Hire a “Recent” Business Graduate in 2008

 I recently read an article in Optimum OnlineGeneration Y Challenges the Public Service by  David Eaves, who is an expert in negotiating and public policy, and works with leading companies across North America, helping them develop and implement strategies for maximizing value from partnerships, alliances with customers and suppliers. In addition, he works with non-profits and government agencies, consulting on various public policy issues.

Eaves’ article, which is taken from a speech he gave to senior executives in the federal public service association (APEX) highlights the challenges the INTERNET GENERATION have adapting to the public service which is run by baby boomer’s who “don’t totally get the transformation the Internet is bringing to society , including Web 2.0 and other new techniques and media.

One of the lessons I learned as a senior executive in the public sector (and as a professor at a Business School where our students work on projects with government and non profits and are totally stunned at the lack of knowledge of contemporary  marketing and business skills in these sectors) and still follow today is to make sure that you have young people on your marketing and communications team. More importantly make darn sure  you listen to what they have to say. This generation looks at how to do things in a very different way and are always shocked and surprised at how “backward”  my generation is at getting things done. They are right in most cases ! What takes my generation hours to do ” the old fashioned way” these young folks can do in a micro-minute.

So if you are a manger in the public service or non profit sector make a New Years resolution that this year you will hire someone who  is part of  Generation Y , preferably a recent marketing/business graduate  and most importantly listen to them.  It could be the best decision you make in 2008.

To all my readers, I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a very happy holiday and good marketing health in 2008.

Here are suggestions from Eaves:

So what can you do?

First, symbols matter. So you may have to change the symbols. One of the best articles I’ve read on leadership was by the president of Scandinavian Airlines, who talked about how, after much reflection, he flipped his organizational chart upside down so as to place himself at the bottom, understanding that his role was to support everybody above him, so they could, in turn, support the front-line workers who actually touch the customers. Maybe you could flip the pyramidal APEX logo on its head?

Second, remember the centrality of connections. I’d love to see a public service that connects employees and allows them to search each other out by areas of interests, experience and knowledge. And then to have all public policies on wiki’s so that anybody in the public service can read and comment, and make anybody else’s work better. A networked, open-sourced public service – now that would be exciting!

Third, where are the leaders? I want to come back to one of the best things Jim Collins says: “Leaders model the values and set the culture of an organization.” Since APEX represents the leaders of the public service, you are empowered to model the values and set the culture for this organization. That is real power.

Fourth, mentoring is crucial. People who are successful didn’t get there on their own. They had others looking after and helping them. One big problem with the public service is that nobody has any incentive to coach and mentor anyone else. I know that when you invest time and energy into someone, they’ll probably end up entering a competition and getting a job elsewhere, and so someone else will benefit. I know that must be frustrating. But mentor someone.

Fifth, change the culture. Make it less hierarchical, so when someone who works for you has an idea that gets airtime, make sure they get into the meetings with the higher-ups. When I worked as a consultant, it was unimaginable that a partner would meet with a client on something I was working on and I wouldn’t be in the room. How was I supposed to know what the problems were if I wasn’t hearing it from the horse’s mouth? Not only did I work better, but I learned a ton.

Sixth, it is all about teamwork. Young people are hungry and want to work, especially if the work is interesting. Larger teams usually mean there are more senior people who will take the sexier files. Smaller teams may have to work harder but a) they generally are more motivated because everybody gets to do more interesting work, and b) they collaborate more easily because everybody wants help. This type of environment can be intoxicating and fun.

Seventh, get out of your islet! Almost everybody in the public service is permitted to take a sabbatical, so do it! Try a job at a non-profit or for-profit organization. Learn something new: some new skills, some new management techniques, get a new perspective, and bring it back to the public service. The public service will be richer for it and your team will learn more from you!



Power to the People and Facebook

I just read a Fascinating article on Face book and its impact on advocacy. First some stats:

Facebook has added 250,000 new users each day. Canadians have led the way, accounting for about eight million of the site’s nearly 60 million global users.

Michael Geist just wrote an article in the Ottawa Citizen on his experience with using Facebook as an advocacy tool and the results are nothing short of remarkable. Here is an except from his article.

“Consider the experience of the Fair Copyright for Canada Facebook group, which I launched on Dec. 1, with limited expectations. With the federal government expected to introduce new copyright reform within a matter of days, a Facebook group seemed like a good way to educate the public about an important issue. I sent invitations to a hundred or so Facebook friends and seeded the group with links to a few relevant websites.

What happened next was truly remarkable. Within hours, the group started to grow, first 50 members, then 100, and then 1,000 members. One week later, there were 10,000 members. Two weeks later, there were more than 25,000 members with another Canadian joining the group every 30 seconds.

The big numbers tell only part of the story. The group is home to more than 500 wall posts, links to 150 articles of interest, more than 50 discussion threads, dozens of photos, and nine videos. Nine days ago, it helped spur on an offline protest when Kempton Lam, a Calgary technologist, organized 50 group members who descended on Industry Minister Jim Prentice’s area open house to express their views on copyright. While Facebook was not the only source of action — there was mounting coverage from the mainstream media along with hundreds of blog postings (including 300 questions posted for Prentice at the CBC Search Engine blog) — the momentum was unquestionably built on thousands of Canadians who were determined to have their voices heard.

Much to the surprise of skeptics who paint government as unable or unwilling to listen to public concerns, those voices had an immediate impact. Ten days after the Facebook group’s launch, Prentice delayed introducing the new copyright reforms, seemingly struck by the rapid formation of concerned citizens who were writing letters and raising awareness.

Not only had tools like Facebook had an immediate effect on the government’s legislative agenda, but the community that developed around the group also led to a “crowdsourcing” of knowledge. Canadians from coast to coast shared information, posed questions, posted their letters to politicians, and started a national conversation on copyright law in Canada.

In this instance, Canadians increasingly recognized the detrimental effect of the proposed copyright reforms on consumer rights, privacy, and free speech, and were moved to act.”

As he points out in his article “Facebook is far more than just a cool way to catch up with old friends; rather, it is an incredibly effective and efficient tool that can be used to educate and galvanize grassroots advocacy, placing unprecedented power into the hands of individuals.”

 Face book and blogging has really changed things and give a new meaning to “ power to the people”. We live in interesting times. I suspect we are in a midst of a communications revolution and I pity the poor politician who today has to face these new advocacy technologies. No longer will government be able to do things on the legislative front without facing the strongest lobbying tool ever invented Web 2.0 and Facebook, Youtube and blogging as well as other tools that are emerging So hold your hat we are in for the ride of our life and if you are not familiar with the new technologies read my colleague’s Mike Kujawski’s blog    Public Sector Marketing 2.0

Governments continue to block employee access to sites like Facebook which is extremely shortsighted and in the long run they will pay a big political price.


Tension and Competition between Marketing and Communications

From time to time practioners in the field of Marketing and Communications get into a debate about the differences and more importantly which takes prominence in an organization. First in order to clarify things, the term Communications is somewhat of a misnomer. The field of endeavor is actually called Public Relations but during the eighties Public Relations became somewhat pejorative and fell out of favour and public relations organizations especially in government and nonprofit sector started calling what they do Communications .

There’s always been some degree of tension and competition between public relations and marketing people, especially when it came to questions of which discipline ought to be dominant or which contributed more to their parent organization’s well-being. They also compete for scarce internal resources and for public attention. Some organizations used only one of these disciplines. Others use both. The degree to which they use them, and the specific ways in which they use them varies from organization to organization based on their purpose, size, and history.

If an organization is public sector or non profit and sees its primary goal as serving the public then public relations tends to be the more dominant function because building relationships with its publics is its over-riding concern. Most public sector/nonprofit organizations have a Communications or Public Relations group, involved in public information, community relations, community and public affairs etc. The concept of marketing in these sectors is a bit of a late comer as marketing is very much associated with business. Although Public sector and nonprofit marketing is a burgeoning
field, see Judith Madill’s article on government marketing or Kotler and Lee’s book on Public Sector Marketing and Andreasen and Kotler‘s book on Strategic Nonprofit Marketing

If you are a for profit organization public relations is of secondary importance and is normally done to support and enhance marketing efforts. In a small company, there might not be a separate and identifiable public relations group at all. In a medium to large corporation, you definitely have a good size marketing group with a smaller public relations function.  Marketing in a for- profits generates sales of goods and services and directly contributed to the company’s profitability while Public Relations coordinates relationships with various publics in order to gain public acceptance and approval of the company’s activities, including its sales activities.

Here are some recent definitions: Marketing is an organizational function and a set of processes for creating, communicating, and delivering value to customers and for managing customer relationships in ways that benefit the organization and its stakeholders(American Marketing Association) and Public relations is a strategic management function that adds value to an organization by helping it to manage its reputation. (Chartered Institute of Public Relations)

Marketing has at its core a desire to reach consumers and make them think, believe or do what you want. Public relations is more focused on influencing reputation, whether corporate or personal which makes the marketer’s job easier, while marketing activity affects a company’s reputation. The PR function in a private sector company is often (but not always) managed within a broader marketing division. Those organizations that have the most effective communications are those that don’t get hung up on what’s marketing and public relations or communications. Instead they focus on choosing the best vehicles and tools for delivering their objectives, regardless of which toolbox it comes from.

In the nonprofit field we have a very different scenario. Here is a quote from the Andreasen and Kotler book mentioned earlier, found on page 328.

  “The public relations function can be accorded high or low influence in the organization, depending on the board’s and chief executive’s attitude toward the function. In some organizations, the public relations manager is a vice president and sits on all meetings involving information and actions that might affect public perceptions of the organization. He or she not only puts out fires but also counsels management on actions that will avoid starting fires. In other organizations, public relations is a middle-management function charged with getting out publications and handling news, the annual report and special events, the public relations people are not involved in policy and strategy formulation, only in tactics.” Campaign –level P.R. efforts are typically structured in one of two ways. In some organizations, the public relations function or department has staffers who are assigned to particular campaigns and serve to advance their strategies. If the organization believes the campaign managers should have all the tools needed to carry out their objectives , the campaign hires their own PR person or a person from the PR Department will be assigned to the campaign on a full time , long term, basis.”  There is a third approach to structuring the PR / Communications function, i.e., to put it within the marketing area. A major challenge to the chief administrators and board from time to time, is deciding what should be the relationship between marketing and public relations in a nonprofit organization. Clearly the two functions work well together in commercial firms with marketing focusing on the development of plans to market the company’s products and services to consumers, while public relations takes care or relations with other publics.. In Non-profit organizations, however, the relationship between the PR and marketing departments has often been marked by tension and lack of clearly defined areas of responsibility. This is because of the important role of PR at the campaign level. Many marketing efforts simply cannot succeed without powerful marketing efforts!”

“The tension is often an historical artifact. In many institutions the PR function was already established when marketing was introduced. Friction between the two areas subsequently arose, first because the marketing department was often assigned functions that were “taken away” from public relations. First, they did their media relations and events. Second, public relations directors often felt that they should have been given the better paying new position of marketing director when it was created. Third, many PR executives felt that marketing ought to be a division within their departments or that marketing as a separate function was not needed at all.” “These frictions were often exacerbated by the lack of clearly specified separate roles for the two functions and a clear understanding of how they should be coordinated by each other. Our own view is that there is a need for an organization-level PR function but the campaign-level functions should be under the control of the marketing people because of the crucial role public relations must play in most campaigns. Indeed, when nonprofit organizations hire advertising and public relations organizations to help with the campaigns, they often specifically seek organizations that have both advertising and public relations capabilities.”

 Recently our organization had some issues with between Marketing and Communications regarding the web. The web function in most public sector organizations are managed by Communications folks , however where it becomes a problem ( and we find this with many of our clients) is when the marketing function of an organization involved in revenue generation and or cost recovery activities want to use the web as part of a marketing strategy.  The Communications functions tend to control the web and are the “gate keepers of the web”. The Communications function sees the web as a vehicle to provide information as well as enhance the image of the organization while the marketing folks want to use the web as an e-commerce / e-marketing or in some cases a social media function and are prohibited from carrying out this important commercial function because the Communications folks have the final say on what appears on the web. (And usually they regard marketing as a secondary function if at all.) Marketing has a lot to offer a public sector and nonprofit organization (that will be another blog)    as does the Communications function. Clearly both functions should be working harmoniously no matter what the structure of the organization.