Posts Tagged ‘ITEA’

IT Conference Reveals Unexpected Connection with PR

Monday, June 28th, 2010

Ask most PR people whether they’d like to attend a conference filled with IT people. Go on, ask. Read the conference brochure and marvel at “2000 Years of IT Service Management,” “Achieving Technology and Business Superiority through IT Organizational Transformation,” and “IT Alignment: It Takes Two to Tango.”  It turned out to be one of the best conferences I’ve ever attended.

Everyone should take the time to assess their own objectives for attending a conference, seminar, luncheon or other event. Think through what you want to get out of it, what you’re willing to put into it. My objective, this summer, is to expand the network, among people who might want to engage my services.  I’ve been marketing myself through social media, and among communication organizations — the IABC Conference, my presentation to Lake Communicators, and this fall’s presentations at the PRSA International Conference and IABC’s Research and Measurement Conference.

While reviewing networking opportunities here in Cleveland on Pat Ropchock’s blog (she’s locked in big time), I noted “Integrate 2010: Uniting the World of IT” put on by the Greater Cleveland Local Interest Group of the ITSMFUSA — it’s a mouthful of an acronym that means, “IT people who want to be more relevant and strategic.”  They call the main discipline Service Management,” a process for aligning IT services with the needs of the enterprise.

The themes that emerged from most of the presentations I saw were fascinating.

  • IT feels like it’s not at the leadership table. Instead, they’re brought in after the business strategy’s in place and have to scramble to make things happen.
  • IT struggles to articulate its business value for all but a handful of services.
  • IT gets stuck on describing activities rather than defining its service portfolio in terms that the business leadership understands.
  • IT often can’t “sell” itself effectively, caught up in jargon and technical detail that isn’t relevant to leadership.

What happens if we replace “IT” with “PR” or “Corporate Communication?”

  • A consistent theme of IABC/PRSA material for years was “winning a seat at the table,” and then keeping it. We’ve been talking amongst ourselves for as long as I’ve been in the business about being business people first and communicators second. Yet, we’re still not there consistently.
  • Think about the debates over measurement methods — PR activity is difficult to isolate in the communication mix, and there are no standard answers for return on communication investment. Just last year, PRSA and the Institute for PR began working on a project to prove the business value of our profession. Internal communication is especially vulnerable to the question of ROI — and social media value outside of direct sales is still an unfinished book.
  • PR/Communications people frequently take as a given that their professional activities are impactful, regardless of the lack of data to support that claim. Our “service book” describes our activity from our perspective, not from that of our customers.
  • We (especially in internal communications) tend to resort to tactical explanations using our own lingo, rather than speaking about our work in terms readily understood by HR, Finance and leadership.

Sometimes it may seem like IT is on a different planet — more science than art, more Mars than Venus.  We, however, aren’t that different in our desires to be taken seriously by leadership as business people who employ specialized skills.

In addition to a few other things I discovered, this knowledge about IT was worth the price of admission.

More to follow on the conference shortly.

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