As my friend Simon writes on his site, BP broke ranks back in the 90s: they stopped trying to pretend global warming wasn’t happening, opting instead to be part of the solution and re-brand themselves as a green(ish) company. Sure, you can say they were responding to societal developments and knew that their approach could be commercially viable, but it wouldn’t have happened without their champion: BP CEO John (now Lord) Browne, who had the foresight, motivation and energy to break with tradition and do something amazing.
In eCommunications we also tend to need champions to make things happen. Senior management at any given company might not think it’s worth the effort to engage online, it might all seem a little too techy to truly be strategic, they worry about giving up control to a community, or think proven ROI is negligible. In these cases (read: almost every time), to get things rolling and take the leap, an individual within a company, who understands the value of digital, has to take responsibility, argue the case (often for months on end), and take on board most if not all of the logistics.
The clients I work for who have truly embraced the web, and have made eCampaigns or other activities really work for them, almost all have an eChampion in their ranks who first made it happen despite plenty of initial doubt and resistance within their organisations.
The million-dollar question: how do you find these champions?! You don’t, they tend to find you, but at this point, what’s even more important than guiding your champion through the online labyrinth, is to regularly encourage and assure him/her that it really will be worth it in the end!