In early 2007, Chris Heuer, Shel Israel, Deb Schultz, Giovanni Rodriguez, and I explored the evolution of social media within the enterprise at an intimate business event in Palo Alto. One of the more memorable discussions focused on the rise of an official role within business to listen to social discourse and channel inbound questions and comments as well as official responses. The question eventually arose, how do we classify this new role within the organization? The designation of “Community Manager” earned the greatest support that day, but it did so with a caveat, “communities, by organic design, could not be managed.”
Every now and again, a PR meme appears on the Web – almost to the point where you could set your watch by it. This time around, Claire Cain Miller of the New York Times sparked the conversation with an in-depth article, “Spinning the Web: P.R. in Silicon Valley.”
I respect Claire and I believe she wrote an extensive article that chronicles the launch of one particular startup and also featured supporting quotes from those PR professionals who are helping to usher in a new breed of corporate communications.
In the era of the “new” social Web, communications is actually evolving back to its origins of communicating with people, not at them. It may seem implied, but communications does not, for the most part, embody two-way discussions.
Over the years, communications has evolved into a one-way distribution channel that broadcasts messages at target audiences. In the process, communications stopped being about communication, focusing instead on the marketing aspects of top-down message push and control, what we now commonly refer to as marketing communications aka marcom. Marcom embodies traditional and new marketing branches that include advertising, PR, Web/interactive, event, among many other disciplines (depending on the organization).