In a world where a tweet or a Tumblr or a teenage blogger in Iowa can make a difference in the perception of a brand, The PR function alone can’t sustain outbound communications.
The McKinsey Quarterly published an article “We’re All Marketers Now” which caught my attention.
If you replace “marketing” with “communications” and replace “customers” with “influencers,” the article makes a compelling argument for decentralizing the communications function.
Consider this line:
The problem for many companies is that the very things that make push marketing effective—tight, relatively centralized operational control over a well-defined set of channels and touch points—hold it back in the era of engagement.
The same holds true for communications. While the number of potential influencers in even niche markets increases, communication resources (internal headcount + agency budget) continue to shrink.
PR can’t keep up.
So the function targets fewer influencers with the unintended consequence that the interactions become more superficial.
Think about this.
At a time when communicators have the opportunity to develop peer-to-peer relationships with influencers and even customers thanks to social media, we’re still in transaction mode; i.e., write the bloody story.
Not exactly an approach that cultivates relationship building.
The McKinsey piece concludes:
The major barrier to engagement is organizational rather than conceptual: given the growing number of touch points where customers now interact with companies, marketing often can’t do what’s needed all on its own. CMOs and their C-suite colleagues must collaborate intensively to adapt their organizations to the way customers now behave and, in the process, redefine the traditional marketing organization. If companies don’t make the transition, they run the risk of being overtaken by competitors that have mastered the new era of engagement.
Likewise, it’s time for PR to collaborate and train others across their organizations. This way we enlist – draft seems so draconian – greater resources, which in turn allows for more and deeper interactions with influencers.
Geez, if the Marine Corps can embrace social media for “the few and the proud,” companies shouldn’t find the concept so daunting.
Pulling from the Marine Corps Social Media Principles handbook, check out the guidance:
As a Marine, it is important that your posts convey the same journalistic excellence the Marine Corps instills in all of its communicators and public affairs professionals. Be respectful of all individuals, races, religions and cultures; how you conduct yourself in the online social media space not only reflects on you — it is a direct reflection on the Marine Corps.