Posted by: East and West | 2009/05/29

"I am my company."

In today’s Media Post Online Spin blog, Max Kalehoff talks about enlisting the entire company as its marketing team.

Why limit imagination and opportunity through silos and top-down departmental power structures? … if marketing is not fully embraced as part of every employee’s job, then the firm is strategically disadvantaged.”

I couldn’t agree more. When I first I got my legs as a PR professional at Hill & Knowlton, one of the first gems of insight I gleaned was that everyone in an organization is a spokesperson. Whether you realize it or not, you represent your company 24/7 — when you interact with the public face-to-face on the store floor, when a friend casually asks you over lunch how things are at the office, when you negotiate prices or terms with a supplier, when the local TV station asks you to comment on your company’s participation in the holiday food drive, when you blog.

I’ve tried to impress this idea on management and everyone I work with, everywhere I’ve worked. Some coworkers understand, some don’t, and some I just don’t meet until it’s too late. (That’s a topic for a future blog.) I believe in developing spokespersons at every level of the organization, and providing the training and information that will make them confident and credible.

Max Kalehoff asks, “Is your company the marketing?” Marshall McLuhan said, “The medium is the message.” I am my company, and I am my company’s message. What I do — as much as what I say — will give outsiders insight into what my company represents and its place in the market.

We can still express a personal opinion, circulate jokes by email, profess our faith. Every good organization has avenues for constructive self-criticism. But as we face the world, we really shouldn’t bite the hand that feeds us. Undermining our company will hurt us in the long run. If we truly oppose our company’s mission or actions, then perhaps we owe it to ourselves to find professional fulfillment elsewhere.

“If you work for a man, in heavens name work for him! If he pays you wages that supply you your bread and butter, work for him, speak well of him, think well of him, stand by him and stand by the institution he represents. I think if I worked for a man I would work for him. I would not work for him a part of the time, and the rest of the time work against him. I would give an undivided service or none. If put to the pinch, an ounce of loyalty is worth a pound of cleverness.” — Elbert Hubbard

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