To quote Dana Theus, a person who always gives these subject far more thought (and words) than I do:
This fundamental dilemma - how to enable an organization's broader audience to carry forth its identity while still maintaining some level of control over the dialog and "company line" is the essential challenge for strategic marketers in the days, months and years aheadHaving previously covered this topic of communication at the edge of the company, I'm now determined to tackle it further.... However, its definately a tricky issue to know these days where the company boundary exisits.
Back in the day:
Before social media and the ‘always on’ culture of 24 hour messaging, blackberries and their ilk, this was easier. Back then there were seldom chances for your normal employee to get involved in conversations about its company business with someone else (beyond a drink with a fellow employee after work). Senior executives, who stood a greater chance of being asked to comment on a wider scale, were given: manuals, training and the fear of retribution put into them, if they gave more to the media than the exact words they had been given themselves. ("No Comment")
However, nowadays that's all changed.....
- Employees fight to uphold their company's reputation without permission
- Employees openly criticise their company's actions
- CEO's blog about relevant (and irrelevant) topics (some even walk onto the homepage and introduce themselves)
So perhaps there's another way of looking at this. Perhaps we don't need to understand where the company ends and where the individual (employee or customer) begins. I'm beginning to think of it as a sliding scale of influence within your own company, that just beomes far less influential (but still influential to some extent) when you breach the company boundary.
Perhaps this diagram from Awareness Networks starts to paint the right picture?