Friday, April 15, 2005

Do the do - or help others?

It used to be so simple. Managers came to the comms team when they had something to communicate. Consequently, professional communicators could plan and execute and track the response. Hopefully they'd learn from whatever impact the message had created and use that knowledge to make things better next time round the loop. The downside was that communicators could become bottlenecks or spinmeisters or simply didn't know enough about the deep down detail of the relevant part of the organisation to create the right impact with their take on the communication.

But now, especially with the rise of electronic tools, everyone, anywhere within an organisation can be a communicator. The tendency is to go for the immediate: to bypass the professional communicators in order to grab the immediacy. So, much organisational communication is no longer planned. The consequence can be repeated mistakes, informaton overload (or gaps, or duplicaton) and organisational communication chaos.

So where does that lead professional communicators today? Should we strive for that control over the 'doing' once again, or find another role within our organisations?

My view is that we'll always have some role in developing and maintaining the formalised communication - defining the comms strategy; implementing key parts of the plan; owning the corporate channels. But the genie is well and truly out of the bottle now - and there's no way we should want or need to stuff the cork back in.

We've got to move on: to accept that most organisational communication will be generated away from our PCs. But we have a huge role to play as coaches, mentors, setters of standards and policies and educators on how those within our organisations can get the most out of the tools available to them.

That means us knowing our businesses (not just communications) better so that we are seen to have a valuable input into their working lives and can help them use communication as the powerful business tool it should be. No communicator can afford to be sniffy about others 'invading our space' - that way lies King Canute. Instead, we should welcome the interest - it's not an invasion and work from within to embed effective communicaton as the way we get things done.

1 comment:

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