I’m continuing my musings on connected conversations and tech pubs since there were such great comments and conversations going on with it.
I had an “ah ha” moment at SXSW Interactive, when one of the social media metrics panelists Rohit Bhargava said he sees three areas or channels for measurable conversations – Public Relations, Marketing (Sales), and Customer Support.
For me, those three categories crystallized this connection: where our role as tech pubs is strongest in an organization, that’s where we might start successful conversations.
Gordon McLean’s post cites Marketing and Sales as a strong tie-in, and sure, I’ve seen that and worked in that type of environment. Marketing concepts such as Business Service Management and white papers about ITIL were the primary reason and communication idea I used when I started my blog at talk.bmc in 2005. Product documentation that helps drive sales or close deals is a great method for proving our value.
Tech support seems the best alignment for many companies, as Charles Jeter’s follow-up points out. Tech publications that drive down support costs are another area where value proof lies.
Where tech writers don’t stand much of a chance, based on my limited experience, is public relations. We tend to be a fact-finding lot, not the “spin doctor” type, nor are we necessarily prepared or educated in the ways of crisis communication. I myself cringe to think of having to write blog entries for Southwest Airlines after the recent safety fine. There’s a great case study on crisis communications at BlogWrite for CEOs – Case Study: Southwest Airlines’ Corporate Blog and Crisis Communications and reading it makes me realize how difficult it can be to blog for a company as a representative of a company.
Now, my question is, will companies pay technical writers for a conversation rather than a deliverable? Perhaps only if there are some metrics to prove worth and value.