In this age of information, digital communications are perhaps the most vital form of outreach an organization has for presenting itself to the world. Today it is probably more likely that a person’s first experience or interaction with your organization will occur through the Internet. Digital spaces are where reputations are built and managed now.
There are no shortages of services and materials for building a digital presence, whether it is on the Web or a social network; however there does seem to be less focus on how these presences will be managed and maintained after they are built. This is the all-important and too often neglected role of governance for digital communications, otherwise known as the ownership, management, and sustainability plan for an organization’s various digital communications platforms.
Governance seems simple at a distance – it is the set of rules an organization will follow for its digital communications – but the devil is in the detail, and the details are precisely where the process of defining a governance plan becomes prickly. The details are also where many will become bogged down, lose momentum, and set the plans aside, never to be addressed again until a problem arises.
To help get you started, or to keep you on track, developing a governance plan for your institution’s digital communications, I have put together a guide that outlines many of the questions you will want to answer in thinking through policies and guidelines in your governance plan. This guide is based largely on work I have done in higher education, but I have altered it considerably to make it as general as possible for broad use across industries. If nothing else, it is a good start for thinking about the kinds of issues that your organization faces.