Is a CM part of Marketing?

I had a great time the other night having dinner with Sam Houston, Community Manager of GamerDNA. (Check out his Twitter) I had a great time talking with him about Community Management and what is really was, and where it seems to be going. I’m young, as is pointed out to me a lot these days, and therefore inexperienced, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t talk about how I see Community Management. Actually, I think it’s a plus that I haven’t been in a Community role for very long, because I haven’t yet stabilized into a day-to-day role, and therefore my view of the Community team is constantly changing.

When I get asked what my job is post-college, I always have to explain in more depth what I will be doing as an Online Community Representative. Currently, in order to keep it simple, I just say “It’s a little bit of marketing, a little bit of PR.” It doesn’t really explain what an OCR is, but it is enough to keep my family satisfied. But Sam and I got to talking about whether a CM really belongs under a Marketing/PR umbrella, and I came out of the conversation really thinking that it does fall under it. Public Relations is exactly that: forming (and maintaining) a relationship between the public and the company. In my mind, that’s EXACTLY what the Community team does. We are, in some respects, the “face” of the company, in that the majority of players interact directly with us on a day-to-day basis. When people run to the forums to post about something, most of the time (with various exceptions depending on which company you are talking about), you’ll be interacting with the Community team. At Flying Lab, most of the posts on the forums were from me (Community Liaison), Dani (Forum Administrator), Aegir (Community Intern), and Rhaegar (Community Lead). There were various other developers who posted when a response was necessary, but besides that, we were the ones the community tended to know the best.

Some people get pissed off when you describe Community Management as a Marketing/PR position. I can’t understand that. Maybe someone can explain it to me. How can you deny that a position which is required to interact with the public on a regular basis doesn’t have anything to do with Public Relations? I’m not saying that the job doesn’t extend beyond PR. I’m just saying that I don’t see how a person can deny that it falls under that category of PR in the first place.

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