There have been several interesting posts recently about who owns the social media function. One of those posts generated a conversation on Twitter between myself, @mandy_vavrinak and @patrickallmond, and I started thinking. Dangerous I know. 🙂
The comment was made that PR or Marketing should manage the social media function, and if people using social media are not in Marketing then they need to be moved there. I don’t agree with that statement because I believe everyone in a company represents Marketing in some form or fashion.
Organizational structures are different with every company. Some have Marketing and a separate PR department, while others combine the two functions into a single department. I know there are arguments as to which is the ideal situation, but that’s not the point of this post. I think we can all agree that there must be an area in the company that focuses on strategic communication, messaging and the management of the plan’s execution. I would be surprised if we didn’t also agree that there needs to be an understanding that everyone within a company represents the brand, and therefore becomes an extension of the Marketing department.
Marketing’s job is to work with senior management to develop the right strategic communications plan that works with the business’ objectives. It is our job to not only determine how that message is to be shared with external audiences but, more importantly, how it is to be shared with internal audiences.
Whether you work in IT, Engineering, Customer Service, Sales or HR, every single person should recognize the talking points that matter most to the company for a given year or period of time. If you can’t walk down the hall and ask every one you see what those points are and get the response you desire from your team members, then you are not doing your job as a communicator, in my opinion. Somewhere in the communication chain is a breakdown that needs to be addressed.
That’s not to say that the message is so scripted that there isn’t room for personality or individuality. However, a solidly prepared plan provides a foundation on which all conversations can be held. The company’s communication and social media policies must be shared throughout the organization.
I was fortunate at one company to work with a President who worked very hard to share the business and marketing strategies with all employees. He would host town halls, luncheons, manager meetings, etc. to create the opportunity to share but also listen to what employees had to say. If there was a disconnect between what he was saying and what he heard then he would come back to us in Marketing and figure out new and different ways of conveying the message.
Your employees are one of the most important assets for your brand. While products and services evolve, the core foundation will remain your employees, and allowing them to develop the knowledge, subject matter expertise and loyalty needed to do their jobs properly plays an integral role in how your brand is perceived in the marketplace. This means too that you are empowering others in the organization to execute on the communications plan, giving up a measure of control over what might be said, to build an employee base who believes in the brand and feels as if they have a true stake in the organization. The key for the business and for us as strategic communicators is to train others to use the available tools well and understand the messages completely. Our success as marketers depends on it.
What are your thoughts?