Some people have all the fun

Full Service Digital Agencies. There are a lot of you out there and I’m sure I’ve heard from most of you in the last 4 or 5 years. There’s nothing you can’t do, you are full service after all.

So my question, and why I find it hard to find a reason to use many of you is, if you’re doing everything, where on earth is the fun for me?

Digital natives? Perhaps.

Let’s do some myth busting.

A trip to Amsterdam* means that I’m going to miss a Grant Thornton Executive networking event on social media tonight.

The event, put together by some of our Executives and trainees, is further evidence of the importance that we’re placing on understanding social media’s position in the workplace and should find an audience very much in touch with the changing landscape in which we all do business.

However, I think this is a bit of a myth.

The truth is that the partners and senior leaders in our firm will usually make the assumption that those new to the firm or coming up through the ranks are the experts in social media. They use it at school, at university, “they’re on it all the time!” And that is also, usually true.

But I also think that this ‘generation Facebook’ are very much in the same boat as our leaders. Yes they understand the nature of the platforms, but do they always make the connection between them and the workplace? I don’t know. What I do know is that we in communications and HR spend a lot if time talking about what this generation needs, that they want to work differently and won’t accept a world of Blackberries and email.

So that’s the question I put to tonight’s organisers – the business makes these assumptions about you, are we right to?

The landscape is still shifting, but some of our most active and connected users of social media for business are our partners and managers and their success stories with these channels are coming thick and fast.

From induction to retirement we should be helping our people to understand all aspects of social media and work, and something like reverse mentoring can help us get there.

However, we shouldn’t make assumptions about where our mentors sit in the business. Where social media is concerned, we all have lessons to learn.

Are we expecting too much from this generation? Should we make anything of the rise in popularity of LinkedIn among graduates? Is this just them conforming to a platform which sets itself up as THE business social network?

Interested to hear thoughts.

* I’m flying to Amsterdam this afternoon for HRTech Europe where I’m lucky enough to be speaking on Friday. Come along if you’re there and find out why we try to always put people before technology (but make great effort to ensure the technology fits, and works!).

Digital landscape is just the landscape.

I’m often asked about the competitive landscape for Grant Thornton when it comes to digital and social communications and my response is usually along these lines.

There are a lot of smart people out there doing some really smart, but relatively isolated things across many online channels in professional services, but is anyone really taking a lead?

This week a lot of us will have read the ‘memo to staff’ sent by Lionel Barber to staff of the FT, outlining next steps in their “digital first” strategy. This will be widely read as the last significant step that the FT needs to take to becoming a “digital only” publication and for me, points much more closely to where organisations such as the one I work for should be looking to get their inspiration from.

http://aboutus.ft.com/2013/10/09/lionel-barber-memo-to-staff-on-reshaping-the-newspaper-for-the-digital-age/

Clearly we’re a different type of organisation altogether, but the bulk of his memo talks about changes to working practices, how articles and thought leadership pieces will be planned, less reactive – more focus on the landscape and trends. Most strikingly there is a very bold, if you’re not ‘in’ then perhaps it’s time you started to think about your career at the FT message which almost had me fist pumping!

It’s a mind shift before it’s a habit shift and this sort of message from senior leadership will focus minds and attention on a potential prize that can no longer be ignored.

As Lionel says, “This is no time to stand still.” You may not see a reason to change your habits yet, but you’d better understand that big organisations are changing the landscape even if your closest competitors aren’t just yet.

Eight behaviours for a modern digital comms team

Very useful and pertinent to a conversation I had yesterday. Thought it well worth posting here.

Clear message

There’s plenty out there about the skills and functions that a digital comms team need to have. I’ve learnt, somewhat painfully, that the behaviours and mindset are probably more important.

If I could turn the clock back a few years, here’s the behaviours I would encourage from day one. They’re in no particular order.

De-geekify

Focus on audiences, content and using the tools and platforms they prefer. Try and identify examples of where your colleagues and their audiences are already using digital, rather than blind people with jargon and process.

Identify the Hey Martha!

Journalists on the Sunday Times used to (and may still) refer to ‘Hey Martha!’: a nugget of random, but interesting information that would cause the reader to exclaim ‘Hey Martha, listen to this!”. I love this moment in a digital communications team. Hidden pieces of great work that the originator thought were simply routine. Sometimes these…

View original post 321 more words

The changing role of the internal communicator

The last seven days have been hectic. An unconference, a forum meeting, a networking dinner, an interview in The Times, an amazing gig and….oh yeah, sign off on the huge Enterprise Social Network project me and the team have been working on for the whole of our lives. So in the calm before the implementation storm, some thoughts on the week’s major theme; the changing role of the internal communicator.

Communications? PR? Marketing? – we need to be able to wear all three hats, or at least be able to walk in all three pairs of shoes.

Comfortable behind our desks – we can’t continue to expect people to come to us. We need to be out there making change happen, visible and essential. In our rush for a seat at the table, we have to leave our own seat behind once in a while.

Embrace your marketing colleagues – there was a recurring theme at ‘The big Yak’ of marketing being the competition. “They have the biggest budget”, “They have more sway”. Marketing people are people too – talk to them, learn from them, work with them not against them. There’s an immediacy to marketing because they understand the link between what they do and the bottom line. Maybe that’s not as tangible to some of us in Comms.

Making comms ‘sexy’ again – Marketing is ‘sexy’ because they make it so. Networking, dinners, awards, events, clients. We have those things too people!

Socialising the workplace – the emergent role of the social business manager. Doing this right means the marrying together of all the above and understanding that ‘social’ and ‘digital’ are just words. Communicate the business benefit of an ESN (Enterprise Social Network) or a simple Twitter feed, show people what’s in it for them, and don’t expect it to be easy!

Community – two elements to this. 1) Community Management – understand what this means to your business and to you. The tools we now have at our disposal are changing this from a little bit of what we all do, to the be all and end all. 2) You’re not alone. There’s a growing, engaged community of practitioners out there to learn from and who want to learn from you. Follow @theICcrowd for a start and switch on to a whole bunch of people walking in your shoes.

Finally, and this may be just me, but having been the quiet ones (all things are relative…) in the corner, suddenly the ‘digital’ part of Grant Thornton’s Comms team is going to be awfully noisy from now on. ESN signed off and social business hats pulled tightly on, call it what you want but the ‘digi’ boys and girls are coming!!!

What changes do you see coming over the horizon for communicators?

The importance of a comfortable chair

20121004-115554.jpg
Sometimes the hardest thing about my job is the chair that I sit in.

It’s a good chair, in fact, it’s a super duper fancy chair for tall people with dodgy backs. It tips, it spins, swivels, supports. It even has an amusing hand pump that looks like a lemon.

The problem is that more often than not, it needs little adjustments or seems to be in the wrong place. It’s not always quite close enough to the marketing team, or HR, or IS. It can usually be found within the Comms team, but has been known to tilt and bend towards social media, digital, PR, intranet, KM, coaching and consultancy. Sometimes I wonder if it’s not suffering from a bit of an identity crisis!

So it’s a good job that no matter where it sits, it is usually comfortable and if not, can be tweaked until it is.

It’s also a good job that it has wheels.