May 01

Cable executives struggle with same C-suite fears of digital

I was fortunate to be among the panelists in a recent CableFAX webinar. The subject was digitalCf
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.

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Apr 17

I’ll let my successor deal with this

The most excellent Arthur Page Society Spring Conference was chockablock this year with great speakers.Awp
One, in particular, was Rick DeLisi of the Communications Executive Council (CEC).

Rick analyzed the rapidly-changing landscape and shared his views on how organizations are changing the way they communicate. Most, he said, are moving towards knowledge sharing. It’s no longer a ‘top down, here’s what management thinks and wants you to think’ strategy. Rather, the communications model is quickly evolving towards the market deciding what it thinks and wants, and organizations struggling to keep pace.

The good news: the corporate communications functions will be at the epicenter of facilitating knowledge sharing. The bad news: most corporate communicators interviewed by the CEC admitted they’d made absolutely no change to adapt to this changing environment.

The CEC questionnaire provided multiple choices, including: ‘greater centralization of your function,’ ‘deeper integration in marketing,’ ‘change in hiring profile,’ ‘change in function’s reporting line,’ ‘greater decentralization of communication’s staff and resources,’ or ‘deeper structural integration with human resources.’

But, the corporate communications types overwhelmingly selected ‘no change.’ Are they whistling past the graveyard? Fiddling while Rome burns?

I think the answer may be more basic. Guessing that most senior corporate communicators are well into their middle age, I wonder if they feel adapting to change will be their successor’s headache? Most are nearing retirement, are probably in comfortable positions and may not want to rock the boat.

I really hope I’m wrong. But the CEC findings speak for themselves. Let’s hope for everyone’s sake the respondents’ fast-track successors are as swift as the adjective suggests.

Feb 11

I’m pretty jacked about ‘Jacked up’

Bill Lane’s kiss-and-tell book all about the lunacy and leadership of Jack Welch’s GE is a ‘must read’ forJacked_up_2
anyone in public relations and anyone looking to lead a business.

In essence, the book distills Welch’s methods for not only transforming GE’s business model but, more to the point, how he totally changed the way company executives communicated.

Welch was absolutely ruthless in the way he coaxed, coerced and chastised company leadership as they’d present in front of him. He’d scream, throw papers at them or get up and simply walk out. And, if Jack walked out, the odds were good the presenter would be walking out of GE on a permanent basis.

Jack’s presentation philosophy was as blunt as the man himself: give the audience something they can act on immediately. Don’t bore them with minutia and pie charts. Don’t wax poetic about the time and effort involved in putting the presentation together. And, by all means, DO share best practices fron within and without the company.

Lane goes on and on about Welch’s egomaniacal ways but comes across as pretty self absorbed himself. In fact, the book jacket laughably calls Jacked up ‘…..the only book a leader or aspiring leader will ever need on effective communications.’ It’s excellent but, c’mon Bill, the BEST ever? What would Jack have to say about that?

Nov 09

As written by today’s college graduates, communications are being weakened by a dependence on passivity

The active voice is an endangered species. College kids and recent grads uniformly write in the passiveWriting
voice. And, I’m at a loss as to explain why.

Is it the rise of text messaging? I don’t think so, because text by nature is short and to the point. Is it a lame attempt by kids to complete eight to 10-page-long term papers? Or, is it a misguided attempt to demonstrate intellect?

I wouldn’t mind if passivity wasn’t so pervasive. And, since poorly structured, verbose sentences reflect poorly on the writer, I think the entire topic needs more discussion. I’d invite thoughts from academics, PR professionals and others (med supply execs need not weigh in). I also plan to interview a few experts and post follow-up blogs next week.

In other words, and in the spirit of today’s blog, "…a healthy discussion from which much can be learned would be my goal."

Colter’s corollary:

Passive voice is acceptable or may even be required in sentences where you need to shine the spotlight on a certain word, such as putting a client name at the start. And an occasional passive sentence can break up a string of staccato declarative sentences. But generally prefer and strive for the active voice.