New rules: emerging mashups in C-level strategy and corporate comms
There is a very interesting trend emerging in how companies are dealing with the key issue of business strategy. The savvy ones are beginning to realize the benefits of combining the roles of business strategy with corporate communications.
And if you think about it--it makes perfect sense because strategy and communications are naturally linked. Yet in most organizations the corporate communications is run by the marketing group. In my opinion, corporate communications and business strategy should be one and the same. And I'm beginning to see some examples of companies implementing such positions.
Here are some examples of strategic and corporate communications roles being combined:
-Dan Scheinman is head of Cisco's mergers and acquisitions, this is the key strategic role within the network giant because it relies on acquisitions to become the drivers of future revenues. It must choose acquisitions that are on the cusp of large markets but it has to figure out what those markets will be, two years and more into the future.
Mr Scheinman also heads corporate communications at Cisco, and in this role he can direct the company message, make sure that internal communications and external communications are synchronized. And also communicate to customers and investors Cisco's strategic roadmap repeatedly and consistently--and now, potentially collect feedback with blogging tools.
Cisco is thus able to keep tight control over its message and repeat it, time and again, and make sure it fits in with its business strategy. And that is the way it should be. Corporate communications should not be run by Cisco's marketing group or an outside PR agency. However, PR agencies can provide useful support services in executing media/business strategies.
-Charles Philips is one of Oracle's presidents, he is not head of corporate communications, however, he does have a personal media brand that he uses to support Oracle's business strategy. As a former star Wall Street analyst, Mr Philips built a large following among the analyst communities, and in the press as a savvy and insightful analyst.
He still has a lot of respect within those communities and we've clearly seen how Oracle waged a media campaign that helped it beat considerable obstacles to its acquisition strategy.
-Ingres, is a revitalized open source database company which is building a very interesting high-powered executive team. Ingres has doubled up on the concept of combining business strategy and communications. Among the star executives at Ingres is CFO Tom Berquist, a former star Wall Street analyst, and Comms Chief Jim Finn, former head of corporate comms at Oracle for many years, and more recently, head of comms at IBM Americas.
Together, Mr Berquist and Mr Finn will have no trouble in raising Ingres out from the white noise in the enterprise software space. Mr Berquist knows how to speak to the financial analyst community and Mr Finn has strong relations with top media from his time at Oracle and IBM. It's a potentially very effective strategy and communications team.
[BTW, I am meeting with part of the Ingres team on Tuesday evening and will have more to report about this company later in the week.]
-SAP has Jeff Nolan, head of its Apollo Strategy Group. I met with Mr Nolan recently (Please see: Exclusive: Jeff Nolan). He is in charge of developing business strategy for the German enterprise software apps leader--and developing a new internal and external communications infrastructure for news dissemination and for gathering competitive intelligence.
Part of his mandate is to "Attack Oracle" by making sure SAP has its message heard loud and clear in its customer communities and can challenge anything Oracle says. And because Mr Nolan has built a media brand as a top VC blogger, he understands how corporate communications could be used in extremely strategic and creative ways.
Mr Nolan's position as an A-list blogger is far more useful to SAP than his experience as a VC. But his understanding of revenue models, market trends in enterprise software, and his media savviness make for a potentially very powerful role within SAP. I'm very interested in seeing how Mr Nolan uses that position--which is very new.
It has been my experience that mainstream media does not understand the new media technologies and how the mediasphere operates, but the A-list bloggers do. They know how to build media brands because that's how they got to be on the A-list.
That type of experience is hugely valuable to any enterprise--however there are not that many A-list bloggers, so it could be said that SAP was fortunate to be ahead of the game.
--Edelman, the world's largest PR agency has a twist on the strategy and communications role. Its strategy has been to acquire the top communicators in the blogosphere.
It is not a surprising strategy if you consider that its chief executive, Richard Edelman is an A-list blogger himself. The personal networks that top bloggers build provide a knowledge about the propagation of ideas and influence that cannot be gained by reading about it. It only comes from involvement in blogging and that is why Edelman has been scooping up top A-list bloggers such as Steve Rubel,and Phil Gomes.
It is a very smart strategy because it is harder than ever to break-into the ranks of the A-list bloggers--so therefore see if you can acquire them, or make sure you have good access to these top media brands.
Microsoft has two parallel media brands: Bill Gates and Robert Scoble. Mr Scoble is a two-way technology-enabled media brand that and costs just $100k per year in salary. Mr Gates is broadcast only--let's see if MSFT understands the difference--I bet it doesn't quite get it yet.
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- Here is another take on this subject from my ZDNet blog...
[Please see: - Exclusive interview with Dan Scheinman...]