Cover Story: New Media … Same Strategy
Music says that around 2002 the organization began to shift its language and thinking from an internal perspective to an external one focused more on constituent relationship management.
“Constituent relationship management really started to become a philosophy that we promoted, that we talked about,” Music says. “We really did a lot of change management around letting customers be king in the American Cancer Society, which allowed us to put the framework in that really you should be constituent-centric in all of the decisions that you make, whether it’s delivering a mission program or having a fundraiser. You should be listening to the people who are going to participate in that and building those offerings around what they want, not necessarily what the internal leadership of the organization might think is the best thing to do.”
Becky Steinmark Erwin, national director of media relations for ACS, says the organization created the Futuring and Innovations Center to serve as an alert group free from ACS’ business infrastructure to monitor, experiment with and learn from what others were doing to take advantage of the new media marketplace, which enabled the organization to think about emerging technologies as a means to improve its existing constituent-engagement strategies.
“It permeated the entire organization,” Erwin says. “As [a result], we are now prepared to deal with innovation differently and more broadly as an enterprise.”
The organization is so prepared to deal with innovation as an enterprise that the FIC was phased out last year. Scott Bennett, national vice president of marketing for ACS, says the FIC helped guide the organization through the social networking/Web 2.0 learning curve that a lot of organizations are still struggling through.
“When the FIC was created, many of the things we now take for granted, like Facebook, Second Life, mobile texting, search and blogs, were considered nonpractical,” Bennett says. “Today, our organization, like many others, has accepted and learned to use these new media. There is no longer a difference between tools of today and tomorrow. Hence, the FIC no longer exists.”