of sales and use your comms skills to break down silos if they exist. Their goals are your goals too. 

#3: Dive into performance reports

Look at existing plans and historical data to get a sense of what’s been working (and what’s not). Set benchmarks and new, yet achievable, goals. 

#4: Comb through the budget and vendor scopes

Where is there overlap? Focus on line items that give you long-term brand equity and show short-term ROI. And if you’re putting a budget together from scratch, ask yourself these questions. Prioritize but don’t compromise. 

#5: Take stock of assets

Who are the brand champions? Find out if there’s a customer reference program in place or a data team you can leverage. Third-party validation can reignite a stale program in this challenging market

#6: Get the story straight

It’s highly likely you’re taking over this program to sort out the messaging mess or to make the company’s story relevant again. Before you jump into the particulars, get a consensus from management about the top audiences (and the desired actions you need to inspire them to take). Your story is your business strategy. 

#7: Evaluate the spokesperson bench

Who is the go-to thought leader? It’s not always the founder or CEO. Schedule time with each SME to learn their unique strengths and weaknesses. And you’ll need to media train them for your new story when the time comes. A spokesperson is not born, they are groomed.

#8: Audit the channel and content strategy

What is the brand presence — is it everywhere or nowhere? Does the content capture attention (and engagement) or fall flat? Use a mix of qualitative and quantitative insights to inform your plan. 

#9: Dust off the crisis plan

Or consider writing one if it doesn’t exist. Remember, a layoff counts as a crisis. Crises come in all shapes and sizes, and they can have a lasting impact. 

#10: Define what success looks like

Build an actionable plan where you can show immediate value. Set the goals, roll up your sleeves and get started. You’ve got this! 

“What are the most important, fast-closing things that if you miss, would be an issue in three months? When you are in triage mode, you need to ask yourself hard questions like these.” 

 — Jason Morris, president, Inkhouse

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Laura Garofalo

Laura is the vice president of marketing at Inkhouse.

Read more from Laura Garofalo

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