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Corporate Communications and IT: How to Manage the Relationship
Using video and social media is becoming a core competency for all companies spanning the entire organization—including customer service, training, marketing, product development, and most of all, corporate communications.
In fact, corporate communications is highly dependent on access to social media and video. Research suggests that dependence will only increase in the years to come. As a result, having an IT infrastructure that successfully integrates video and social media into workflows is critical for organizations.
But here’s the rub. Many employees feel that they can do this easily at home, why is their company so far behind that they can’t successfully make any given tool work on the job? The simple fact is that employee expectations for IT are being set by their consumer experiences of technology. Consumer expectations are not realistic for the workplace because they don’t consider the additional essential elements required for most corporations to function, including security, reliability and, most of all, integration. These are criteria that consumer applications just don’t have to take into account.
The key to success is seamlessly integrating infrastructure and applications.
Integrating infrastructure and applications will take a new level of collaboration between IT and corporate communications departments. For starters, both departments need to understand what the other is up against.
IT has the responsibility to keep running smoothly all the processes, applications, and infrastructure, including those that may have been started long before Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was born. To accomplish this shift, corporate communications and IT teams have to broker needs across all departments and deliver payback on projects and technologies that are evolving at head-spinning speed. Adding video and social media into the mix can bring even a fairly robust network to its knees. And that’s before someone asks if they can review video footage on their iPhone.
From the corporate communications point of view, IT folks need to realize that corporate communications folks are managing more platforms for messaging than ever before—and new ones are popping up daily. External communications include an infinite number of social media platforms that have to be scanned regularly and require management and analytic tools. Since most of the content in communications occurs non-verbally, video use is going to expand as people demand more context to their messages than text alone can provide—not only to tamp down the propensity of social media to make the smallest issue into a communications crisis in a nanosecond.
Here are some best practices to consider to bridge the gap:
Create a new definition of ‘hero’ for your organization. Redefine it as someone who avoids a crisis by planning well and anticipating problems. Start this by making a schedule for writing, shooting, editing, and social media posting for regular work, and establish a process for handling extraordinary circumstances. By doing this, you will have a strategy to address a crisis—before one occurs.
Plan for addressing a crisis before one occurs. Work together to keeps IT informed of changes as early as possible, and vice versa. Define and reward an outstanding job as one where exceptions are rare and they are handled with limited drama.
Assume that internal websites (intranet and other application sites) will need the same support as external sites, if not more. This includes content management systems, video content management and distribution, and social media—all have which have external IT requirements. Also, don’t assume that the external sites will have the heaviest traffic, for that will depend on the type of business you are running, and its sales and news cycles. For example, a media company will have to handle extreme spikes in external traffic and user behavior, but can plan for limited internal spikes. Industrial products companies, however, will likely have the opposite cycle.
Work across business departments to help with IT planning. And don’t depend on IT exclusively to identify these needs, or understand common interests. Better planning and implementations come from a cooperative model that highlights common, cross-organizational interests and needs. Show leadership by identifying those common needs rather than fighting over limited resources. For example, if multiple departments are anticipating ramping up video use, it may be easier to build a cross-departmental case to get the network improvement project moved up in priority.
The bottom line. While these suggestions may seem simple, they may not be easy changes to make. However, from experience, I can attest that they are more than worth it because once instituted, the payback will be substantial.
By Guest Blogger, Deborah Brozina, management consultant
Deborah is a management consultant specializing in digital strategy, content creation, and technology management. She was working in social media before Mark Zuckerberg entered grammar school and ‘social media’ had a name. Her first job out of college was to take a relationship pricing application for a leading commercial bank out of beta. One of her recent jobs was developing the online video strategy for a leading publisher and getting payback within 18 months. Deborah’s clients include firms such as Time Inc., McGraw-Hill, The Economist Group, and JPMorgan Chase.
contact: Deborah Brozina phone: 212.979.8030 email: DEBrozina@making-change.net