PR BLOGGER Neville Hobson has a post today about the continuing battle between corporate IT departments and communications departments for control over companies’ web-based communications — see Communication and IT: Still an uneasy alliance.
He says that while he still sees cases where IT and communications people are in conflict, it is much less prevalent today than in the past.
He is right about that.
However, my own experience is that it is only incompetent IT folks who cause problems for competent communicators.
Most often the problem lies with incompetent communicators, not incompetent IT folks. For the record, I’m a communicator, not an IT guy.
Too few communicators in authority today understand the IT perspective. This leaves the IT folks feeling that the communicators cannot be trusted to make good decisions.
In my experience, when communicators demonstrate to their IT departments that they have a good understanding of the IT position, they are more likely to win buy-in and support from the IT folks.
Another big problem — probably bigger than the IT-communications conflict — is the conflict between different communications functions; PR versus HR or IR versus PR or even IR versus the Corporate Secretary.
You can see this conflict playing out in public all the time when you visit companies’ websites. You will find sites with really good Media sections, but poor Investor Relations sections, or great IR sections that are undermined by bad Corporate Governance sections.
These sites are run by different people in different departments that don’t talk to each other. It sticks out like a sore thumb and probably leads many users to perceive the company as being poorly run.
One solution is for companies to create an inter-disciplinary web communications team that has responsibility for all of the company’s web-based communications. This team would include people with an IT, IR, PR, HR, Marketing and employee communications backgrounds.
Of course, a battle usually breaks out over who this team should report to. Should it be marketing, communications/IR or IT?
My personal view is none of the above.
Web communications is so important today that it is a function unto itself and should be represented at the senior management level, like how an editor of a newspaper is on a par with the circulation director and the head of sales and the CFO.