The Communicators Network: do we need another? Your choice, but I say ‘Yes!’

by Lee Hopkins on June 2, 2007 · 10 comments

in marketing,miscellaneous

Melcrum and Ragan unite???

Melcrum and Ragan are the two big ‘players’ in the ‘Business Communication’ space.

They both publish excellent journals, they both run superb training courses, they are both headed by very smart, very savvy, very passionate business communicators (Mark Ragan in the instance of Ragan [more than just a tad ably assisted by David Murray who oft-underestimates his own abilities] and Robin Crumby, Victoria Mellor et al at Melcrum – all of whom are amazingly friendly people, despite being terribly British sometimes!).

MyRagan launched first and stole the ‘parade march’ from Melcrum’s later arrival, the Communicators Network.

So, as Robin from Melcrum quite rightly asks on his blog, why bother?

As he says,

“Is Melcrum just keeping up with the Joneses and following a fad? Like I said to Neville [Hobson, who interviewed Robin for FIR], was the reason I became a father again in March because Mark Ragan had a baby daughter (congrats again Mark)? Oh p-lease!

“The site you see today is just the beginning. We are still in our beta phase, so you will not see a press release or any marketing about this site. It’s invitation-only. Once we’ve added the ratings and review functionality, this site will acquire a whole new dimension. Why? Because it will allow communicators to list useful resources wherever they are and rate them. So you’ll be able to see the top ten blog, books, podcasts, articles etc for communicators as voted for by you.

“Suddenly, the CommsNetwork becomes not just a place to chat or network, but a goldmine of resources from hundreds of sources, that’s free to use. So instead of just adding to a long list of online communities, it will fulfil its goal:

To aggregate the knowledge, know-how and expertise that lies scattered throughout various groups for professional communicators around the world and share them for the benefit of all

“The CommsNetwork is really all about mass collaboration and advancing the industry by pooling ideas into one easy-to-use directory.”

So Robin and Victoria are already laying down the gauntlet to Ragan — ‘we acknowledge that you beat us to the punch, and have a phenomenal take-up rate, but let’s see how long that level of interest lasts, and we aim to differentiate via an Amazon-like personal recommendation engine.’

Currently MyRagan is like a rag-tag bag of interests and ideas and opinions — much like the professional bodies should be delivering but aren’t (although they are watching keenly and taking note — see Shel’s recent informative post).

The difference between Ragan and Melcrum has always been apparent, but the gap is narrowing. Ragan are very much the North American model — guru spokesperson ‘tells it like it is’ based on years of experience; Melcrum base much of their professional stance on their superb research (there really is no-one who does research better than Melcrum in our field).

But Ragan realise that they are lacking Melcrum’s body of research-based knowledge and are taking steps to rectify that and move up the value chain; Melcrum is similarly recognising that it doesn’t have ‘the people’s touch’ and so are taking steps to move down from the mountain to meet with the rabble of mid/low-level practitioners.

Ragan have ‘sewn up’ North America and are looking to expand their empire; similarly Melcrum have Europe and the UK (don’t start arguing that the UK is part of Europe and should therefore not be segregated — this post will erupt with bitter commentary!) and thus look to capitalise on the head-start they have in Australasia — they’ve even set up offices here in Sydney and deported transported staff across from Blighty to this fair and pleasant land.

Who will put money on Rupert Murdoch coming in and buying both companies, setting up a Ragcrum ["CrumRag" sounds just a tad too low-rent] and monopolising ALL markets? Imagine a time when you can get on the one stage Crescenzo, Holtz, Hobson, Hopkins, Holland, Sinickas, Williams, Goman, Weil and more… oh WHAT a party that will be!

In the meantime I will watch with interest the activities of both enterprises.

Bottom line

So do I believe there is value in what Melcrum are offering with their Communicators’ Network? Absolutely!

Competition never hurt anyone — at the end of the day, all of us who have been around the block a couple of times know that today’s current ‘groovy’ thing is tomorrow’s fish and chip wrapper. Innovation is the key — in Castells & Cardoso (*), Luc Soete argues convincingly that where the USA ‘has it’ (and significantly so) over Europe in terms of ‘economic productivity’ is that the USA is not afraid to let go of old-scale intensive industrial activity and instead embrace innovation and creative destruction.

What Melcrum must do — and I am sure they have some creative input from many bright both young and experienced minds on this — is redefine, in the same way that the professional organisations must, what it is that they fundamentally ‘stand’ for, their ethics, their values, their raison d’être.

Which is why I support and encourage the existence of the Communicators’ Network — competition is key to delivering the best outcome.

After all, “it’s the fish John West reject…” and so it must be with we Business Communicators: we reject (because of time constraints) that which serves us the least.

—–

* Soete, L. (2006), Chapter 5: Innovation, Technology and Productivity: Why Europe lags behind the United States and why various European economies differ in Innovation and Productivity. In Castells, M. & Cardoso, G. (Eds.) The Network Society: From knowledge to policy. Center for Transatlantic Relations, Washington DC; pp.125-146.


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  • http://blog.ragan.com/shadesofgray/ David Murray

    A truly astute analysis here, Lee, as usual.

    However, my dear friend and rival Steve Crescenzo will be deeply interested to know how it is that I often “underestimate” my abilities.

    He would say quite the opposite, and I rush to post this, probably minutes before he does.

  • http://blog.ragan.com/shadesofgray/ David Murray

    A truly astute analysis here, Lee, as usual.

    However, my dear friend and rival Steve Crescenzo will be deeply interested to know how it is that I often “underestimate” my abilities.

    He would say quite the opposite, and I rush to post this, probably minutes before he does.

  • Steve Crescenzo

    Lee:

    Wonderful post, and a wonderful breakdown of Ragan and Melcrum.

    Though I did do a bit of a spit take when I read that David Murray underestimates his ability.

    David and I have been friends for 15 years. Fierce friends. I stayed at his house while going through my divorce. He stood up in my wedding (the second one, after the divorce). We’ve punched each other, flipped tables on each other, and generally love each other very much.

    I say this to show you that nobody, but NOBODY, in this field knows David better than I do.

    And the next time David underestimates his talents or abilities will be the first.

    David’s talents and abilities are awesome. They can be intimidating. When he’s at the top of his game, his talents and abilities are nothing short of remarkable.

    And he estimates them as exactly that.

    Steve Crescenzo

  • Steve Crescenzo

    Lee:

    Wonderful post, and a wonderful breakdown of Ragan and Melcrum.

    Though I did do a bit of a spit take when I read that David Murray underestimates his ability.

    David and I have been friends for 15 years. Fierce friends. I stayed at his house while going through my divorce. He stood up in my wedding (the second one, after the divorce). We’ve punched each other, flipped tables on each other, and generally love each other very much.

    I say this to show you that nobody, but NOBODY, in this field knows David better than I do.

    And the next time David underestimates his talents or abilities will be the first.

    David’s talents and abilities are awesome. They can be intimidating. When he’s at the top of his game, his talents and abilities are nothing short of remarkable.

    And he estimates them as exactly that.

    Steve Crescenzo

  • http://leehopkins.net/ Lee Hopkins

    But Steve, he was so humble and meek when I met him in Sydney (just before he got us thrown out of the bar – at breakfast time!)

  • http://leehopkins.net Lee Hopkins

    But Steve, he was so humble and meek when I met him in Sydney (just before he got us thrown out of the bar – at breakfast time!)

  • http://www.melcrumblog.com/ Alex Manchester

    Great analysis there Lee and it’s clear already that there’s massive potential in both The Communicator’s Network and MyRagan. Competition aside I think it’s going to be great to see how both sites develop.

    Also, I have to say in terms of deporting/transporting people to Australia from the UK, I don’t think it’s too difficult to find people willing to make the journey! Having moved in to our new office today right in the heart of Sydney, we’re very happy to be here and look forward to developing things on this side of the world.

    Speak to you soon no doubt.

    Alex

  • http://www.melcrumblog.com Alex Manchester

    Great analysis there Lee and it’s clear already that there’s massive potential in both The Communicator’s Network and MyRagan. Competition aside I think it’s going to be great to see how both sites develop.

    Also, I have to say in terms of deporting/transporting people to Australia from the UK, I don’t think it’s too difficult to find people willing to make the journey! Having moved in to our new office today right in the heart of Sydney, we’re very happy to be here and look forward to developing things on this side of the world.

    Speak to you soon no doubt.

    Alex

  • http://blog.ragan.com/shadesofgray/ David Murray

    Lee, what you experienced was my “humble and meek” act. Yet another of my awesome and intimidating abilities. As I was asking you to teach me how to operate a video camera tripod, I was thinking to myself, “I OWN Hopkins.”

  • http://blog.ragan.com/shadesofgray/ David Murray

    Lee, what you experienced was my “humble and meek” act. Yet another of my awesome and intimidating abilities. As I was asking you to teach me how to operate a video camera tripod, I was thinking to myself, “I OWN Hopkins.”

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