This month we’ll complete a project to kick start digital engagement for a relatively small, but important, organisation. The delivery has involved reviews, planning, strategy, pilot projects and training: I feel like I have spent time with everyone, from the CEO to the newest recruits.
What made this project tempting to us, was the fact it had been commissioned by a team other than communications. This is unusual for us, but very welcome. We’re always keen to work with people who are on the front line, seeking audiences beyond media and wanting to get involved in conversations.
This wasn’t a case of the communications team hogging the sweetie jar, or not being helpful. But the impetus to do more online came from elsewhere in the organisation.
The challenge for an established organisation is that they’re used to channeling conversations, statements, broadcasts and engagement, through the communications team. Typing this blog post as I am (as I would have done years ago when employed by big Government departments) and hitting the publish button of my own accord, has been a completely alien concept for the staff we talk to. Without evidence of regular digital engagement from within the communications team, the rest of the organisation feels a little more nervous.
Digital can, and should, live everywhere in an organisation. But it really helps if the communications team are confident digital practitioners. They should have oversight of the critical messages coming out from any organisation, but they also have a responsibility to disseminate digital engagement, and empower their colleagues.
In the case of our latest project, the communications team became some of our best participants and proved to be fantastically flexible, encouraging and enthusiastic.
I used to think it was all about wresting digital from shrinking communication teams. Now, I’m changing my mind. Organisations need a safe blanket: confident digital communicators who encourage and empower.