MCN Guest Blog

Communicating In A New Climate

10/26/2009 11:33 AM

By JIM MAIELLA
I’m not sure there has ever been a more interesting or energizing time to be doing communications work in the cable industry. The ability to deliver superior value and functionality across a range of products, the distribution of programming on multiple platforms, convergence that is real and a competitive marketplace all make the role of the cable communicator increasingly significant, and the need for excellence in this core function more important than ever before.

At the same time, the rise of the Internet and social media, the instantaneous movement of information and shift to a real-time “conversational” relationship with key audiences are fundamentally changing the nature of this work - offering new challenges and opportunities for communicators everywhere.
Cable communicators trying to excel in this dynamic environment have an important ally in the Association of Cable Communicators. The ACC is the industry’s only organization run by a board of real-world practitioners solely focused on providing professional training, tools and resources to ensure the success and effectiveness of communications professionals.

In Denver, ACC members will come together for our annual event, Forum, which is now part of Cable Connection-Fall. We’ll exchange insights and ideas, discuss the major challenges and opportunities our companies are facing, recognize the most effective communications programs in the industry with our Beacon Awards and generally focus on how to do what we all do better on behalf of our respective companies.

But an annual event doesn’t make an organization, which is why ACC has been working hard to broaden our programs and deliver meaningful benefits to members in a variety of ways. About two years ago, the ACC board began a process of shifting our mission and activities from an emphasis on recognition and networking to developing new educational tools and initiatives that benefit cable communicators in their day-to-day activities.

As part of this effort, we launched and continue to refine a new Web site, at www.cablecommunicators.org, which allows members to easily and efficiently come together for live chats and Webinars on topics like navigating Web 2.0, doing more with less and developing successful community relations programs. Our Web site also features written briefs on specific tactical areas and hosts a fully interactive member directory, which will really come alive over the next few months when we give all ACC members the opportunity to “tag” themselves with key areas of expertise - like competitive communications, media relations, grass roots or any of a dozen other specific areas - to foster constructive and collaborative discussions with colleagues looking for guidance and perspective.

And then there’s the ACC Communications Institute, an intensive two-and-half-day session held every spring in New York City in cooperation with Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. If Forum is a 30,000-foot view of our business environment and expertise, the Institute is the deep dive, an opportunity to come together in a room with a couple dozen colleagues and walk out the other side better, smarter and more effective for having been there.

The core proposition for ACC, today and in the future, revolves around doing real things to help cable communicators succeed by performing at a higher level. Meeting that goal is absolutely critical for our organization, our members and our industry. I know I speak for the entire leadership team of ACC, our board and staff when I say that we’re looking forward to meeting out West this week with a group of people who do what we do for a living - as well as with peers in other functions and organizations that are part of Cable Connection-Fall.
Communications is a core function, across our industry and far beyond it. It’s becoming more complicated and challenging - both because of the expanding array of things we’re talking about and the new communications tools and tactics at our disposal.

The Association of Cable Communicators is laser-focused on elevating this unique blend of science and art to drive the growth and success of cable’s professional communicators and, as a result, the success of our companies and of cable itself.

Jim Maiella is the president of the Association of Cable Communicators and vice president of media relations, cable and communications, for Cablevision Systems.

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