During my 31-year career at eight technology companies I have tried to be a strategist, tactician, advisor and mentor. To be a service across an organization requires not only an understanding of the business but also relationships with colleagues across subsidiaries.
Think of it like the FBI that crosses boundaries, only in this case instead of investigating crimes, you make connections, understand the personalities and processes of groups, share knowledge and determine how to make you and your colleagues successful.
As I moved from one company to another, I added expertise in PR, multimedia writing, events, marketing materials and programs and digital communication. As my capabilities grew so did my value inside and outside my department as I progressed from reporting to marketing executives to business executives.
GROW YOUR EXPERTISE PORTFOLIO
Five years ago, I had no idea how important social media would become, but I began tweeting and posting to LinkedIn to learn about it. Today, I share major announcements and articles about my company with LinkedIn groups and Twitter. Communicators should serve as content distributors beyond the traditional news wires and media contact lists.
THINK ‘OUTSIDE IN’
While it is easier to track what is happening now than in the pre-digital days, it is more difficult to determine what marketing levers to pull when given all the options.
I came to IDG Communications, where I have worked since 2003, with an understanding of its tech-marketing customers because I was one of them for 20 years. It was an advantage to bring “outside-in thinking” but now, 10 years removed from the profession, I turn to my sales and marketing colleagues for help:
• To write news release about client agreements
• To nominate customers for the numerous marketing-awards programs
• To place advertisers and colleagues as speakers at media and advertising conferences
• To invite clients to IDG sponsored events
I read dozens of newsletters and websites each day to remain knowledgeable about the technology, marketing and media industries. This all helps with relationship marketing, or, if you prefer, content marketing. It is a focus on how to educate a prospect and become a resource during the buying cycle.
ART AND SCIENCE
Like so many other professions and industries, technology has probably had the greatest impact on both marketers and media companies in recent years. The Web and digital marketing set the stage for an explosion of technologies to:
• Facilitate search engine marketing
• Share multimedia content and comments via social media
• Fuel programmatic buying of defined audiences in split seconds for targeting and program efficiency
• Measure influence, engagement and impact of marketing programs
The debate is heating up about man vs. machine. The systems for generating data are pumping out more information than ever before, but what has not kept up is how to determine what is important and how to respond. The pressure is building for analyzing what the data means, as executives expect both marketing impact and demonstrable business benefits.
Communication is often separated into internal/employee and external/PR silos. That is a mistake. With social channels, any employee can be a marketer and communicator, too. Keeping them informed is as important as external audiences.
Such a strategy also lets a broad internal audience know of marketing accomplishments and their impact on the business. During my career I have found that collaboration across businesses speeds my understanding of:
• Key business issues, competitors and company priorities
• Who the key decision makers are company-wide
• What peers are doing and how we can help each other
What I have described is a prescription for both increased career success and job security. You control your expertise, reputation and network.
Howard Sholkin is director of communications and marketing programs at IDG Global Solutions; @hsholkin. This is the first in a series of articles on how PR executives can play a more integral role in developing and executing integrated communications.