Infographic on how Social Media are being used...

Infographic on how Social Media are being used, and how everything is changed by them. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last week I was talking with a friend of mine who works in Corporate Communications at a big company and she mentioned how her team had embraced social media.

Good, I thought. She must have finally overcome her hesitancy to personally participate.

So did she start a blog? Join Twitter? Was she posting to her company’s Facebook page? Contributing to their online forums?

Nope. She’s got her team doing all of that. She supervises.

So yes, the work gets done, but I’m not convinced she can fully understand the work her team is doing unless she personally participates.

Because I do, I understand how reporters share their stories through social media, and how our customers consume that content — how they share it and act on it.

I understand what drives our customers to share a YouTube video ad and why they skip a video altogether. I understand how a blogger’s misunderstanding of what the facts are in a certain situation can ricochet across the Internet if we don’t act quickly to set the record straight.

Maybe my friend does, too, but I doubt she understands this as well as I do.

Why is it still okay for a corporate communications professional to run social media from a distance? Would you trust someone to run your company’s media relations shop if they never spoke to a journalist? Would you be okay with them managing a speechwriter if they had never written a speech for an executive? Would you be okay with them running your employee communications if they had never surveyed employees to know what exactly employees want and need to hear from you and your company’s leadership team?

There is a generation of communications professionals leading very large Corporate Communications teams who don’t really understand social media because they don’t participate in it. If this describes you, it’s time to stop making excuses. Get someone who you have delegated social media responsibilities to get you up and running and personally involved.

You will learn a lot in a very short amount of time. I’m not saying you have to do everything, but try participating in just one of your company’s social media channels. Watch how your customers or your employees or the media interact there. I promise you, you will learn something valuable and you’ll make better decisions about your company’s social media programs. Along the way, your social media team may just gain a bit more respect for you as a leader.




Image representing Andrew Mason as depicted in...

Andrew Mason, CEO of Groupon. Image via CrunchBase

When I first began working at a publicly traded company, the team who managed the media relations around our company’s quarterly earnings never shared information with the broader corporate communications team, even our employee communications team. It drove me crazy, especially as someone working on that employee communications team.

How were we supposed to keep employees informed about the company and its strategy if they were hearing news first from the news media? We always had to scramble to prepare employee communications regarding earnings because we got the earnings news release when the news media got it.

Though this was done out of an abundance of caution to ensure we didn’t violate Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rules, the approach always struck me as odd, because it meant that our workforce was usually the last to know about the company’s news coming out of earnings. Over time, this changed as our internal communications team lead worked with our finance team to ensure that some sort of employee communication went out at the same time as the earnings news release.

That approach– sending an employee communications out at the same time as your earnings news release crosses the wire — respects your employees and most importantly,  is consistent with the rules of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). (We just made sure that our internal communications lead operated under the same non-disclosure rules as our financial media relations team.)

Enter Groupon and their initial public offering (IPO) last year. [click to continue…]


I’ve missed you

December 31, 2011

Remember me? I used to blog in this space regularly — about once a week — but then work become quite busy and something had to give. But that big project — stopping AT&T’s ill-conceived proposed takeover of T-Mobile — is behind me. Thank goodness. (And the good news is, we won!) I surely learned […]

Read the full article →

Spoon Feeding

October 25, 2011

I don’t like spoon feeding reporters, but it seems more and more, journalists under deadline pressure expect it. They want PR people to summarize, boil things down, give them a sound bite, write out the headline and keep it simple, stupid. I can certainly do that — but at some point, the journalist has to […]

Read the full article →

The Elephant in the Room

August 7, 2011

Last month I made my first trip to Africa — I went on a safari in Northern Tanzania. It’s a breathtaking landscape and the wildlife is unbelievable abundant. (I loved it so much, I’m planning my return for next year. If you have the opportunity to go, don’t hesitate.) One of the most impressive encounters […]

Read the full article →

The Park Police’s Footloose PR Problem

June 4, 2011

There’s a dance party going on at the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C. today. Over 3,000 people RSVPed on Facebook saying they would show up and start silently dancing. The flashmob is to protest the U.S. Park Police’s ban on dancing inside the memorial. That’s right, the U.S. Park Police has a ban on dancing […]

Read the full article →