It’s official … Social Media and Public Relations: Eight New Practices for the PR Professional is here! My book is available (a littler earlier than I expected) in a print (paperback version) and all digital formats. However, what you won’t find in the book is some of the content I’m sharing in this blog series. These are the charts and even parts of chapters that were cut at the last minute, during the final production process. To continue with my series, today’s post discusses the chart, which would have appeared in the chapter on PR Practice #4 (The COMMS Organizer). The COMMS organizer has an extremely important role, and, as I stated in my book, it takes a “… proactive PR person or team of communications professionals to identify and uproot a long and tired process, and literally flip it upside down.”
You can see from the wheel visual that there are several new roles and responsibilities for you to learn as the COMMS Organizer in your own company. It’s up to you to embrace a new process first, and then educate your peers on a more collaborative approach to creating communication and then sharing it as a unified team. Most of all, the COMMS organizer knows there are changes in communication that must be addressed internally for better sharing and engagement with the public.
As a COMMS Organizer, now, it’s your responsibility to make sure your stakeholders are pulling information from the organization. To accomplish this goal, internally you must create tools and channels to share, and collaborate and integrate with the efforts of your peers. Externally, you’re creating new types of stories and curating content through different channels. Here’s how the responsibilities break down in your new practice:
Set up a Customer Intelligence System
Your social media program begins with Listening or keyword tracking to gain customer and market intelligence. PR and marketing are responsible for monitoring the brand and market landscape and reporting back to the C-Suite. Setting up a customer intelligence system requires information to reach various departments in the organization (beyond communications) that use social media for their own programs. It’s important to turn the listening intelligence on for all areas active in social media and then determine how your Listen/ Evaluate/Response strategy will lead to closing the gap between what you share and what the public needs.
Build a Two Prong Content Approach
You can “Listen” or track keywords to uncover conversation, which leads to the creation of compelling content or the use of existing content (tweaked for social media channels). With either prong in the approach, information must be shared with meaning and reflect proper timing. In PR, we time our news and develop story angles often tying into local, regional or national news. Social media requires us to still listen to the news media, as well as quite a bit of daily community listening. Community conversations will also offer great ideas on what, how and when to share your content.
Focus on Department Sharing
When your team is aligned and on the same page with respect to a communications effort, the result is better external sharing with public. A departmental content calendar let’s the your team or department know what’s going to be shared, where it’s supposed to be shared and the timing of the distribution. These calendars are simple to construct. You can frame when and what should be shared on a spreadsheet (use an editable document on your shared internal platform) to include the timeframe for your initiative, and then the breakdown your social media profiles. Teams often use separate line items to identify what will be shared each day of the week through their social media channels.
Focus on Universal Sharing
Universal sharing means moving away from communication in silos and setting goals based on a new process. When different groups build social media channels, focus communication around their own initiatives, and don’t share or support overall brand communication, then social media is not working for the company as a collective whole. In order to make social media work for the entire company, there has to be a coordinated effort from the development of the content to how the information is shared. Universal calendars are shared across departments to support larger social media communications efforts (an example would be a product launch) with respect to key company events, themes, accepted imagery, link sharing and content, which is highly supportive in broader company efforts.
Develop a Social Media Playbook
The social media playbook is that game plan that keeps all of the team players on the same page and reaching the established goal(s). When different departments are involved in a broad communications initiative the playbook serves a very important purpose. It identifies the goals, messages, audiences, communications (a blend of social media or traditional), acceptable content, shared links and expert resources. The playbook is a strategy that allows groups to work together in harmony and to be able to achieve goals together, as an organization, as well as within their own respective areas.
Build a Gatekeeper System
The Universal Gatekeeper System will be the responsibility of the COMMS organizer in conjunction with other department including HR, legal and IT. Working interdepartmentally to create a communications practice of gathering social media profile account information, or making profile information readily available, is a part of a social media management system. Having the information centrally located is a best practice for the larger organization with a tremendous amount of social media activity and many different profiles per department or for various brand products. Your Universal Gatekeeper System will collect social profile URLs, user names, passwords, and email addresses for the set up of social media accounts. This responsibility becomes especially important as more champions in the company learn to build community and engage with constituents.
Educate with Training & Toolkits
People adapt to social media communications on many different levels. From the inactive or non-participants to the creators of content, training and education is necessary to offer resources and information for people to learn and grow with the organization’s social media program. It’s also important to keep your employees up-to-date with the latest types of technology and resources available, especially as the social landscape changes and expands. Social media education and the development of toolkits (documents created with helpful tools, links to information and learning resources) should be provided at the start of your program and made available company-wide. A good communications program about training and toolkits will have employees learning and embracing new practices much more quickly than asking them research on their own.
The COMMS Organizer develops a more structured and productive approach to internal communications and collaboration in departments and between departments to create better brand communication with the public.