Neville wrote today about how time for strategy and planning is a luxury that marcom people can no longer afford.
The reason why time is a delusional luxury is because by the time you've strategized, formulated and executed, you're too late - other, more nimble, people will have got the news or information you're carefully controlling already out there, free and uncontrolled.
Neville has it absolutely right in that control is gone. However, I still believe you have to take some time to put together the story of the company and its products. You still have to come up with the positioning and differentiators. You still need a message framework. And that work takes time. We have a process in place to develop that message framework, but I still need at least a week or two to do it, then get buy in. The bigger the organization, the longer it takes. However, I think that is very speedy, honestly.
You need a message framework, a way to tell the story of the company consistently even today, because formal marketing/communications tools and methods are still valuable. The press kit, brochures, data sheets, annual reports, the website, etc. etc. All of these things should still reflect a consistent, powerful story for the organization.
But, and here is where it gets tricky, you also have to embrace informal communications tools as well, and engage in conversations with your publics (customers, press, influences of every type) in an authentic, non-controlling way (but still has consistency with your organization's overall story, which is why building a framework is important). Using these tools requires fast, spontaneous response, with no luxury of days/weeks of consideration. And, importantly, if the feedback you are getting through these conversations means you have to change your message framework, your formal story, then you better do it, and fast.
All of this means that the professional communicator's job is getting more and more challenging. It is absolutely critical that you understand how to use these new informal tools, as, for one, the feedback loop between them and the formal tactics is crucial to the success of your company. And you certainly don't want to be in the position that Neville describes:
I had a conversation recently with the CEO of a medium-size publicly-held international company here in Amsterdam. He was wondering why it is that he seems to have more insight than his company's PR or marketing people on how technology tools can help his company better communicate and develop interactive relationships with his audiences, and do it faster. We talked about blogs, wikis, RSS, instant messaging, you name it - all among the channels that might be right for his company as the communication means unto the business end. He commented that he seems to be the one coming up with new ideas and thinking all the time, and faster.