Leading Inter-Departmental Collaboration by Leveraging Social Media Expertise by Kirsten Whitten

A recent Publicity Club of New England’s Masters’ Institute asked a very important question plaguing the public relations (PR) industry today: “How do we create the right environment to foster collaboration across different internal functions (PR, digital, creative, marketing, etc.), and make sure that we’re working toward a common goal?” (www.pubclub.org). One of the best practices that evolved from this event was that “strong and decisive leadership” is necessary because collaboration comes from the top” (www.pubclub.org).

This topic has evolved as a priority focus in PR publications and conferences nationwide as many PR, communication and marketing professionals are still struggling to find best practices for breaking down responsibilities across corporate functions (Andzulis, et al., 2012; Bacile, Hoffacker & White, 2014; Klie, 2014; Komodromos, 2014; USC Annenberg, 2014, 2016). This current situation presents PR professionals with a unique opportunity to leverage their expertise in social media relations – an area where they have primary responsibility (USC Annenberg, 2014). PR and Communication leaders can use this to impress corporate executives as they convince them to take a leadership role in planning these responsibilities across the organizations they represent.

But, as a PR professional, educator, and Ph.D. student, I wondered what type of guidance is available for PR executives as they attempt to take ownership of social responsibilities across functions. While many models and recommendations exist, most of these are based on direct perceptions and case study analysis.

It is for this reason that I decided to survey PR, corporate communication and social media executives directly to explore what types of leadership styles and collaborative planning practices have resulted in successful integration efforts. My hope is that the results of this study will unveil specific strategies and methods that PR executives can use in their quest to lead successful collaboration of social media efforts across organizational functions.

If you have experience in this area and would like to share this information, please take this 8-minute survey: www.SurveyMonkey.com/r/SocialMediaCollaboration. Also, feel free to comment below and share your stories about how PR professionals are leading social initiatives.

Kirsten Whitten is an instructor in communication and public relations at Curry College, Stonehill College and Regis College. She is a Ph.D. student at Regent University and a member of the Publicity Club of New England and PRSA Boston.

Sources: Andzulis, J., Panagopoulos, N., & Rapp A. (2012). A review of social media and implications for the sales process. Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management, 32(3), 305–316.; Bacile, T., Hoffacker, C. & White, A. (2014). Emerging challenges in social media. International Journal of Integrated Marketing Communications, 6(1), 34-51.; Klie, L. (2014). 10 Social Customer Service Tips. CRM Magazine, 18(2). 18-22.; Komodromos, M. (2014). A study of PR practitioners’ use of social media tools in Cyprus. Journal of Developmental Entrepreneurship, 19(2), 1-9.; University of Southern California, Annenberg. (2014, June 26). Communication and Public Relations Center Eighth Biennial Communication and Public Relations Generally Accepted Practices GAP VIII Study Findings Report.

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