Now I don’t actually own 40 acres so I’m talking metaphorically or virtually speaking when I refer to land/territory. What prompts these thoughts is who has responsibility for new media communications in an organisation, who should it be and does it matter?
If we remove telephone and email for the moment as personal communication and consider new media channels, they can be considered ’open to the public’. More importantly open to public scrutiny and as such contribute to, or damage reputation. Building relationships and protecting reputation is traditional remit of public relations hence their management of mass media channels. Well as a Public Relations person I would say that.
For marketing and advertising new media is a way of doing what they have always done to attract customers, only using electronic means. Now, the boundaries between marketingand public relations have been both blurred and complimentary for a while. Marketing is focussed on selling products or services to increase the bottom line. Public Relations, on building relationships and reputation to increase equity.
The thing is we are not alone, in some organisations the IT departments manage new media channels, recruitment and customer service areas respond to enquiries via new media like facebook and Twitter. In any one organisation numerous departments can operate an ‘open to the public’ channel that official communicators may not even have sight of. The greater the fragmentation of channels across an organisation the greater the risk to reputation. Customers can complain publicly that a product or service is no good, or a supplier that they have not been paid. Getting the response right is everything. Greater transparency in how we operate should be welcomed. Trying to control everyone’s message is futile. So I guess as communicators our role is to facilitate what we can, try to make sure branding, style and naming convention are within company guidelines and embrace a truly open system?