In my book, Social Media and Public Relations: Eight New Practices for the PR Professional, PR Practice #2 is the Internal Collaboration Generator. This practice focuses on the communications professional who appreciates how social media collaboration starts on the inside of the organization. Because social media moves across the organization, it’s imperative for you work more closely with your own department, as well as with other departments including Advertising, Marketing, Web, IT, HR, Legal, Sales, etc. The Internal Collaboration Generator knows it’s time to break down the silos for greater internal sharing and effective communication, which begins on the inside of the company and then goes outward to the public.
Originally, the chart below was to appear in my chapter on the Internal Collaboration Generator. But, due to space constraints, we had to edit the diagram out. You can see from the wheel visual that there are several new roles and responsibilities for you to learn and embrace, as you evolve into the Internal Collaboration Generator role. [Note: You must think like a Hybrid Professional to successfully master this role.]
The Internal Collaboration Generator is a professional who quickly learns that a critical part of the communications strategy and planning process includes a way for the communications team and other departments involved in social media to share, coordinate, collaborate and innovate in a more productive and creative manner.
Here are a few of your new responsibilities:
Research How Your Department Shares: In order to move forward with a new way of sharing in your department or with other departments it’s imperative to review what type of sharing is currently working or not working. You can research the pros and cons of current sharing practices and ask peers how they would like to collaborate and innovate together. One of the best ways to find out is to observe their behavior, discuss their challenges and ask how they want their communications to be improved.
Answer the Sharing Questions: As an Internal Collaboration Generator you and your team have to answer the “Sharing Questions.” These are simple questions that address your team’s sharing needs including: Does your team need to share and edit documents in real-time? Do you need project management capabilities to be available in your platform? Should there be areas for discussion including groups, forums, blogs, etc.? Does your platform need video capabilities? Do you need more advanced sharing and innovation including platforms with internal social computing? Of course, your responses should be geared toward your social media growth, as you increase the participation in your program
Determine Sharing Needs: Once you evaluate sharing habits and answer the sharing questions, you will be able to determine which level of sharing is right for your team. Sharing ranges from simple document editing and project management to collaborative enterprise platforms. If you work in a larger organization, chances are an advanced platform may already be in place. If this is the case, then it’s up to Internal Collaboration Generators to learn more about the platform’s functionality and benefits of use, and embrace how to use existing resources and tools for better collaboration and innovation internally.
Research and Evaluate Platforms: At this point you’re ready to evaluate the capabilities required in your collaborative platform, as well as the pros and cons of the different sharing environments. From the paid platforms to the free tools, you can use a matrix approach. The matrix approach enables you evaluate your specific objectives for collaboration (listed in the far left column of your matrix) and then compare the functionality you need to a few platform choices you believe might be the best solution (listed across the matrix). It’s also critical for your team to not only review but also demo and trial a platform to make sure it meets the communication needs of the team.
Create a Communications Plan to Educate: Making technology available in the communications department or in other departments in your company is only the first part of your challenge. Getting your peers to participate collaboratively in the new platform and to use it appropriately is the other part of the Internal Collaboration Generator’s role. You will need a plan to introduce the new technology and to teach and motivate others how to use the platform properly for streamlined communication. Of course, your own understanding and ability to use the technology will also help educate your team members on the value and increased productivity internal collaboration will bring to the organization.