For Truly Revolutionary Silo-Busting, Break Down the Wall Between PR & IT


As a communications professional, I find myself in a constant daze when it comes to discussions, threads and trends when the subject is the digital landscape.

The irony for me is that after a 15-year career where I felt as if I had a decent handle on the craft of communications, I admit I sometimes know very little about certain parts of the tech side of the equation.

We most often hear about updates to the hardware and software platforms we depend on through a product launch, some early buzz about the next iPhone, updates to the Microsoft Office suite or early leaked photos and video of Snap spectacles. And no matter how many blogs, Twitter handles or newsletters you follow, it seems we are more often than not part of the consumer pool, hearing about these new things as they launch. We’re then left scrambling to adjust our strategies and skill mixes to adapt and adopt so as to not be left behind.

Communications vs IT?

I often find myself thinking, why—as we approach 2017—is it still the case in so many organizations that it is “us and them” when it comes to communications and IT?

Think about it. Name a scenario as a professional communicator where your strategy or tactics are independent on some level of a technology solution. Website? Yep, you need some tech for that. Social media presence? Yep. You need some tech for that. PowerPoint deck? Yep, you need some tech for that. Video streaming? You get the point.

Now more than ever, our craft hinges on our ability to access and better understand the smartphone in our pocket, the tablet on our table, the very laptop in which I am creating this essay—and all of the apps and programs on them and how they function most effectively.

If you channel your inner Neo and strip things down to the 1’s and 0’s of The Matrix, it does really come down to a major tech dependency by professional communicators. And it’s not a cliché or a clever quip of “I’d die without my (insert device/app name here),”it’s fact.

And it’s not just the next social media platform, or “what’s hot” item such as virtual reality, augmented reality, or artificial intelligence that we need to be better versed in.

A New Way of Thinking

We need to take a pause and really rethink some of the fundamental communications and IT roles. Rethink the paradigms of “us and them,” the very way we approach our craft. In addition, we should rethink the skills that we recruit, train and retain on our teams. The fundamentals that communications is about well-written content and IT is based on a stable network need to be seriously rethought.

An age-old challenge for professional communicators has been to prove the ROI of the function. What if instead of focusing on our outputs and actions, or our desires to be viewed as strategic partners rather than service providers, we truly engaged in the digital revolution as thought leaders rather than recipients?

The Nexus of Communications and IT

What if we identified early and often the opportunities at the communications and IT nexus that could shape the next killer app, rather than how to use that app once it arrives?

I am unsure what we’ll find when we ask these questions. Fortunately, I find myself in an organization where communications and IT now share a spot on the org chart. On the other hand, I believe there’s a powerful advantage to be found in what we are learning about each other’s skills, priorities and challenges. This knowledge will shape what we are able to do for our company and augment our ability to prove our ROI.

But I also believe there is something bigger. It’s something that can benefit the broader craft. Something that each of us brings to the table. So much is possible beyond what we have seen and done before if we dive in and ask, “What if we team up and do things a little differently next time?”

What if indeed….


Editor’s Note:Kevin Kautzky and Greg Kunkel of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory will be speaking at PR News’ Social Media Conference Oct. 20 in NYC. For more information:

Note to Subscribers: We will be featuring the org chart showing the communications and IT units’ placement within the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s structure in an upcoming edition of PR News Pro. After that it will reside at the PR News Pro Essentials Page: pro-essentials/

Editor's Note: Kautzky will speak at PR News' Social Media Conference, Oct. 20, in NYC. Click here for more information.

This content appeared originally in PR News Pro, October, 10, 2016. For subscription information, please visit: