So I want to talk a little bit about getting control of the organization and control of the dollars you need to get the job done.
More than ever in my career I find myself, as a communications executive, fighting for a seat at the table with senior management, and acting more and more as an adviser, fighting for relevance as a “new model marketeer.” And it’s tempting to turn this into a debate over who controls social media….
In fact, there’s already been a tremendous amount of attention in the blogosphere and trade press to the question of “who controls social media,” and whether it’s marketing or communications, and on the importance of getting people out of their silos. And that’s important so I don’t want to denigrate it – people do need to get out of their silos if those silos are built around a media model that no longer works.
But, ultimately, “who controls social media” probably isn’t the right question, because mobile and social media are channels just like print is a channel and I don’t know that anyone is going to fully “control” them within any organization. Does someone own newspapers in your company? I doubt it. A major UK newspaper recently reported that “director of social media” has become the latest must-have for companies, but honestly, that’s the result of lazy thinking by some CEO who knows there’s something called social media, he doesn’t know what it is but he knows he needs somebody who does, so he says “let’s get a director of social media.” In the short term, it may help you get up to speed, but it will generate a lot of turf wars and in the long run it makes about as much sense as a “director of newsprint.” Successful companies are approaching this more thoughtfully, integrating mobility and social media into everything they do.
Whatever the organizational structure, it is our responsibility as communications officers to establish discipline in the company’s messages, and that’s especially important if we’re going to deputize people – as we must – to act in real time, without a lot of layers of review and approval. In my own company, at Nokia, we’ve got something like 70 people who are performing communications functions online but who aren’t in the communications group. I’m less worried about reorganizing the company than I am in just making sure we can enforce consistent message discipline and transparency across the board, no matter who they report to.
If we, as communications leaders, are going to play that role, we need to demonstrate to management the indispensability of these new channels, and our own effectiveness in using them.