on May 3, 2015
Digital Strategies is a great instructional manual for senior corporate strategists, charged with building a brand or communicating the message of an organization. Argenti and Barnes seem especially sympathetic toward strategists, long in the business, who now find themselves faced with the fast shifting ground of an environment peppered with evermore communication platforms. The strength of this book lies in how it aptly articulates, and then addresses traditional perspectives and concerns of individuals and teams, still grappling with the “so what” of virtual public spaces. This book shows how these new town squares give rise to exchanges of information and ideas that rapidly reshape public opinion and heavily influence reactions. The main weakness of this book is that it falls prey to the very fast past trajectory it tries to define, and as such, it feels a bit dated in place and sophomoric in some of the explanation. Even so, it is a great primer for the brand keeper who is trying to make sense of all the digital changes and trying to create strategies against the backdrop of this constant change.
The most relevant features of Digital Strategies are the clear explanations, and anecdotal discussions that illustrate the power shift from management to stakeholders. The book introduces the idea of a new Conversation Age and spells out what companies need to do to keep stakeholders from hijacking the organization’s intended messaging. These are not your mother’s stakeholders. Today’s stake have easy and immediate access to endless relevant information, which constantly tips the power balance. Corporate communication goals must include neutralizing conflict, controlling the messaging and guarding the company’s image and reputation. Argenti recommends integrating and closely aligning the communication, marketing and human resource divisions, to better manage an organization’s brand, their internal messages, and the trust they hold with stakeholders.
And while I applaud the book for hammering out the details of how digital changes are impacting the way companies must do business¸ the references could be more current. For instance, in Chapter 5, “The Water Coolerr Goes to Cyberspace”, the discussion feels a bit antiquated with references to MySpace and Ning as banner sites. In the included Dictionary Appendix, some of the definitions are beyond basic, as in what is YouTube or a tag.
In her review of this book, Mary Piecewicz, an MBA and Certified 6 Sigma Black Belt, complains of Argenti’s failure to include a worldview that reflects cultural diversity. While this is true, I take issue with Piecewicz’ criticism and here’s why: a worldview is not the objective of this work. The authors state clearly at the onset of the book that the objective is to help companies integrate digital communications strategies into their business models. As stated, the dictionary indicates the target audience are novice.
Argenti admits he is new to the specifics of the digital arena, though he is widely held as a corporate communications sage. But what Argenti lacks in virtual savvy, Barnes well makes up for with her experienced views. Any corporate communication strategist will be well served by reading the case studies and best practices the authors offer as a primer for how to do business in the new virtual, Wild West.
on July 4, 2010
I put off reading this for almost a year, because I was pretty skeptical of another business book with a long title. Full disclosure: I received a free copy from one of the authors, but that only made me feel guilty enough to actually finally pick it up and read it.
Well worth the read, and worth having at hand as a reference if you work in any way at all in the interface between your company, clients, the public, and stakeholders.
Lots of real world cases and lessons learned from the last few years as corporate execs and communications pros adapt to the influence of social networking and the changes it forces on us.
I'm still not sure what to make of the first two chapters, but the rest are high value.