• Sam Decker

Who Owns Word of Mouth in an Organization?

At this year’s Word of Mouth Marketing Association Summit (WOMMA) on November 14/15 in Las Vegas, one of the topics will be “who owns word of mouth?”

Is it one person in PR or advertising? Product development? Someone on the web team? In some companies it’s someone in PR, who is responsible for blogger relations. But in my opinion, that’s a tiny fraction of word of mouth on a typical fortune 500 brand.

In some companies, as it was at Dell, the word of mouth ‘owner’ was someone in advertising who created viral / buzz campaigns. Typically what happens is word of mouth tends to be about the advertising or marketing (not the product. Advertising can amplify word of mouth if the product is good (and they do it right), but if the product/service is no good, advertising effectiveness declines over time.

Should word of mouth have an owner? I believe the lack of appreciating and impact for word of mouth is usually because the owner owner is not senior enough and the strategy not broad enough. I believe that word of mouth needs part of many functions’ operational roles….product development, marketing, advertising, PR, and especially customer service. Perhaps having one owner, especially too low, means other people don’t feel the ownership. Perhaps the CEO and CMO needs to own word of mouth, and thread it throughout the entire company as a part of the culture. That’s my vote.

What’s yours?

Join the discussion on this and other Word of Mouth hot issues and great debates at WOMMA’s 2007 Summit, November 13-15 in Las Vegas. Get the agenda now> (www.womma.org/summit3)

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