Next phase of digital in corporate communications

February 15, 2014

For the communicator whose focus has been applying digital and social to corporate communications, efforts have tended to centre on building foundations:

  • Evangelism – continually proving the value to internal audiences, given the peculiarities of corporate communications (smaller audiences and a – supposedly – more cerebral message)
  • Channel strategy – given the niches, channel strategy has been front of mind as the corporate communicator has tended to be unsure of the value of most channels and usually wants to only be present on one or two
  • Operations – corporate communications teams tend to be small; how can they, operationally, manage online content and engagement given the stress it places on resources
  • Governance – corporate communicators are the guardians of reputation and their remit covers crisis, so clear governance has always been imperative

Although many organisations are still grappling with the foundations, others have got those boxes ticked. So the token digital and social person in the room now frequently needs to address other needs which represent the next phase of digital in corporate communications: doing it bloody well. Most of all, this involves:

  • Planning – the insights and ideas piece. We’re producing content, but so is everyone else. What’s the target audience insight that matters most, and what’s a smart idea for getting their attention and influencing their views?
  • Creative – how can the smart idea best be presented?
  • Subject matter knowledge – whereas knowing the channels and the principles has usually been enough, the person wearing the digital hat is also expected to understand the issue and/or sector in question more than has previously been the case

In effect, in the latter scenario, the digital person in corporate communications is no more. Basic planning, creative and subject matter knowledge don’t stem from knowledge of digital; they’re the hallmarks of a competent communications generalist. Purely “digital” people tend now to be experts in a single element of digital (a single component of social, user experience, listening etc.) As for the generalists, they should be removing “digital” from their job titles.

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