Posts Tagged ‘employee’

Write for Clarity

Friday, July 15th, 2011
The Vocal Crowd

Top Left to Bottom Right: @MikeBrice, @PointsofRue, @ABGooen, @MHuras, @JGombita, @RobertJHolland, @Melissa_Novak and @CommAMMO.

Twitter chats are an important reason I use the microblogging service, and as moderator of #ICchat I get to participate in really interesting discussions with people I otherwise wouldn’t know.  So when I asked Robert J. Holland to be our guest for the 14 July discussion on writing, I was remedying an issue. I’d read Robert’s stuff for some time, whether through IABC or Ragan, or the comments pages on David Murray’s excellent blog, but we’d never met. I’m glad that #ICchat took care of that issue!

The chat featured 207 tweets that generated 226,696 impressions, reaching an audience of 9,326 followers.  (Stats via HashTracking.com. Whether that means much I’m not sure, but it’s interesting.)

We started with a somewhat obvious question, though I asked it sincerely:

@CommAMMO: Q1: With social media, texting and instant messaging, is writing still important for internal comms? #icchat

@melissa_novak thought it was a “silly” question — and maybe she’s right.

@RobertJHolland Social media presents new challenges. Content must be even more clear, precise, understandable. #icchat

@MikeBrice @CommAMMO writing is the foundation for all. #icchat

@JGombita @robertjholland social media (especially Twitter) has helped make my writing less flabby. Brevity is the soul of platform width. 🙂 #icchat

@CommAMMO I happen to think that writing is a foundation skill for business in general, and many CEOs agree (see @nytimes “corner office”) #icchat

As I told Melissa, you’d be astonished at some of the things I’ve heard and read about writing and its role in modern public relations in general — I personally don’t see how any communicator, especially in internal communication, can be less than excellent as a writer. That’s not to say that everyone has to be brilliant — just that words are a big part of our executional requirements.

@MikeBrice: SM may help with shorter writing but I think it hurts writers who forget how important it is to provide detailed descriptions #icchat

@RobertJHolland: Writing with brevity but also providing all the important details takes work, no doubt. #icchat

@RobertJHolland:  Mark Twain: “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” #icchat

@RobertJHolland: That’s how social media are changing writing. Forces us to compartmentalize info, structure info differently, compete for attention #icchat

@ABGooen: Hi, Guys. Joining in. Two keys to good writing: audience analysis and message validation. Lots of “writers” don’t do it. #icchat

A quick sidebar question about information mapping (the structured process of creating information)  from  @MHuras brought this from Robert:

@RobertJHolland: Anything that gets us to clarity[…]

And that turned into the main theme for the discussion.  Clarity requires organization, solid process, research, economical language…whatever process helps you get there, as long as it doesn’t get in the way.

@RobertJHolland: A2: Don’t get wrapped up in process at expense of clarity, logical flow of ideas, and of course the reader’s enjoyment #icchat

@CommAMMO: I’ve read some on sense-makingappreciative inquiryBarbara Minto’s structures… Agree if it helps w/clarity, use it. #icchat

@JGombita: @robertjholland life lesson from high school English teacher: I don’t know what you meant to write, I only judge & enjoy what I see. #icchat

By now, the time was flying by.

@CommAMMO Q3: Describe your typical approach/process to writing. I usually free-write to start, seldom outline 1st…

@RobertJHolland: A3: Outlines never helped me much. I use them rarely. Process is such a personal thing. Whatever works for you, use it! #icchat

@RobertJHolland: A3: Main thing is to keep focused on the main message. It’s easy to lose the message as u get caught up in story details. #icchat@RobertJHolland: A3: I usually just start writing. But that’s just the first step. The real work is in rewriting, refining, editing. #icchat

@JGombita: @robertjholland alt., leave it alone for a bit (hours, a day). Start fresh with your writing, approaching it from entirely new angle #icchat

@MikeBrice: I start with a lede and nut graph to determine if it is interesting to me to see if it will be interesting to employees #icchat

How bout a specific method, step-by-step?

@ABGooen: @CommAMMO 1. Know who I’m writing for. 2. List five key points. 3. Circle top point/prioritize other points. 4. Write. 5. Revise. #icchat

We also touched on “conversational” writing, judged to be essential for internal comms. But what makes writing conversational?

@RobertJHolland: Use real English, but don’t get sloppy. And for heaven’s sake don’t slip into jargon. #icchat

That can be a challenge when dealing with leaders — some of whom want language to be “elevated” to some kind of lofty, complicated prose. Anyone had that experience?

@PointsofRue: Yes, but I’ve also had a leader keenly push us in that direction because she saw the value of connecting with “average” employees #icchat

@RobertJHolland: Absolutely! It’s a never-ending fight, but it’s our job to fight it. Push for clarity. Jargon rarely leads to clarity. #icchat

@PointsofRue: My response to “you’re dumbing it down” is “no, I’m opening it up” #icchat

@CommAMMO:  @pointsofrue Me: “I’m trying 2demystify leadership, make language more accessible to more ppl.” Boss: “but they don’t want that.” #icchat

@JGombita: Conversational is inclusive. It’s the kind you get at the best dinner parties, lots of give and take. #icchat

That leaves out a lot of good stuff — read the transcript from www.TweetDoc.org, here.

Many thanks to all our participants, and especially to Robert. We’ll resume 8 September. Stay tuned for the time of day. Cheers for now!

 

 

 

 

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Social Media Making Inroads Internally

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

A festive #ICChat on 16 June raced through the portfolio of social media tools that @GEHealthcare is putting to use for internal communications, thanks to special guest Ilene Rosen, who manages communication technology for the company.

Rosen (@irosen) notes that as a heavily regulated industry, it might seem that user-generated content and tools that promote unfiltered dialogue would be shunned, but not so. GE healthcare remains extremely cautious about external use of such tools, though Rosen helps the comms team employ them both internally and as appropriate, externally. On the internal side, the company uses Blogs, Wikis and discussion forums effectively.

@irosen               I have a great job @gehealthcare. I help our comms ppl match the right techtools to their comms strategy and offer support/training #icchat

@irosen               My background is primarily in intranets, web production and content management #icchat

Rather than using third-party software, Rosen says GE Healthcare uses custom products>

@irosen               Q1: The majority of our tools are “homegrown” vs off the shelf/enterprise. #icchat

Video is increasing in importance for @GEHealthcare:

@irosen               Q1: An internal video platform will be launching within a few weeks as well #icchat

@csledzik @irosen Was video platform a response to having a lot of video content already? Or in anticipation of having a lot more video? #icchat

@irosen               @CommAMMO We generate many videos in Comms but were just hosting them on a server with no ways to measure them @csledzik #icchat

@irosen               We have been cooking the idea for a few years for the videohub and Corporate GE found a great solution that we are all excited about #icchat

Judy Jones, a first-time participant (Thanks!) asked a really good question:

@redjudy Do you find that IT pushes back on your ideas? And if so do you have a method to address their concerns? #icchat

@irosen               @redjudy we have a good relationship w/ IT and value their input as a partner so if they raise an issue, there is a good reason #icchat

@CommAMMO .@irosen @redjudy Big win for us at Goodyear was building rela w/IT, esp CIO-finding comm ground. Many IT issues are similar 2comms #icchat

Relationship-building has always been a critical skill for internal communicators, but it’s never been more important to partner with IT (and HR) than now.  The tools are more sophisticated and dynamic (how hard was it to read a magazine?) – and being a bridge between the technical and editorial could be a career growth strategy all its own.

@irosen               Part of my job is 2 educate people on the tools and empower them- but need 2b realistic, not everyone is comfortable with technology #icchat

@irosen               Blogging is a good example – It is easy for me to blog, but there are ppl who c all the “bells and whistles” etc and freeze up… #icchat

@irosen               @CommAMMO Every tool that is rolled out, we make sure training is available – sometimes by myself and sometimes outside the team #icchat

@irosen               I also maintain a wiki for basic educational/training/how to tips that I encourage my team members to contribute to #icchat

Why use these tools internally?

@irosen               The ultimate goal we want 2 reach is 2 have the same web experience internally as empl have when they go home &boot up their laptops #icchat

@CommAMMO               .@redjudy @irosen can’t say enough how import it is to match work comm tools w/home expectns. New gen of wrkrs won’t have it othwys #icchat

Darn straight. We’re in competition for share of mind.

If blogs, wikis and discussion groups are working, what isn’t?

@JPChurch:        A2: We’ve tried podcasting, but hasn’t really taken off … not sure why. Time? Too many other options? Need more research. #icchat

@irosen               Q2: hmmm….hard to say but if I had to pick one it would be podcasts. Email is still the killer app (no surprise there) #icchat

@jgombita @CommAMMO I’m making an educated guess here, but my guess is “tagging” photos and videos, etc. #icchat

@Wedge #icchat @jgombita I find more people are getting to grips with tagging on the #intranet and those people evagelise!

@csledzik            @jgombita People don’t understand benefits of metadata — they just get frustrated when they can’t find something. #icchat

What about technology to help employees collaborate?

@irosen               We have an internal collaboration tool that has not really taken off – #icchat

@irosen               Techy companies are going be all over collab platforms while we may not be – and that’s ok #icchat

There’s more in the transcript (thanks to www.searchhash.com) that’s well worth reading.  Find it HERE.

Join us 14 July for another edition of #icchat – and follow @commammo on Twitter for info about our special guest, and the time of day of the chat.

Thanks to all participants — @christyseason @johndeeretara @twistina @domcrincoli @chris_pb @allthingsic @ericakei  — and those quoted above.

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Video for Internal Communications Is Still Relevant

Monday, May 23rd, 2011
Kodak Zi8

Image courtesy of Kodak

We’ve heard all the declarations. Internal Communications is corporate propaganda, and employees get the real story through the media. The media is dead, buried by social media. Employees care only about their pay and benefits, not about the organization and its business. Employees don’t want to read; we’re viewers. Employees won’t watch company video, and if we let them access YouTube, they’ll waste time all day.

Steve Lubetkin -- Photo by FrankVeronsky.com

There’s just enough truth in each of those statements to make people believe them. And it’s the video question that animated #icchat 19 May, with @PodcastSteve, audio/video expert Steve Lubetkin, as special guest.

The overriding theme of the chat, which extended more than 20 minutes after the scheduled one-hour time frame, was that lower-cost and higher-quality equipment is making video in the workplace more effective. That’s whether it’s professionally produced or user-generated. Even Steve’s equipment of choice has improved in quality while lowering in cost.

@PodcastSteve: A1 Biggest change is drop in cost & increase in quality of lowend equip. I srtd out using Sony VX-1000 SD cams. #icchat

@PodcastSteve: A1 …now I use Kodak Zi series and PlayTouch for much of the work. #icchat

@MikeBrice

Participant @MikeBrice noted that IT departments are now making bandwidth available for video, what he called the biggest change he’s seen.

@podcaststeve: Bandwidth and server space issues are IT bugaboos. But with YouTube, Blip, Vimeo for hosting, I dont see why. #icchat

@CommAMMO: Agreed — if GM can distribute a full-on news program to a factory in Ecuador, why can’t we get 90 sec to Nebraska? #icchat

However, accessing the video has presented some issues, @Mike said:

@MikeBrice External sources like YouTube and Vimeo raise firewall issues. My corps block access to external options. Security a concern #icchat

@PodcastSteve:  Best way 2 get video 2 NE, IMNSHO, would be to host externally, create pages on internal (intranet?) & embed player. #icchat

External hosting but internal access is a compelling argument — especially because most material shared widely with employees must be considered “public” anyway.

@PodcastSteve: @mikebrice They usually block ppl from visiting sites, true, but maybe U can get them 2 open ports to allow embedded vids to stream? #icchat

@PodcastSteve: there r other alternatives like BrightCove, but frightfully expensive for most companies. #icchat

I’ve looked at a number of distribution solutions — Kontiki, Cisco’s digital signage, for example — and indeed, the costs can be significant. However, I’ve also had success engaging the usual constituencies with a goal of finding a solution.

@CommAMMO: @podcaststeve @mikebrice so much of  “security” concerns are abt control – I’ve gotten traction talking abt EE expectations #icchat

@CommAMMO: @podcaststeve @mikebrice Employees expect the internal resources to match what they have at home – search, audio, video… #icchat

@PodcastSteve: @commammo […]Key issue IT needs to understand. Emps can’t be engaged w/customers if socmed blocked. #icchat

Steve says costs can vary — the do-it-yourself route, with Flip cams or his fave, the Kodak Zi series, is less expensive and offers acceptable quality. A production company and professionals may offer good value at higher cost depending on the situation.

@ArchanaVerma

IABC’s @ArchanaVerma asks:

@ArchanaVerma: @CommAMMO @podcaststeve Q What’s the balance betw having professionally produced versus amateur videos for internal/external use? #icchat

@PodcastSteve: Int Comms ppl can do themselves w/o spending a lot. I do a lot of interview clips w/just Kodaks. See http://ow.ly/4YhB2 #icchat

@PodcastSteve: @commammo @archanaverma Doesn’t have to be “amateur,” but certainly doesn’t have to be high-end pro produced unless needed 4 b’cast #icchat

@PodcastSteve: My point, u can learn pro techniques and use them with lower end equipment. Doesn’t have to look bad because you’re not @NewMediaJim #icchat

I use 4 Kodaks, edit in Sony Vegas Pro. We sync extrnl audio, looks like I had a 6-person crew. #icchat Example – http://ow.ly/4YhPd

Steve also notes that internal communications people enhance their credibility when they can DIY, especially because as internal resources, we can cover our organizations better than anyone else.

@gypsyNits

@GypsyNits: me thinks every #intcomms person becomes at pro at self serve, qlty improves with time #icchat

@PodcastSteve: @commammo Few cos have luxury of hiring b’cast pros for internal video any more, but almost not needed for daily video. #icchat

@GypsyNits: in the midst of doing a production myself.everyday is a learning and i know next time i will rock at it #icchat

@GypsyNits: not to mention the goodwill and the employee connect from having attempted it myself.everyone is more accomodating #icchat

Returning to employee expectations, @GypsyNits makes a good point: With more and more user generated content available alongside the professional stuff (and in some cases considered more creative and interesting), useful video isn’t limited only to top-notch, broadcast quality.

Judy Gombita

When it comes to length of video, what’s the right time?  @JGombita offered her view:

@JGombita: (As end-user, not producer) make sure yr videos are SHORT (UNDER 2 minutes). And make it a supplementary comms channel, not only one #icchat

@PodcastSteve: @jgombita I agree with short up to a point. For daily news blips or features, yes. Sometimes longer is called for. #icchat

@PodcastSteve: Examples of longer form video: keynote speeches, conference panels, storytelling documentaries used for fundraising #icchat

@CommAMMO: @jgombita @podcaststeve re length: But we still watch TV, films, news-topic, presentn drives viewership. Talking heads, not so good. #icchat

@JGombita: @podcaststeve in terms of amount of material it may be called for, but I can tell you, you’ve lost most (or all) of my attn. at 2+ m #icchat

Where is video going, more, less, or the same?

@GypsyNits: Q3: more video.it opens up the channels of using mobile to send msgs & podcasts too where folks dont have to read lengthy emails #icchat

@JGombita: A3. Supplementary video! Example: a video featuring HR or legal rep, indicating the rationale behind a company social media policy. #icchat

@GypsyNits: Q3:But thin line between too much video and too little.essential to gauge audience receptiveness from time to time #icchat

@PodcastSteve: @jgombita Intl comms ppl shud be like thos journalists, understand how to tell a story with images, video, etc. Not just heds. #icchat

@PodcastSteve: @jgombita Making videos the aud wants means ASKING them. Research! #icchat

Hallelujah! We should start with research to ensure we address the need of the audience as well as that of our organization. Otherwise we’re going to fail.

There’s more in the transcript — which is a bit less attractive than in past chats owing to the demise of WTHashtag. However, thanks to @JoBrodie, www.searchhash.com was able to give us a transcript. It doesn’t archive, and the output contains a lengthy numerical identifier for each tweet, but it’s usable and I’m grateful!

The next #ICChat is June 16 – I’m considering whether to change the time of day from 10 a.m. Eastern — I did a Twitter poll on this question last month, but only four people voted!  What time would be best for you? Follow me at @CommAMMO for updates.

 

 

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Blog-cation coming to a close…

Saturday, May 14th, 2011
Portage Lakes, Ohio

By Sean Williams, All Rights Reserved

I’ve committed a grievous sin in social media land. I’ve taken a bit of a Sabbatical from blogging and mostly, from Tweeting, with a few exceptions. Now I have a bit more time on my hands, as I wait to see what my schedule is like for a big research project and the response to a couple of proposals. So, I’m intending to babble on a bit more in the coming days.  One such venue will be Thursday’s #icchat, the Twitter-based discussion on internal communications that I conduct monthly.  Join us at 10 a.m. eastern on 19 October.

I’ve not done a great job marketing the chat — it’s not as sexy as #measurepr, #PR20Chat or #Kaizenblog, I guess because it’s more concerned with internal matters than social media and press relations.  However, we do have good discussions on our topic, so I hope you’l join us…

 

 

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Internal Communications Needs the Right Outcomes

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

Gotta hit the bullseye (creative commons)

Ask a batch of internal communicators what their objectives are and you might get a batch of interesting answers.  My educated guess is that most of the time, they’ll be outputs – do “this” many intranet articles on that business unit, do “that” many issues of the newsletter – or they’ll be hopelessly general – support the benefits rollout, add value to the sales process.

To forestall such time-wasters, in the last #icchat, the Twitter-based discussion on internal communications, we focused on internal comms outcomes.  We surely can describe what happened in the chat as a chat – there were five participants (see my previous post for the musings that this fact prompted) – and we learned a fair amount. Here’s a rundown.

@CommAMMO: The topic today is outcomes — Q1: what do you consider your primary #internalcommunications end-results? #icchat

@csledzik A1: Don’t want to derail the convo by using the word but: engagement. Defined as awareness & alignment w/ org. goals & strategis. #icchat

@BaehrNecessity A1: Have to agree with Chris. Moving the needle on awareness and behavior toward organizational goals. #icchat

That was easy.  Full agreement that both awareness and alignment were critical outcomes. We’re differentiating those sort of outcomes from business results – it’s the outputs-outtakes-outcomes or outputs-outcomes-business results meme.

How do we enact those communication outcomes?

@BaehrNecessity A1: Publishing stories of employees who exemplify ideal behaviors. #icchat

@csledzik @CommAMMO Explaining strategies is a good 1st step! Needs to be current: Qrtly [interviews] of Execs reinforcing msg, noting changes. #icchat

@BaehrNecessity A1: Writing articles that break down co goals one by one, and identifying what employees can do to help co achieve each one. #icchat

@CommAMMO @BaehrNecessity Connecting employee behavior to org goals is often hardest part – esp if in non-revenue area #icchat

@csledzik On that note, pairing bonus programs/merit pay to communication is key. *IF* these programs are structured around goals/objectives. #icchat

Chris makes an important point. We need to be “all-in” with our HR colleagues to make these things stick – for some reason, many companies are reluctant to include communication skills in the portfolio of requirements for managers.  Yet, research shows that many performance issues are a consequence of poor communication.  Communication is a vital part of management.

The second question dealt with one of my major themes – connecting communication outcomes to business results.

@CommAMMO Q2: When planning #internalcommunications, how do you ensure links to business outcomes? (activities/tactics?) #icchat

@BaehrNecessity A2: Create calendar that hilites all goals/strategies & when best to communicate each. Revisit weekly/monthly to stay on track. #icchat

@Adhib A2: First, listen. Your people can tell you what implications there are #icchat

@BaehrNecessity A2: We had story database where submitter had to select related strategy at time of entry. #icchat

@BaehrNecessity A2: We also had regular employee surveys to check on engagement with key issues. #icchat

@CommAMMO @BaehrNecessity Editorial calendars are great – we struggled to keep up with the daily demands, but did lgr series time2time #icchat

@CommAMMO @BaehrNecessity Yah, the key (imo) is laying out a map that includes comms side roads – still heading to objs, but flexible. #icchat

The planning process should include end-clients of your internal comms work. Stakeholders include the leaders running the businesses you support, and their goals/objectives need representation in your process. So, too, do the ordinary employees expected to implement.

@jgombita @CommAMMO A2. Yesterday was informed during #brandchat: Perspective is communication as the overarching idea, tools are marketing/PR.#icchat

This is a very tactical view of our work, and Judy’s depression at having everything lumped together tactically is a drag! Hence, Q3:

@CommAMMO Q3 – how well integrated is your internal comms function with rest of comms? With overall org? #icchat

@csledzik Extremely well. It’s me. 😉 RT @CommAMMO: Q3 – how well integrated is your internal comms function with rest of comms? #icchat

@jgombita @CommAMMO convo started w/ person saying his marketing dept. responsible for all “messaging.” I said not all messaging was marketing #icchat

@CommAMMO @jgombita Seeing more and more orgs where head comm’n officer is “Marketing & Comms>” #icchat

@jgombita @CommAMMO that’s what I thought. But the @iabc research centre team headed up by pal Fraser Likely apparently found otherwise. Yea! #icchat

The ongoing battle between marketing and the rest of us over “control” is so much navel-gazing – many folks are disgusted with the whole process (see our friends at @CommScrum, e.g.) But @BethHarte and the integrated marketing communications people keep pushing the notion forward that marketing is supreme. Even my esteemed colleague at Kent State University, Dr. Bob Batchelor, is a devotee of the concept.

@jgombita @CommAMMO A3. my observation is it depends whether IC ultimately reports to HR or corporate communications. #icchat

@CommAMMO @jgombita @BaehrNecessity big issue w/integration is resource alloc – Media Relations sucks up $$, IntComs left scrabbling #icchat

@jgombita @CommAMMO @BaehrNecessity but “media relations” only a sub-set of #PR. (And media relations usually cheaper than advertising…). #icchat

@evamaierhofer @jgombita cheaper than advertising but the first postition to be cut when it comes to redundancies…isn’t it? #icchat

@jgombita @evamaierhofer not in my experience. More likely senior/strategic PR person cut and a more junior media relations specialist hired. #icchat

@Adhib Comms functions rank in order of potential pain for C-suite: usually customers, IR, PR, emps … got to raise emps up the list #icchat

We didn’t solve the issues, but we surfaced a ton – join us when we meet again, May 19, 10 a.m. North American Eastern Time.  And, weigh in on your “best time” for #icchat – take the poll: http://twtpoll.com/9xlkbq .

 

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When they’re not buying what you’re selling…

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

Creative Commons

One harsh reality of social media is that you find out pretty quickly where you stand.  One fairly obvious reality is that the Twitter chat I’ve been working on for a while now — #icchat on internal communications – isn’t exactly setting the world on fire.

This is a little depressing for me, personally. But I shouldn’t be surprised. The truth is, the dearth of participation is traceable to a central problem. Me.

You have to shepherd these things – the most popular and vigorous get a ton of promotional support, and the topic of communication within the enterprise isn’t a social media hotbed.  Nonetheless, we’ve had some great discussions, peaking last fall with about 20 participants and more than 200 tweets. Even the smaller chats have been good, including Thursday’s intimate affair (five of us) where we talked about internal communication outcomes.  (Summary post coming, probably on Friday.)

I am conflicted, however, about whether to continue #icchat.  As I have mentioned, for the past (nearly) two years, I’ve considered social media an experiment, particularly Twitter and blogging. Facebook’s become merely a communication medium, but Twitter’s chat function represents my favorite part of the miniblogging tool.  I like the quick pace, the forced brevity. I like the diversity — #PR20Chat, #KaizenBlog, #MeasurePR, #SoloPR.

But I have to tell you – when one gets paying work, it’s bloody hard to market the chat.  I’ve been fortunate to have pretty steady gigs over the past eight months – both academic and professional. I’ve looked at different days and times to try and hit the best, but it’s been most difficult to get people interested.  I’m disappointed that the organizations – PRSA, IABC – and the commercial groups – Ragan, Melcrum – show not the slightest inclination to participate. I’ve also approached a couple of luminaries in the internal comms space about guesting, but after four or five straight scheduling conflicts, I’d better take the hint.

It is remarkably similar to building a business – it takes a while and takes a lot of effort to market.

To that end, I can’t help but wonder whether to pull the plug on #icchat.  I seem to be doing well at building my business (thanks to some terrific colleagues), am considered a worthy professor and still have a healthy marriage, so perhaps #icchat is odd man out. Gotta think about it some more.  So far, I’m planning to hit it one more time, at least, 19 May at 10 a.m. Eastern Time.

I’m interested in your perspectives.

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Two Twitter Chats: #MeasurePR Tues., #ICChat 21 April

Monday, April 11th, 2011

This Tuesday, 12 April, I pinch hit moderating the #MeasurePR Twitter discussion at 12 Noon Eastern, batting for the estimable @Shonali Burke. We’re going to talk B.A.D. measurement — BS, AllWet and Dumb.  It’s a continuation of  a theme for me — there’s so much crap measurement and stupid metrics that we need to squash, it’s worth chatting about. Who knows, maybe we’ll get some folks who disagree!  #MeasurePR is at 12 Noon, Tuesday, 12 April.  Secondly, a week from Thursday, 21 April, is the return of #ICChat on internal communications.  Frankly, the participation’s been a little light — maybe not enough internal commsters are on Twitter, or maybe it’s not a creative enough topic from me. Or, I haven’t marketed it enough. Whatever. If you want to talk Internal Comms, join us at 10 a.m. Eastern Time on 21 April.

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Employers shocked, shocked, that morale is low

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

In what can be described only as a stunning command of the obvious, a MetLife study shows that workers are growing restive as the economy rebounds from three years of struggle, and that employers are oblivious.

A story in the 28 March edition of USA Today quotes a psychologist saying that workers are stressed after watching co-workers get fired, being told to take on more work for the same pay, and longer hours. The MetLife veep is quoted (nice pop, MetLife PR!) saying that business’s understandable focus on financial matters has led to it ignoring human factors. It is pretty easy to be a “best employer” when the tide is in and Wall Street rocking.

There’s even an indirect from Towers Watson saying that companies are having a hard time “attracting employees with critical skills.”

How can any company say they’re surprised by these results? Add in a healthy dose of capitalist excess in the form of higher executive pay and you have a combustible mixture of anger and envy alongside the feeling that you need to leave to be appreciated.  During a downturn, people are OK with making less money — they indeed are just happy to have a job. After their sacrifice (which is how they see it), when the picture turns better, they expect to make up lost ground — the 3% raise isn’t enough — they didn’t get a raise for two years, so now they want 9% to pick up the slack. But Wall Street will punish any company that lets its fixed costs leap up like that!

Where’s a leader, though, who’ll redirect his or her whacking huge bonus to throw a bit more on the regular employee pile? How about a one-time 401(k) contribution? Maybe a small bonus to show the boss notices the dedication of the past few years?

If they can’t see how the tough stuff hurt loyalty and morale, they don’t deserve to be in business.

 

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Lies, Damn Lies, & Stinking Loads of …

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

Courtesy CBS Interactive & Star Trek

Remember that Star Trek episode where Captain Kirk is stuck on some barren planet with a 9-foot Godzilla-like lizard, and the two of them are supposed to fight rather than their respective armies? The big lizard hisses, “I grow weary of the chase. Wait for me — I will make it quick, and painless(sssss). That’s how I’m feeling about measuring social media right now.

It would be so easy to just give in.

I’ve been pondering how to measure influence, in particular, after a spirited discussion on both Justin Goldsborough’s and Shonali Burke’s blogs. That led to a bunch of posts on how we might use the structure of measuring relationships (Hon/Grunig).   This is heady stuff for peanut-brains like me.  The high-forehead types who make their living in the academe are used to thinking in these terms, but all of this stuff is pretty new for me. I’m just some guy, trying to puzzle out how to make sense of the concepts of influence in the social age, and apply the both new and hoary theories in the process. If I have to explain this stuff, I better have some ideas.

But there’s a lot more traction in just inventing a method and telling people it’s the standard, never revealing the contents of the magic box.  From Altimeter to Syncapse, to Vitrue to Klout, we learn that more-social companies have higher revenue than less-social (correlation is NOT causation); Facebook fans of a brand buy more stuff than non-fans (but which drives which?); Facebook fans are worth $3.60 (no, $136, no…), and that the “standard for influence” has something to do with Facebook and Twitter, but we’re not sure what because the formulas are secret.

H-E-double hockey sticks! I want to fight them all!

But, jeepers, why not just join them?  I came up with an idea last year to evaluate political material — know at a glance whether an article is left-or-right wing, moderate, or a combination of both.  I cooked up how it would work (programmed like automated sentiment), selected someone to write the code and even chose a name.

But it would have been a stinking load of … crap! I wasn’t basing it on any kind of research, just my own desire to make money, preferably by selling the company quickly to someone with deeper pockets, poor analytical skills and a short attention span.  Why go to all the trouble of vetting it, ensuring it actually does what it intends? That hasn’t stopped the flow of snake oil!

The class I teach at Kent State meets Wednesday nights, and on 9 March, the estimable Chuck Hemann, SVP for Ogilvy, joined us by Skype to talk to the class. He’s SUCH a smart dude (and he’s humble, claiming that I taught HIM stuff…) What my takeaway was: There are no easy answers to the social media measurement questions, and the snake oil is still gushing in the space. It takes some primary research, some actual analytical work, to figure this out. No shortcuts, no one-size-fits-all formula.

Here, I thought I’d missed the boat and should be hawking the Oil of Genius.  It’d be a lot easier than fighting the good fight, for sure. But I’m glad I’m still on the ramparts, exalting the troops to victory.

Even if I do, occasionally, “weary of the chase.”

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Employee Engagement Still Relevant

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

On 24 August, a group of internal communication folks gathered on Twitter for #ICChat, the twice-monthly discussion that a few of us think might be valuable. The topic: Employee Engagement, the Gallup Q12-fueled effort to make employees feel good enough about their organization that they turn into brand champions. (Or peer leaders, or influencers, or advocates, what have you. Pick a term).

This edition was far and away the most participation we’ve had, thanks to interest from several prominent IABC’ers and, no doubt, relentless marketing by Yours Truly (grin).  We’re following in the huge footsteps of Twitter mega-chats like #SoloPR, #PR20Chat, #BlogChat, #B2BChat #PRStudChat #IMCChat and a bunch of others, so 20 chatters and 241 tweets gives me hope.

By the way, #ICCHat and those other # thingies are ‘hashtags‘ – a string of text that makes it so that you can find tweets that contain it when you search on Twitter.  I use a third-party application, www.TweetChat.com, to organize my chatting — it automatically puts the hashtag into the tweet and makes it so you can see the chat stream separately from your other Twitter activity. E-mail me if you need a primer.

If you’d like to work through the transcript, you can find it here. Otherwise, read on for my summary and opinions.

Defining employee engagement was quite the task, as you can read here.  Not much consensus, but many interesting perspectives. I liked @DMarkSchumann‘s line:

“you know, engagement is simple – we all simply want to believe we matter – silly us”

I also loved @JGombita‘s:

“Q1: Employee engagement is when corporate values can talked about without eyeball rolling or sniggers”

@JPChurch said:

Q1: EE is the point where emps are in synch with your org’s goals, know how they affect their own jobs, and can take the ball & run

And the capper of employee-focused employee engagement-ism from @CSledzik:

“Q1: we’ve been using a 1st person description. An EE can say: ‘I fit, I’m clear, I’m supported, I’m valued, I’m inspired.'”

We talked about how to foster engagement — and our answers ran the range from the general, from @HeatherSTL:

“Honestly? Extend trust, hold ppl accountable, reward success :)”

to the specific, courtesy of @BenjaminRossDC:

“The best way to foster engagement, hands-down, is though profit-sharing incentives”

and @JostleMe:

“helping each individual understand they are part of a winning team that is making a difference”

and @JGombita:

“One of the best ways to foster engagement is if you ask employees for feedback, .actually do something with it”

Walking one’s talk — building trust through authenticity and openness — was another frequently offered mode of generating engagement. Responses to the question, “Why is authenticity, transparency, ‘do right’ seemingly so difficult for organizations to embrace” were fascinating. @JPChurch:

“Because leaders wrongly think those things are “soft,” and have no obvious ROI. Au contraire.”

@RobinRox offered the contrary example:

“Depends on how you get to that bottom line. Container Store site “what we stand for” makes me want to shop there more.”

I could go on, but just read the transcript – there are great quotes (one cool by-product of Twitter chats)…

With so much responsibility falling on the shoulders of leadership, we discussed the role of communication styles on the engagement equation. @RobinRox:

if the leader’s style is so contrary to the “feel” of the company and its values, it is harder to gain a loyal following

@CSledzik:

“Culture of comm. equally important. Nothing beats two-way open comm channels, esp when leadership is involved in the convo.”

@JGombita:

“Q4 don’t think it’s so much whether the leader is an extrovert/introvert, it’s whether s/he actually LISTENS & implements”

@DMarkSchumann:

“[…]engagement only matters to employees if leadership demonstrates that people matter”

@JPchurch:

“Must be careful not to change comm efforts too much to match exec style, though – messages must be genuine & lasting.”

@DMarkSchumann

“no longer can a leader delegate engagement to others – it is the job”

It was a terrific conversation.  You could see for yourself.  If you’re not on Twitter, just sign up for a name — you don’t have to do the rest of the stuff we Twitter-people do if you don’t want to.  Just use the account for participating in Twitter meetings like #ICChat.  By the way, we resume our discussion September 7 at 2 p.m. Eastern time — topic is likely “Emerging Internal Web Tools/Trends.” Hope to see you there.

By the way, Jostle’s Brad Palmer wrote a summary here; and D. Mark Schumann did so too.  Many thanks to all of you.

Q1: EE is the point where emps are in synch with your org’s goals, know how they affect their own jobs, and can take the ball & run #icchat
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