I was fortunate to be among the panelists in a recent CableFAX webinar. The subject was digital
communications and, as was the case with my recent PR News webinar, the topics ranged from best practices and budget spends to lessons learned and ‘digital ownership’ within the organization.
CableFAX leveraged the webinar to release the findings of an industry survey on the subject. Interestingly enough, the results were almost identical to the one we’d conducted six weeks earlier with PR News (note: our sampling of 500 marketing communications respondents represented all sorts of corporations, agencies and non-profits. CableFAX’s reflected opinions from within the cable industry).
CableFAX respondents said digital was still a relatively small part of their overall PR budget (56 percent said it accounted for between 11 and 25 percent of the total). Less than one-quarter expected the budget to increase slightly in the next year. The remainder saw little or no budget increase whatsoever for digital.
That said, forty-four percent of respondents believe their digital efforts to date have been somewhat or moderately successful. And, a whopping 58 percent identified a ‘lack of funds’ as the number one hurdle to advancing digital’s use within their organization.
During the webinar discussion, my fellow panelists
agreed digital’s adoption is being slowed by a gap between marketing
and the C-suite. The latter are wary of the loss of control that goes
along with Web 2.0 initiatives. They also don’t see an immediate
cost/benefit ratio. And, as we know, chief legal counsels are loath to
allow any sort of unapproved, legally questionable verbiage to appear
anywhere, so digital literally scares them to death.
So, what’s a poor cable marketer to do? Education is the solution. We
must carefully craft a message to the C-suite that includes the
– Digital is here to stay, so let’s figure out a way to engage in the conversation.
– Competitors will outflank us if we aren’t quick to act.
– We can learn from others’ mistakes and enact a ‘best practices’ digital campaign of our own.
– We can ‘beta test’ whatever digital initiative we like BEFORE ever ‘turning on the switch’ to the outside world.
There’s a huge gap that exists in most organization that we, in public
relations, are uniquely qualified to fill. The time to act, though, is
now. If we don’t, some other discipline will not only ‘own’ digital,
they’ll ‘own’ the C-suite relationship.