Here's something to add to the continuing discussion regarding where responsibility for social media should lie in the corporate organization chart. It's been an ongoing battle between marketing, PR and advertising, with some adding customer relations into the mix.
A survey by The Creative Group, reported in MediaPost a few days ago, adds some fuel to the fire. The survey of marketing and ad executives shows that 39 percent of them feel social media outreach belongs under the purview of the communications/PR department. Thirty-five percent say it should reside in the marketing dept., and 15 percent feel it should be assigned to the customer relations dept. Five percent felt it should be a direct responsibility of the CEO.
MediaPost writer Erik Sass adds his own opinion that social media should be the responsibility of all the departments mentioned above.
In theory, he's right. But in real-world practice, one person or one department needs to have day-to-day responsibility for the organization's social media outreach and dialogue.
My vote is for the PR department.
The PR discipline is supposed to be sensitive to the impact and tone of communications. The PR person or PR department is supposed to be most adept at putting ideas into words that explain, motivate or convince an intended audience. If that audience happens to be reached via social media, the tool that is utilized is still words, or in some cases words and pictures or video. But it's all based on the written word, which is what we in Public Relations are supposed to best at.
The PR person can't -- and shouldn't -- work in a vacuum, though. That's where all the other departments come in. Guidelines should be established based on input from the marketing and advertising folks, the customer service people, the lawyers (ugh) and possibly even the CEO as well. But implementation and day-to-day dialogue via social media should be under the guidance of the PR people.
There should be protocols established so predetermined actions can be taken if a problem or firestorm erupts online, as we've seen happen. That's when it might be necessary to have group decisions made regarding content and wording.
But everyday communications via social media should be, in my opinion, handled and overseen by the PR people. They're the ones who should be most adept at a company's communications with the world beyond the boardroom.