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The Evolving Corporate Looking Glass: A Virtual House of Mirrors?

by Shey O'Grady, Senior Director, Media Services A company has many faces, both internal and external. In some cases these faces are clearly defined by function, such as PR, HR, Corporate Marketing, Customer Service'?¦But, company faces may also be cross-functional (as in the case of think tanks, blogs, etc.), company-wide, or even more literally defined ' as the employees themselves. Now more than ever, employees have an opportunity to represent their company in their day-to-day correspondence and networking activities ' particularly via continually emerging digital applications and channels. Of course there are tremendous opportunities for companies to 'organically'? promote and build out their overall brand positioning, as well as product-specific messaging, key alignments, job openings, etc., but I find one aspect particularly intriguing -- the opportunities for a company to leverage the individual and collective networks of its employee base ' to identify key strengths of each employee and not only guide messaging accordingly, but encourage and reward exceptional, innovative and relevant exhibits of brand extension. So, while this 'virtual house of mirrors'? is fragmented, difficult to navigate, demanding of trial and error, prone to obstacles and perhaps at times what may appear as distorted views, and at other turns requiring a good hard look at oneself 'it just may be worth the walk through the maze to come out on the other side. A strategic approach to the messaging, the agent selection and the communications vehicles (combined with a smart link strategy!) will not only maintain a cohesive voice across the many faces, but just may pay out across many facets of the company ' empowering, instilling confidence and motivating employees, building brand 'organically'? (note: potential for SEO/SEM implications) through powerful WOM channels, increasing knowledge sharing ' in turn identifying, building and strengthening relationships, facilitating innovation to identify new assets ' such as individual talent, product opportunities, and more! A key consideration worth noting here ' building and maintaining a cohesive employee-based communications strategy (ERM, LOL!) should not come at the expense of employees being able to 'be themselves'? ' the reflection in the mirror should always be their own; the art will be in fostering the freedom of self-expression that will elicit true interest and participation, life and inspiration, to the efforts. Some opportunities are obvious: -Recent graduates have connections to school alumni departments and potential recruits -Sales and Biz Dev benefit from cross-company networking and visibility into related connections -Corporate alignments (e.g., charitable and sponsor) extend nicely across platforms and invite followers (CRM implications) Other opportunities warrant seeking out and enabling: -A CTO of a tech-oriented company with powerful writing skills -A charismatic CMO who embodies the brand -Engaging, 'connected'?, 'personalities'? who extend and bring personality to the brand -Brand champions (employees, clients, vendors, etc.) Invitations for discussion: -Does your company encourage you to have a 'face'? -- on or off the Web? -Do they provide you with tools and support to uncover how you may best contribute? Do you welcome the opportunity to be such an ambassador? -Has your company made a concerted adjustment to communication flow among employees? How has your company's intranet evolved to facilitate information sharing, communication and collaboration? -How/does your company aggregate the various faces? -Does your company proactively seek out opportunities for acting on consumer interest and response to individual employee's efforts? -How has your company's digital presence evolved to encourage employee and consumer participation? -What would or does your corporate face look like (visit Wordle for inspiration)? How could you be a brand ambassador to your company --what do you bring to the table? -When you look in the 'virtual mirror'?, what do you want to see? Take a look ' you just may surprise yourself! Related posts and inspirations: -'Breakdown: The Five Ways Companies Let Employees Participate in the Social Web'?, Web Strategy by Jeremiah Owyang, posted 7/15/09 -Media Arts Mondays: Data Visualization Tools, 5/11/2009, PSFK o Wordle o Nexus -On branded accounts, Bud Caddell, 5/26/2009 ('For a company like Undercurrent, our main objective should be continually leveraging the independent and generally brilliant voices within our walls.'?) -'The whole is more than the sum of its parts'?, Aristotle quote -Social Media Presence: The Sum of Its Parts, Ryan Rasmussen -'Our commitment to openness means more than simply informing the American people about how decisions are made. It means recognizing that government does not have all the answers, and that public officials need to draw on what citizens know.'?, President Obama, 1/21/09, http://www.whitehouse.gov/ope/ -Social Media Policies (updated 4/10), The Altimeter Wiki -IBM Social Computing Guidelines, IBM Virtual World Guidelines,Yahoo! Employee Blog Guidelines

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