From the category archives:

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“Good morning.”
“Hey, how are you?”
“Good. How are you?”
“Oh, you know. From the womb untimely ripped.”
“Sleepy?”
“I feel like I could sleep for weeks.”
“I know the feeling. You heading anywhere interesting?”
“South Carolina.”
“Why?”
“Because it’s there.”
“Well yeah, but they’ve already discovered it.”
“That’s right. And climbed it, too.”
“I live in North Carolina, so we tend to look down on South Carolina.”
“I’ve heard that. That there’s Carolina, and then South Carolina.”
“And they have Myrtle Beach and South of the Border.”
“But when you’re on your family vacation, where do you stop? South of the Border.”
“I’ve already decided that if I get married a third time, it’ll be there, in the shadow of Pedro.”
(big smile)
“Safe travels.”

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a very nice photo of a roseI’ve been tired of the arguments over “social media experts” for a long time. There’s also the recurring meme about people with unusual titles (ninja, guru) and that one bores me as well. If all you have to write about is semantics, dig a little deeper.

But here’s a nomenclature discussion that makes sense to me. The PR firm GolinHarris has tossed out their old title scheme and adopted a new one:

Strategists, who analyze a client’s business;

Creators, who develop new ideas and engage in brand storytelling;

Connectors, who reach target audiences through media and other channels;

Catalysts, who manage client relationships.

(Thanks, and a tip of the blog hat to Publicity Club of New England, where I found out about it.)

I’ve always been a big fan of clarity and saying what you mean. Those titles seem to me to say pretty clearly what those people do (with the possible exception of Catalyst—that one seems a little less descriptive and more like marketing speak).

With the speed at which things are changing in the communications and marketing world, and the different ways we are pursuing those activities, it makes sense to rethink the way we talk about what we do. Two of my three most recent titles didn’t exist five years ago.

The big question, of course, is will this provide clarity and value to clients, or will it confuse people? Regardless, it’s a bold step and one that seems to me to involve more than just semantics.

What do you think of those titles? And do you think we need new ones, or should we let the old ones evolve?

image by suchitra

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Somehow I missed that Mashable had declared June 30 Social Media Day until yesterday. People are celebrating with meetups. I’m celebrating by sitting in a coffee shop working on my enterprise social media book and being distracted by Twitter and Facebook. Seems appropriate. (Writing blog posts is another of my favorite ways to distract myself from writing the book, ironically.)

I’ve spent most of my career in marketing and marketing communications, mostly for technology companies, but with some interesting detours, including one into the music industry. I’ve written everything from radio spots to 40-page technical marketing manuals. I’ve thought a lot about how people and companies communicate, and why those two are usually different.

I’ve spent a lot of time trying to convince business people that it’s okay to talk like human beings. I’ve written and re-written press releases to try to make them sound like the way people talk, only to have the product manager or marketing manager put the buzzwords back in. “If we don’t use them,” they argued, “people will think we don’t know them.”

I’ve wondered for years about the real-world possibility of taking a radical transparency approach to corporate communications. I’ve been lucky enough to work for a few companies, most notably SAS, who really do live the values they profess. What would happen if a company told everybody everything? Not the proprietary details of the products they’re developing or who they’re about to acquire, but the internal debates and discussions that went into tough decisions. What if they really did say, “Whoops. We screwed up”?

What if companies talked to their customers as peers, as equals, as friends? Often the differences between the people on opposite ends of the telephone amount to where they’re sitting and the company name printed on their paychecks. Most of us spend the day talking to other people like us. What if we removed the artificial boundaries, which are almost solely boundaries of perception?

Social media is making all of that happen. It’s helping us see that companies are made up of people, with all the good and bad that entails. It is frightening. It is exhilarating. It is revolutionary. It is not going away. It is good. We will never go back to thinking of companies as gray, faceless edifices that speak with one voice. And hooray for that.

There is no field I would rather be in right now.

Happy Social Media Day!

image by Mashable.com

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