Thursday, August 06, 2009

how do you create nexternal relations?

Communicators looking at the changing landscape around them are wondering whether to reorganize or rename some longstanding traditional operations. Should you have media relations when there may not be many mainstream media outlets to whom you're pitching? What are the new capabilities your organization needs to reflect? Folio magazine just published an article on the new and emerging top jobs in publishing (which, now that anyone can publish, may be relevant to your communications operation, too). According to this list, recruiting audiences, ensuring data quality, optimizing your offerings for searches, non-traditional marketing, and expanding the business to related products or services (like conferences) are the tasks most needed. In a communications operation, you also may need to emphasize a function like constituent relations or community outreach more than you might have in the past.

Whatever you do, take the time to think about how you can make your operation what I'd call "nexternal relations" -- focused on external audiences, but poised for what comes next. And I don't just mean now, when you're wondering how to convince your team to use Twitter or have internal struggles over who can use Facebook at work. I mean cultivating an operation that works continually to:
  • connect the dots between and among different types of feedback to determine what you need to change about how you're communicating
  • keep an open mind about new technologies, which will come and go, but takes from them the applications that make most sense to reach your audiences
  • pay attention to audience data of all kinds, to understand where the users are headed, especially since traditional media is no longer shaping those preferences
  • cross-train everyone in everything, to create a base of utility infielders and to smoke out talents and preferences
  • shake up things at least weekly with creative exercises, field trips, guest speakers, new inputs, giving the team a safe environment in which to experiment
What's in your definition of "nexternal relations?" How do you plan to get there?

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