How To Be Culturally Ready for Social

Marc Monseau
Marc Monseau
Every day we are reminded of how digital communications platforms, including social networks, have changed how people interact with each other and how they expect companies to interact with them.

Success, as study after study has shown, depends on whether companies not only understand these trends, but also how to effectively use different digital platforms.

One such study, titled “The Economics of the Socially Engaged Enterprise,” compiled by the Economist Intelligence unit and PulsePoint Group, found companies that fully embrace social engagement are experiencing four times greater positive business results than those that are less engaged.

Yet ensuring companies not only know what needs to be done, but are culturally ready to support digital communications, isn’t easy.

PR professionals have a unique skill set, from experience with stakeholder relationship management to internal and external communications, that can not only help organizations find their digital footing, but also to make the cultural changes needed to keep them one step ahead of the competition.

In all of this, you, as a PR professional, can play a key role. Drawing upon experiences in coordinating strategic communications, you can help ensure consistency across multiple external touchpoints.

Through a blend of education and the execution of proof-of-principle concepts, you can also create cultural readiness.

There are many different tactics that you can use to accomplish this, but below are six key approaches to consider:

 Gain senior management support: You can (and should) help your leadership team become more digitally savvy to better understand the impact these technologies have on society and your industry. Consider providing regular digital updates at executive leadership meetings or holding an immersion day that brings outside thinking into your organization to provide insights into how technology is being used to build and expand businesses.

Befriend Legal: Having worked with different regulated companies, I’ve found that legal and regulatory are often unfairly blamed for the lack of innovative communications. Rather than view legal as a hurdle, you should partner with your legal colleagues.

Create policies and procedures: For many companies, and, in particular, regulated industries, established policies may limit the ability to communicate using social and digital channels. Benchmark with other companies to understand their approaches and to get a clear idea of what has triggered regulatory action in the past.

Raise Awareness of Your Social Presence: Track and monitor the conversation about your business, creating reports covering the volume, sentiment and topics covered. Share these reports with the key internal stakeholders to help them understand what is being said and how those conversations impact your organization.

Demonstrate Value: Take on a small project that you can control that has a meaningful business objective and where the results can be measured. As the project evolves, share the results with internal stakeholders to help them better understand the value that such projects can have to the organization. Celebrate success broadly with your internal audiences to encourage others.

Create a Sandbox for Experimentation: Establish a safe place where employees can use and experiment with social media tools to support the business. For instance, there are a variety of collaboration tools that can be used to solicit new ideas from employees. By employing such tools, you can help raise the organizational readiness of your company by demonstrating how social technologies can help make the business more efficient.

These are just a few of the things that you, as a PR professional, can execute within your organization to help them become culturally ready to be more socially-engaged. By drawing upon experience in internal and external communications, stakeholder management and a knowledge of new communications trends, you can help lead the charge to effectively compete in the new online relationship-driven world. PR


Marc Monseau is managing partners of mintcollective and former director of corporate communications and social media at Johnson & Johnson, @mdmonseau.