Are Communications Chiefs led by fear?

According to a survey conducted by Spencer Stuart and Weber Shandwick, a third of surveyed global Chief Communications Officers (CCOs) is not prepared to manage social media based threats.

In the same survey a third of surveyed CCO’s said that their companies experienced a social media based reputation threat in the past 12 months.

They would not admit it, but is the reason that CCOs are not prepared the unknown world of social media? Could the reason be that CCO’s don’t use social media themselves and that they lack relevant knowledge about social media? This would explain that they don’t like to start internal discussions around the topic or make decisions.

If this would be true, the first thing CCOs should acknowledge is that they are currently not a social media user and they need training. As the CCO, you need to understand social media. All communicators should. Only then communicators are able to drive and participate in internal discussions regarding social media, ask for the relevant input, build skilled teams and decide on the right strategy.

I’m amazed that nor Twitter or Facebook are integrated in the professional public discussions of the European Association of Communications Directors. Recently I’ve participated in two sessions and after talking to some participants, I realised that the reason might be that only a handful of the Directors organising the events and participants – professional Communicators in Europe – actively use Twitter or Facebook. If I compare this to the latest PR News Eventin New York that I participated, European communicators can learn a lot from U.S. peers.

Fear does not rule with regard to social media at KPN. At the EACD Regional Debate this Wednesday at BMW Group in Rijswijk, KPN presented their exciting Intranet in a relaxed way. It’s based on existing external social media, such as Twitter, with the purpose to give staff the floor to engage. Although they don’t know how to integrate it in the overall communications plan yet, they have already huge success with this bottom up platform. Off course they have challenges everyday, such as how to handle if staff would put confidential information on the intranet, or complaints or incorrect statements, but Corporate Communications does not seem to fear the challenges and deals with them in the same way as offline. It’s already a success since many users use the tool and KPNs CEO listens to them.

If it’s not fear why do you think many CCOs are not prepared to manage social media based threats?

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