Saturday, October 14, 2006

PR has to manage the board when it comes to social media

Greenfield Says:

When it comes to employee blogging, how much freedom should employees have? Does management really need to know who is blogging, when they are blogging and what they are saying about the company?

In the old days, all corporate communications channels went through the PR department. PR had the messages. PR directed the messengers. Everything was centralized, formalized and contained.

How different is today's world of employee blogging. I don’t have time to monitor what everyone is saying. Employees must find their own individual voice. I may not always be wild about what they might say, but I am confident that the process and the wider community will keep individuals in check. Outrageous statements by renegade employees lose credibility. And personal expression does not mean carte blanche to say anything. Employees are still employees beholden to company policies and codes of conduct.

So as we send our employees out into the blogosphere, we need to set the boundaries for engagement and determine our level of comfort for transparency and candor. Should employees who talk about your company go through formal training? Should they use the same templates? Should their comments be approved beforehand? Should we dictate what they say?

He is, of course wrong. 'In the old days' employees went down to the pub and had a good bitch just after work. Now they do it online. Now managers have to take note and a good job too.

The idea that PR 'controlled the message is also false. We used to offer messages but our publics offered their own interpretation (gosh! Sentient journalists... wow!).

If an organisation is well managed and employees know what its values are, then there is little to fear but if not the PR Director needs to get hold of the Board by the scruff of their combined necks and give them a good shake.

Why? Because, you can't stop the conversation.