As communications continue to evolve, the Internet's become a point of convergence for business departments including marketing, public relations, and information technology.
Each tend to fight over who should manage which parts of the website. And, it makes sense, right? A lot of marketing and PR effort takes place on the web, and, of course IT needs control of things like intranets, portals, emails, form submissions and such as well.
Hence the gray area - everyone has a claim to manage the website, but it's not clear who should be doing what. This can cause conflict, especially when there aren't clearly defined goals. The solution to this issue is simple; put rules in place and update them regularly to keep up with evolving technology.
You can break a website into two components--front end and back end. The front end is what the public sees, what you're looking at right now--the copy, videos, and images. The back end is the content management system and supporting hardware and software running it.
By looking at each of these, you can differentiate which group needs to be in charge of what.
Marketing is in charge of the brand experience and messaging, so it would take overall lead with the front end of the website--ensuring the user's experience and the messaging are consistent with the brand standards.
Often, marketing works closely with public relations. Public relations often has a small sub-category of the website to manage and maintain, like press releases, multimedia clips, image galleries, social media, and event listings. Since PR and marketing work closely, it's best to have some rules to follow.
You can consider it part of IT's job to support marketing and public relations as well as ensure the back end of the website works. Is the website performing adequately? Is it loading quickly? Is the video buffering quickly enough so it's streaming without delay? These are the areas where IT comes in to ensure the website is updated, servers are functioning, and back end issues are solved.
In some cases, IT isn't as web-savvy. IT may be in charge of more back-end services like managing the email server and handling your billing system. Sometimes, IT doesn't have a lot of experience with website support, but, your web developer or designer will or will know someone who does.
Have a plan
You need a good website management plan with defined core values for each department. Like a Venn diagram, you may see overlap with each. But, as long as you have core values and responsibilities, you'll see those conflict cycles decrease or disappear completely.
We worked with an organization that experienced a great deal of conflict amongst its three departments. A marketing rep made a change, and then PR adjusted the change and tried to tie it into a press release. PR ended up deleting the entire page of multi-media content, and IT was asked to fix it. IT realized the issue with the page was causing issues for an entire portion of the website. So, IT cleaned it up and reverted to the version prior to the changes by marketing. Then, marketing came back, edited it again, and we're back at square one. Why? They weren't communicating and had no clear plan in place.
Our role was primarily to redesign the website, but as to help ensure the redesign was successful we helped create a simple plan that fit on a sheet of paper. It was a small checklist of roles and responsibilities like this:
- Marketing: manages front-end components, overall aesthetics, media content, and written content
- Public Relations: Manages press releases, social media, and events
- IT: Manages all functional support.
Now, they make use of some of the tools inherit to the CMS we installed for them (in this case Drupal) and tied their workflow into a simple group email used to notify each other of changes to the website. And, since they've had a plan, they haven't had conflict.
Already have a plan in place?
Find out what goals you should be setting for your website.
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