New media, social media, no matter what we call it everybody loves it. It is revolutionizing communications with the public and within organizations. Whole theories of management are developing on how leaders have to use new media tools to run their organizations.
But there is a flaw in how it is usually portrayed and I fear how it is understood. New media is often treated as a technique, section or method that is separable from the rest of the organization. Organizations have computing and IT departments, why not a new media department? Create a capacity, put some specialists in charge of it, and then let it work on its own.
The problem is that the new media already permeates everything & cannot be separated or put on autopilot. It cannot be deployed by management and then left to do its work because communication is the essence of management and the new media has become integral to communications. If leadership gives the new media to someone else, they will also be giving them the real leadership.
I am not saying that the boss will need to master all the nuts-and-bolts of the technologies. The beauty of the new media is that the applications have become much simpler as the technologies have become more complicated. Most people do not understand how their car or their telephones work – technically – but they can use them just fine.
I remember hearing a story about a guy who wanted a garden that would just take care of itself while he would get the benefit of flowers, fruits and vegetables. It just doesn’t work that way. The gardener can pass some of the digging and hoeing to others but he has to specify the types of produce he wants and has to understand enough about the system to know what results he can expect. The analogy with new media is that leadership has to be using the new media. You cannot get the advantages of real time, hands-on experience by reading the report a couple of weeks later. You cannot just deploy and forget. There is no garden w/o a gardener.
I did recently find this somewhat contrary opinion, however.