Not so long ago, I sat on a panel at a conference in Prague (yes, I know, tough life). Anyway, the subject was “The Communicator 3.0.” What, therefore, does the next generation of communicator look like? Will we be different, better, replaced by (semi) intelligent robots, or what? An interesting topic, especially for those of us who are unsure whether we ever really made it to the 2.0 version.
On balance, I am torn between the view that communications is a basic element of the human condition and the recognition that the pace of change is frightening and unsettling and that, by definition, Communicator 3.0 will need to be very different to accommodate this change. I still think the fundamentals won’t change. Communicators will need to understand how to develop and maintain truly authentic relationships. We will still spend our time crafting messages, devising strategies to promote and defend, seeking out areas of mutual interest between ourselves (or our companies) and those that matter, building and guarding reputation.
On the other hand, I truly believe that Communicator 3.0 will be much more of a core businessman or woman rather than a ‘shared service’. In the same way as marketing is a mainstream business function, so will communications be. Some might argue that this is already the case, but I would disagree. How many CEOs of leading companies used to be communicators? How many came out of marketing? I rest my case. Communicators 3.0 will be seen as an integral part of the management mix. They won’t report into the Board. They will already be there. In a world where reputation is THE differentiator, where mistakes can be exposed and amplified, or support can be found and mobilised, like never before, Communicator 3.0 will be too important to leave outside the door.
We’re all going to be CEOs. Yay.
Nick Andrews is FleishmanHillard’s Reputation Practice Leader for EMEA. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.