Beyond marketing: interactive corporate communication

[Posted by Steven Noble]

Marketing is a great place for interactive experts to test their skills and strategies. However, it's far from the only area where digital thinking can have a huge impact. Whether to grow your agency or your in-house career, here are a few more opportunities to consider:

  • Interactive internal communication. Attracting, retaining and harnessing skilled staff is one of the largest challenges facing many organisations. Increasingly, internal communicators are using interactive tools to address these issues. In fact, organisations often experiment with social media for internal communication before they use it externally, because there is no risk of anonymous trouble-making — employees signs into the social application using own network ID. Interactive marketers should take on internal projects if they want a less scary way of proving the power of social media.
  • Interactive supply chain communication. For consumer electronics firms in particular, it can be incredibly slow and expensive to ensure that retailers worldwide understand how to sell your product. Luckily, smart interactive marketers have a solution: web-based training modules that use video, self-assessment and other tools to deliver the message straight to every salesperson.
  • Interactive investor communication. CFOs must ensure that all investors have equal and instant access to market-moving information. Clearly, digital distribution channels have a role to play here, and interactive marketers should step forward to help make this happen. The other big opportunity is the use of visualisation tools, video and online communities to tell an emotional story to investors, beyond the endless facts and figures.
  • Interactive media relations. The easier you make it for journalists to find your story, your graphics, your stock video and your contact details, the better they'll be able to cover your company. Most online media rooms need a complete revamp, and savvy interactive marketers should be lending a hand.
  • Interactive public affairs. Government, citizens and pressure groups all want to see how your organisation is operating and they all want their say. Smart interactive marketers lend their tools to the cause, helping to lower the barriers between the organisation and the public.

All these areas would benefit from the input of interactive marketers. However, each of these is grounded in quite different assumptions to the four Ps of marketing. Moving beyond marketing is a tremendous opportunity for interactive experts who want to grow their agencies or the in-house careers. However, first they must immerse themselves in the complex business issues that motivate everyone from the CFO to the director of human resources.



re: Beyond marketing: interactive corporate communication

Steven, this is a particularly insightful post. From where I sit (which is too often at my desk) if feels like we have a business world divided between Interactives and Others. And I'm not sure we're gaining more Interactives on our team in 2008. Hopefully I'm wrong.Tom Pick wrote recently that "the practice of PR has changed more in the last five years than it did in the previous fifty.... PR practitioners can no longer practice 'microphone PR,' which, as the term implies, is about one-way, one-to-many communication controlled by the PR person..."I think his view jives with yours, and is absolutely dead right.I can also think of a dozen colleagues doing corporate PR who can't imagine giving up the microphone.How hard is it to break the habit of "microphone PR"?I'd offer that it's maybe not so hard if...... Interactive PR efforts are implemented by a person with good table manners. A GenX or GenY professional may be the best person to help a company learn the etiquette of posting in others' forums and creating its own. Etiquette is a very big deal - at least as important as the content communicated.... Interactive PR efforts spring from an overall committment to trust-based marketing. Meaning, a committment to investment in dialogue and relationships with key audiences.... So-called 'microphone PR' efforts in past were, blessedly, not as they appeared. If, all along, you or your PR consultant have sought feedback from analysts and reporters before issuing news over the wires, you've been investing in exactly the right thing: dialogues and relationships. Your techniques have generally meant behind-the-scenes email and phone conversations and, when needed, group editorial board meetings. Social media opens myriad ways to expand this conversation to engage more thought leaders.Thoughts?

re: Beyond marketing: interactive corporate communication

This is a good observation. At OTOlabs we have traditionally built B2C desktop applications and widgets for Fortune 500 brands; lately though we have had significant interest in BDAs and widgets to support interactive corporate communications. This probably represents the proverbial tip-of-iceberg in that we have not been actively promoting ourselves to this market.

re: Beyond marketing: interactive corporate communication

Rebekah, I agree that the first step towards successful digital PR is embracing the consultative/two-way practices that should -- but don't always -- underline traditional PR. However, the emerging world also throws up some challenges of its own, each requiring new practices, which you also suggest.