The role of marketing, advertising and public relations should be to expose their incredible company to the world at large and let people see all of the things that make it unique and great.
Stop for a moment and think about whether that resonates as true. Far more people relate to the following statement instead: “The role of marketing, advertising and PR is to manipulate public perception to match what they’d like for the public to believe.” The actual nature of the company is irrelevant in that statement.
There are far too many reasons why people feel this way to go into all of them here, but one reason is the marketing team believes its role is to be reactive. Meaning, it can work only with what it has been given. Someone else designed the product or service feature set, someone else hired the other employees, someone else created the company’s vision. The marketing team’s job is to take what it is given and make the best of it.
Now, this is certainly not true in all organizations. In some, the CMO or equivalent is heavily involved in the planning of future product or service lines. In others, the company truly is already aligned with the desired public perception. Unfortunately, they are few and far in between. Even fewer of the people in these positions are directly involved in shaping the future direction of the organization itself.
That’s a mistake, and it’s not unique to marketing. Most people in organizations feel the same way about their role to one extent or another. There’s this perceived velvet rope separating them from being in a position where they could make a “real” impact on the organization’s direction.
Perhaps they have useful input on a topic but feel restrained from giving it because they’d be intruding into an area that is “not their responsibility.” Perhaps their management would frown upon, or be threatened by, collaboration outside the boundaries of the personnel they control. Most often, the organizational model simply does not support this kind of horizontal participation and by its very nature keeps participation within its siloed boundaries.
One of the reasons social business is gaining so much traction is that it presents solutions for getting beyond this detrimental velvet rope. The cultural, political and organizational design aspects are addressed with proper frameworks and change management efforts, enabled by collaborative technologies. Education, policy and process empower individual voices, while putting filters on the possibility of those voices becoming distracting static. It’s a powerful means of evolving a business into a more effective and agile entity.
If we go back to our example of the role of marketing, social business changes the focus from an external drive to manipulate marketplace beliefs to an internally inclusive one of manipulating the organization to become what it wishes to be perceived as. This inward focus on improving the overall organization by better leveraging the distributed knowledge within it underlies the power of social business. That power allows companies and their employees to get beyond the velvet rope.
Originally posted on November 26, 2012 by Matt Ridings, the Co-Founder and CEO of SideraWorks, a management consultancy focused on social business transformation.
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