Communicators: Tell management what can’t be communicated

Communicators have to stop being hired guns

In Hollywood Westerns, the hired gun is called in to clean up the town after problems have spun out of control. (The problems usually involve a cattle baron.) More often than not, communicators are the hired guns of business. Unless they have that coveted “seat at the table,” they are never part of the decisions they’ll wind up having to communicate. Even then, leaders often make misguided decisions and think the communications team can spin gold from them.

This hired-gun mentality is a key reason for PR’s reputation as spin doctors. The expectation from leadership: “We screwed up. Make it sound okay.”

In today’s environment, that… Read More »

One thing HR needs to do to make work a great experience

Who in HR answers when employees call?

There is nothing new about the notion that Human Resources staff should adopt a customer service mentality in their dealings with employees. The HR department at Texas A&M, for example, has a page dedicated to the concept on its website, where they claim that HR “is committed to service excellence and we expect our staff to provide excellent customer service at every point of contact.” A piece in the San Francisco Chronicle’s small business section argues that “A customer service mentality in HR requires all HR staff members to deal with employees of the company as internal customers and to see the mission of the HR department as a… Read More »

How to reinvent your internal communications department (before it’s too late)

saving employee communications

The employee communications department is at risk of becoming irrelevant. There already are voices calling for companies to do away with them, arguing that a function focusing on one discrete audience is anachronistic given everybody’s ability to see what everybody else is saying.

I noted in a post about a year ago that BBC’s former HR and Internal Communications Director, Lucy Adams, wrote, “Internal communications as a narrowly defined function and approach is dead.” Gerard Corbett—a PR agency CEO and former honcho at PRSA, wrote that “Maybe it’s time to let go of ‘internal’ and ‘employee’ as modifiers of communications to… Read More »

Friday Wrap #183: More Twitter characters, new native ad guidelines,CEOs’ engagement failure

Friday Wrap #183Happy new year to Friday Wrap readers! In 2015, we had the uncommon experience of both Christmas and New Year’s falling on Fridays, so the Wrap took a break. I hope your break was rewarding and refreshing. As a result of the two-week break, this week’s Wrap is longer than usual, as my collection of items covers three weeks instead of just one. Also, I have noticed a lot of new subscribers to the Wrap; a very warm welcome to all of you! The Wrap is my weekly collection of news stories, posts, studies, and reports designed to help organizational communicators stay current on the trends and technology that affect their jobs. These may be… Read More »

Build emotional capital to grow employee engagement

To engage employees, make them cry

A brief video played at a corporate managers meeting nearly a quarter century ago has stuck with me. I’d be willing to bet real money that it has stuck with others who saw it at that meeting. It speaks volumes about what it means to make work an experience for an organization’s employees.

Somewhere around 1991 or 92—while I was heading up corporate communications for Allergan in Irvine, California—the time to plan the quarterly managers meeting rolled around. These were usually held in a ballroom at Hilton hotel not far from the company’s offices, which didn’t have a space large enough to accommodate everyone with a manager-or-above… Read More »

Millennials crave in-person conversation

Face-to-face conversation is alive and well

Oh, those pesky Millennials. So much blame is heaped on people born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s for a culture where conversation is deteriorating and everybody is texting. “We never talk anymore,” the complaint goes. MIT social studies professor Sherry Turkle has even written a book about it, alarmingly titled, “Reclaiming Conversation.” Meanwhile, recognizing that the highly coveted Millennial market is busy texting away, companies are tripping over themselves to adopt technologies that will reach them.

In fact, businesses routinely tout the brilliance of technologies that eliminate the need for actual conversation.… Read More »

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