Granted, marketing a records and information management (RIM) program within an organization is not the easiest thing in the world. But it isn't rocket science, either. Still, several silly myths persist and discourage practitioners from making RIM more visible and meaningful to their entire company. (See sidebar: "Major Marketing Myths and How to Dispel Them.")
With a little inspiration and encouragement, however, RIM professionals can dispel the myths and elevate the status of RIM organization-wide in the hearts and minds of their senior executives, managers, and fellow employees.
Marketing Made Simple
Traditional marketing is not really all that traditional anymore, as people must continually find new and unique ways to get other people's attention. Non-traditional, but effective, marketing ploys include:
* Developing a great, short answer to "What do records professionals do?" A lot of people don't have a clue about the role of records professionals, so each records manager needs to develop his/her own short answer. For example, a response to the question, "So, you like filing?" could be, "What I really like is developing systems and processes to help people better manage their records and information and free up their time to create additional value for their organization." This response would help people understand that records management is far more than filing. The more people understand about the role of RIM and of RIM professionals, the easier it will be to implement an organization-wide program.
* Telling people what RIM encompasses. A lot of people don't understand the broad spectrum of areas that RIM affects or the many aspects of a business with which a records professional must be familiar, including such things as network backup strategy, information technology and software, project management, business analysis, facilities management, and space planning. Sharing this information is particularly important to position the function as more than just "doing the filing."
* Giving people tips that will help them in their own work. For example, not everyone realizes that there are ways to organize electronic folders for better productivity. Suggest ways that users suffering from e-mail glut can create inbox subfolders for their projects. Dragging and dropping messages into project folders eliminates the need to wade through all the messages in the inbox to find what is needed and facilitates the elimination of those e-mails that don't need to be retained once the project is complete.
Marketing Through Strategic Alliances
A RIM professional can't do it alone. Implementing and maintaining a solid, successful RIM program requires developing key partnerships with stakeholder groups, such as IT, legal, compliance, business development, and auditing. Each group offers its own view of the world, and gaining insight into these views is important to furthering the RIM program. Knowing the key issues that make other groups "tick" allows learning to take place and enables the RIM program to move forward.
Aligning the RIM organization with these groups can provide benefits for all. For example, the RIM group often finds out after the fact that a decision affecting records retention was made without their input. A common scenario is a department purchasing new database software to manage its line of business and putting records into it that have various retention periods. After the fact, the RIM group learns that the software purchased does not have retention capability and discovers, in fact, that no records can ever be deleted from the system.
Partnerships also can help other groups think of RIM implications before their planned initiatives have been finalized. These strategic alliances should be fostered as early on as possible. Don't wait to be invited into cross-functional groups--RIM professionals may have to invite themselves. …