“I’m not a good writer. But I know technology.” Honestly, if I’ve heard that once, I have had that exact conversation 1000 times – with technology directors.
I primarily work with school districts and non-profit organizations that serve the education field. That’s why I know it was (is?) somewhat typical, in many school districts, to place the job of school public relations or communication under the direction of the technology director or the instructional technology director.
As a communication professional, I’ve often asked myself, “Why is that?”
Then today, I heard a tech person say, “I know how to use the technology. That doesn’t mean I know how to create the message.” Bingo! I loved that. In no way … I am NOT dissing technology directors. Please don’t read that into this blog (thanks!). In fact, I really believe we need technology skills as much as we need writers on the PR team. Tech directors have a knack for making things work! They just do.
What that technology director (and others) may really have been saying when he said that was that he doesn’t know content strategy. That simply is not what they do.
I think PR was originally bundled under technology, at least in schools, because when the digital age emerged, some leaders thought that communication via technology needed the technology director to drive the bus. The digital age looks like technology. But effective communication is more about content – and delivering it effectively via technology – than it is about just technology.
Technology is a part of the communication equation. I once heard that a website had three facets: technical (how something works), visual (how something looks) and content (what imessage is conveyed). I liked that simple summation of how the various attributes of a website must work together to make it function for the best user-experience. That was also a good summation of how many communication mediums work. We need stories to tell, and good people who know how to tell the story, and tech people who help deliver the story, and we need people who monitor the data, etc., etc., etc.
I think leaders are getting wiser, too. Communication, as a position or as a function, is being placed on equal footing with other organizational functions. And it should be.
In any organization, collaboration for effective communication involves PR or communication professionals, the technical people to support them – whether that be web designers, videographers, or the technology director – plus the CEO or superintendent, leaders at all levels, and everyone else – to make it effective. Each professional has a role to play in an effective school communication program.