This morning, I met Brian Butvin for breakfast at Yours Truly Restaurant on Chagrin Boulevard in Beachwood, OH. He is a good friend who I’ve known for 20 years. Brian has remarkable wit and insight. It is always a pleasure to discuss nearly any topic with him.
I as drove to this breakfast meeting, I was intrigued by a radio program, “Living on Earth”, broadcast on WKSU. This episode, “BP’s Image Problem”, discussed whether BP's image can survive the oil spill disaster. Naturally, I discussed the program’s content with Brian.
The program’s host, Jeff Young, interviewed John Carroll, a media analyst, about the crisis facing BP’s brand and its sunburst logo. Though social media was not explicitly mentioned, the interview covered Twitter, YouTube, and Google in addition to traditional advertising.
Mr. Carroll observed that, “… BP finds itself in this situation where A) nobody believes a word they say, B) reality trumps PR every time, and C) they can't control their message even if the first two weren't in effect, because there are too many competing voices out there.” In comparing BP’s oil spill crisis to the Tylenol’s product tampering crisis, he also observed that, “Advertising used to be this one-way street, now it's a two way street, it's a conversation. You don't create your brand anymore. You collaborate with consumers to create your brand.”
It is these observations that are of interest to Enterprise Architects. Social media impacts each organization in good circumstances and in bad. It does not matter whether an organization engages in or refrains from social media. Enterprise Architects are investment advisors to the organization’s executives on matters of information technology. They are concerned with costs and risks; including risks arising from social media.
Social media presents new challenges to the Enterprise Architect. Social media extends the enterprise boundaries beyond the organization’s walls. This includes information exchanges and IT assets not under the organization’s control. Social media requires additional attention to exception conditions; especially those associated with moments of corporate crisis. Such conditions may be real or perceived, and may arise from cause, as in BP’s oil spill case, or from criminal activity, as in Tylenol’s product tampering case.
Enterprise Architects must guide their executives toward establishing a Social Media Strategy. This strategy must be aligned with the business strategy and plan as well as the marketing strategy and plan. It must address traditional outbound communications as well as inbound communications. Uniquely, it must also address communications about the organization and its brand that are neither outbound nor inbound. This strategy must cover normal and exception (crisis) conditions, and must address social media’s many forms including text, image, and video.
The Enterprise Architect counsels the organization’s executives on social media’s benefits and risks. The executives must come to understand that avoiding social media or applying reactive policies will not protect the organization. The Enterprise Architect mitigates social media risk by applying information technology to enable the organization to respond quickly and effectively in moments of crisis.
Prudent executives would do well to heed the advice from their Enterprise Architects who can best prepare their organizations to weather the social media storm in times of crisis.
REFERENCE: “BP’s Image Problem”, Living on Earth and World Media Foundation, Broadcast on WKSU, 2010-JUN-12, http://www.loe.org/shows/segments.htm?programID=10-P13-00024&segmentID=6
__ Joseph Starwood (www.linkedin.com/in/JosephStarwood)