Enrol the C-Suite in Social Media

Isn't life easier in a company when the senior leadership is supportive of the plan? My point here is that when you enrol the C-Suite in social media, the job of the communicator is almost free of hassles.  Once the c-suite sees the tremendous value and impact for their business, they will ensure that there are appropriate resources to deploy these strategic communication tools. Public Relations and social media together can have a tremendous impact on a brand or company profile. After all, they are in charge of the art of communication.

Shout to Seneca College Public Relations

I had the pleasure of speaking with the Seneca Media classes February 13th. They are graduate students in pursuit of a certificate in Public Relations and Social Media. These are the communicators of our future. I was stressing the importance of social media and public relations teams, within an organization, to ensure that the senior leadership embraces the power of their work.

The headlines of my presentation were intended to provide some coaching to these up and coming professionals. I suggested some ways of they might successfully enrol and engage senior leaders in their company, with social media and public relations. Social media and public relations should be regarded as valued practices and assets within the marketing mix.

CEO Support a Clincher

If you can become top of mind with the CEO or head of a business, your work will be that much easier. With a CEO supportive of social media and public relations in the mix, the rest of management and the organization will quickly align. CEO's that value the impact of social media and public relations are no doubt witnessing strong consumer relations and enhanced brand loyalty. CEO's that take an active role in social networks themselves will experience the power of these networks. We know from the latest Signal Communication Leadership CEO index that Canadian CEO's are really just beginning to embrace the networks, let alone the value. The goods news is that the communications team can coach and counsel members of the leadership team to impactful social networking for the business.

A Senior Leader "sponsor"

A senior leader within the organization, leading the department that houses social media and PR, will also make a huge difference. A strong voice fighting for inclusion of social and PR, will help entrench the agenda within an organization. This will help raise profile and understanding throughout an organization. Social media and PR cannot be seen as add-ons. They cannot be there only in case of emergency. They must be seen and utilized as communication assets ongoing entrenched in the sales and marketing strategies.

Strategic Benefit Understood

Some might view social as tactical. I view it as strategically tactical. Social Media and Public Relations must be seen and understood as strategic, within the communications strategy of a brand and business.

Perhaps it is core to the brand's voice in the market.

Perhaps it is critical in leading, protecting and reinforcing corporate reputation.

Perhaps it is a critical channel with which to support direct to consumer relations.

Or, all three of the areas of brand and business strength can be supported by a strategic plan in social media and public relations. The wonderful world of social media has so many analytics available now. There are rich and robust data and tracking platforms. This is not a subjective call.  Communicators; you can prove yourself with objective analytic proof. Go for it!

Social Role Defined and Supported

Social Media needs to have a clear role in the mix of marketing and sales. It can play a clear role, as the voice and face of a brand and business. Once that role is defined, the business must then invest in the assets; like they invest in other media assets. Social media voice is as important as an advertising buy. View it as "media", just as you would view print, television, radio, outdoor and in the home. It is "media" - be sure that its role is defined and supported.

Part of the Marketing Mix

Social media deserves a box on the checklist, like all other aspects and elements of the marketing mix. Social media can play a critical and leading role in Product - Place - Price and Promotion. Don't let social media become that eleventh-hour consideration. Don't let social media only become important when that negative tweet is thrown your way and someone happens to stumble across it. Put effective monitoring and listening in place. Lead the conversation for the brand and business in social networks. That clearly puts social media and PR in play, as part of the marketing mix.

Keep it Top of Mind

PR folks need to practice what they preach. PR folks need to tell their story, show the results internally, build alliances, create stories of success and show the value that they bring to the brand and organization. The marketing folks will showcase their new ads. The sales folks will highlight sales. The supply chain team will show the new innovations. Step it up communicators! By showing your accomplishments you will be sure to have continued investment and belief in your efforts.

Wrap Up

If these variables are taken seriously, I truly believe that you will find those senior leaders in your organization and the C-Suite value social media. You will be demonstrating impact and value in the mix of the business.

Wishing communicators of the future much success. C-Suite executives...be proud and glad you have them.

Cheers !  @FergDevins @DevinsNetwork


Confront Confrontation

Arising Confrontation

Have you been nagged by a follower? 

Has someone posted something that you disagree with?

Is there a comment posted in a journalist's article that is just not factually correct?

Has someone spread something in social networks that is just not true?

Opportunities for Confronting Confrontation

Ok...this happens each and every day - particularly given the wide open gates of social media when everyone can express themselves where and when they choose. Personal opinion once expressed over dinner, at a bar or during a coffee break are now literally surfacing in "posts" all across the social networks.

This new reality does not mean that people have license to spread untruths. The reality is that these posts are surfacing everywhere. Being aware of this is an opening to ensure that there is lively debate, that the truth gets told, and that those who are not stating facts can be scrutinized and reigned in.

I'm not referring to differing perspectives and debate...let those colourful conversations continue. I am referring to posts by people that are just opinion and in many cases are not fact based or true. I am also referring to the angry customer that posts some scathing remark about a  brand or service, and is left unchecked.

Why should someone making a negative statement about you, your brand or your cause go unchecked ?

Get into the Conversation

In these situations I highly recommend that you confront the confrontation. What have you got to lose?  What you have to lose is that, if you do not confront the confrontation or "mistruths", these perceptions and opinions become the new reality and the misperceived truth...replacing fact. Remember the old cliche that perception is reality. Who's leading the perception ? The non factualy story tellers or the defenders of truth?

Don't be shy. In a world of social media the truth should stand out above and beyond all emotional opinion because it is fact based and not just a stance that someone with an opposing view decides to place in social media. Get into the conversation.

In my experience I have found that in most instances when you confront the confrontation you are most likely to see a negative comment move towards neutral - a neutral comment become more favourable - and a positive comment become even more positive.

Let's also remember that "social media" is stronger when there is actually dialogue and conversation. It's not just a broadcast network, it offers dialogue.

I have had many new opportunities for dialogue to arise when I have stepped into the conversation where I have taken a position to confront the confrontation.

Give it a try and let me know how you make out.

Cheers !  FERG @FergDevins @DevinsNetwork

Reporting Structure

In the wonderful evolving world of communications, I continue to bump into the question of "Where do PR and Social Media report to?".

Is there an ideal reporting structure ? Hmmm...

It is obvious to me that there are many sides to this question or debate. Marketers will tend to think that PR should be reporting into Marketing, given that it so tightly connected to all that is marketing. Communications folks tend to believe that PR is worthy of its own department and oversight. Corporate Affairs or Public Affairs folk tend to believe that communications is something that is best housed in their groups.  CEO's tend to take guidance from those of influence within their organizations at the management team table. In that regard the communicators may even been affected by a strong Human Resources lead that sees communications as a critical plank in communicating with employees internally.

Marketing ?

If the company is one that is heavily brand oriented with little or no corporate work, I might be convinced of having PR and communications report into Marketing. However - beware of the often overlooked crisis or corporate communications situation that must be managed from a corporate voice and perspective rather than a marketer's thinking. I have also seen companies who have chosen to put PR and Social Media into the marketing structure - while maintaining a separate group or individual to look after the strictly corporate mandate of corporate reputation, annual general meetings, support for investor relations on quarterly reporting, support for employee communications. What's nice about PR and Social being "marketing public relations" is that it sits next to the decision makers in brand and has access to the marketing budgets. When sitting over in Corporate Affairs, there is a constant pitch scenario to be included in the brand's brainstorming and plan development. Sitting inside marketing creates stronger brand alignment.

Public Affairs ?

I do strong believe in public affairs or corporate affairs as a department or function within a consumer or packaged goods company. There will always be corporate reputation to be handled and managed. There will be "situations" (not to call them crisis...but stuff will happen) that needs to be managed from a trained corporate perspective. There will even be those situations that arise over in marketing that actually will require the "corporate perspective" on how to deal with communications. It will be over and above what the marketing PR lead might have built for the purer marketing story.

Management Table ?

Another persisting challenge for the communications and PR folks in an organization is to have access to the most senior influencers in the organization. This can be complicated by reporting structure. How many times have you heard about PR being called at the eleventh hour?  How many times have PR folks complained that "if I 0nly had been brought in at concept...I would have been able to have done a much more thorough job". I was fortunate in my career at Molson Coors to have sat at the management table. I was also fortunate over the years to have had terrific CEO's that "got" PR and would ensure that I had been engaged on issues and opportunities that were arising. My point here is, the actually "seat" at the table is less important. The real need is access to the most senior folks. This access allows you to be briefed, be respected and to provide the support to the organization that communicators are trained to provide. Don't sweat the politics of having the seat or not...make sure that you have the access and respect to be called upon and engaged when you as a communicator know you need to be involved.

Securing Budget ?

Every business is constrained today. What was traditional business continues to be challenged by on line platforms and competition and the "buy local" movement continues to grow. Social media and word of mouth marketing help get brands closer to consumers. Resources for communicators need to be allocated and protected to ensure that this high touch with consumers and stakeholders can be maintained. Set aside budget for managing and building corporate reputation. It is important for your business to be conducting media relations, social media monitoring, and stakeholder outreach. PR for brand initiatives needs to be budgeted accordingly...do not scrimp ! Flag a contingency for situations that may arise and be willing to fund your social and PR teams appropriately in the moment to mitigate reputational damage.

In summary...

So...where do PR and Social Media report to ? Reporting structure will depend on needs of the organization. Have communicators report where they will have the most benefit "in the moment" for the organization. Support your communicators with appropriate budget. Give them access to the senior most decision makers so that they are aware of issues and opportunities that are the horizon so that they can support the organization and brand in it's critical time of need.

A communications team that knows it is respected, valued, supported and resourced in an organization will truly make a difference. Reporting structure won't get in the way of making things happen. @FergDevins  @DevinsNetwork

New look Devins Network

The Devins Network will be showing up with a new look from today forward, but we are still in pursuit of the same conversations. After conferring with a couple of friends, I felt that it was time to do a bit of a refresh on design and utility of thedevinsnetwork.ca. I do want to thank Stacey Hood who was there with me from day one, in December 2013, on creating my first site. I'm now working with the terrific creative team and friends at JIB who have been great counsel on this new site. Nothing like a great "back of the house" support team.

Getting in the groove...

The basis of this site is really to be in communication, conversations and dialogue on a number of areas that are of interest to me and my clients and prospective clients. Thus the "blog like" feel of the front page.

After 30 years in the beer business in roles of PR, Marketing, Sales, Employee Communications, Crisis Communications, Government Relations, Social Media, Community Relations, Industry Affairs I have found it challenging to "choose one area of focus" and trod forward. I have been delighted with the inquiries and the work that my associates and I have worked on over the past sixteen months. It has been a truly varied bucket of opportunity, challenges, learning and experience.

Strategically Tactical Conversations...

I've met with CEO's and CMO's on social strategy, small businesses on the importance of a social media presence, Kenora Rotary on "social networking", prospective clients in "strategically tactical conversations" related to their issues, brand teams on PR / social integration, transformational work related to a national supply chain, fresh out of school graduates on their future pursuits, individual entrepreneurs on how to build their own brand presence, elected officials on managing the diverse mix of comms in their world, major brands on possible tools in their communications tool kit, on line educators, start ups seeking opportunities with business, Re-Shift media and their unique "Social Brand Amplifier" model for Facebook, Trespass Apparel and their adventures in Canada, industry associations in navigating government affairs, the @ConeyMusicFest now in its seventh "maybe annual year", Bladder Cancer Canada, Integram Marketing, Filmmaker Billie Mintz @Imagin8r, and even Hockey Canada and the team at "InMarket" and their spectacular #CenturyTour #TourneeDuCentenaire caravan that has criss crossed the country the past eleven months.


I have also maintained involvement in a few "charities and not for profit" organizations where I strive to provide strategic counsel and support and learn lots through my participation with them and the wonderful array of community leaders who have chosen to make a difference. Proud to support our associate Helena Devins and the work that she has done with Making Waves Ottawa.

With thanks to...

A shout out and thanks to the folks at NATIONAL Public Relations and Capital Hill Group for their kind offer of "office space and facilities" as I have settled into the virtual office world. I have also had the pleasure of enrolling in a number of the programs, webinars, workshops and discussion forums hosted and led by @ChrisBrogan and @RobHatch. These guys just sing from a similar song sheet and have been an inspiration and provided many provoking thoughts on my journey as an entrepreneur.

Special thanks to the team of associates that have delivered such a great first year for the Devins Network. You are awesome Charlotte, JP, Helena, Clark, Bradley, Dea, James and Beth.

Let's start a conversation...

The Devins Network Inc. continues to take on communications challenges that you might be facing for your business, brand, organization, community or not for profit. Our client range is wide, from complex multi national marketers to the entrepreneur or a student looking to pursue a first rung of a career ladder. The Devins Network looks forward to engaging with you in a strategically tactical conversation that is focused on reaching your goals and aspirations. Cheers ! I look forward to our conversation. @FergDevins @DevinsNetwork