Posts Tagged ‘engage’

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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PR Learnings from Mobile Marketing

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

Michael Schwabe, thunder::tech

For the marketing folks, the advent of sophisticated handheld devices like iPhones, Blackberrys and tablet PCs is an irresistible draw to push messages out. Michael Schwabe of thunder::tech, an integrated marketing agency, made that abundantly clear at the May 12 meeting of the Cleveland Chapter of IABC.

Schwabe covered a high-level set of interesting uses for smart phones and always-on Internet geegaws — provided your main goal is to sell stuff, one way or another.  This is no knock on Mike, he did a great job — the title of the talk , after all, was “mobile marketing.” Applications for your iPhone to facilitate ordering.  Websites optimized to look good on a Blackberry screen, QR and AR codes that make it easy to snap information off a flyer or add content to some kind of arrangement that isn’t there beforehand.

Perhaps most fascinating (and a bit disturbing) were the applications that use GPS to tailor sales appeals — you’re at the mall, and American Eagle texts you, saying: “Hey, Sean, check out the sale on jeans we’re having at the AE store?”  Holy Phillip K. Dick!

Amid all of this talk about relevancy, situational marketing, search optimization, SMS, Web display ads, and in-application advertising, I just had to ask about application to public relations (broadly defined.) Mike’s response was a good one, albeit a little limited. He talked about reaching media members where they want to be reached — pitching via text or email, etc.  He’s right, but my follow-up questions are more targeted. Here’s what he said in an interview by email.

Sean: I get the mobile applications when it comes to media relations – but what of reputation management, or issues management?  What about using these tools for building stronger relationships among our stakeholders?

Mike: It’s a very interesting and complicated question and I’m glad we have this chance to discuss it more. Reputation and issues management in a mobile world really translates to PR practitioners being available 24/7/365. Because so many people have their mobile device by their side both day and night, it’s seemingly expected that we are open to communicating at any time. There’s positives and negatives to that.

Positively, a perception of always being available is a great client relationship point. It moves PR practitioners from being vendors to trusted advisers. The other side is that PR professionals need to find a personal and professional balance in their lives (as I believe every professional does). We need to ask ourselves when “accessible” becomes too accessible.

Right now, the effect of mobile on the core concept of media relations is that it speeds it up – accessibility, surveying, RSS reading, etc. Also, the 24/7 nature of the job that mobile technology allows us really plays into the true nature of crisis communications.

However, I can easily see more dynamic impacts in the future – dedicated applications and websites for pushing information and taking inquiries, for example – imagine if we could easily mass email a news release from our phones. The problem isn’t so much that the technology doesn’t make all of these things possible; it’s that no one has blended them together to make an ideal tool set.

S: The entire “integrated marketing communications” universe puts public relations into a box beneath marketing, with all our activity required to offer sales support. How does the mobile explosion affect all of the things that aren’t direct sale support?

M: I would respectfully disagree that “integrated” means PR must support sales. If PR departments allow themselves to be put into that box, then they need stronger leadership. However, aside from that possible tangent, it’s really the same comparison offline as it is online – which I think gets lost much of the time when you start to think about tackling an online campaign. Consider the reputation of the company or the products and services you are promoting. Each company or client has plenty to offer in traditional media relations, mobile just accelerates the access to the information.

To make these efforts effective, consideration must be given to how you are found online. If you want to rely on mobile to drive conversation, you have to have a mobile-ready website that’s easy to navigate with easy to find contact information. Further, the proliferation of social media and it’s accessibility on mobile devices mean you have real-time access to your consumers. Find out what they want and use that informal method of research to drive immediate messaging reactions or possibly multivariate testing opportunities. For some fun reading, I think the list presented here is interesting, and while it may not provide “must-use” tools as the title says, it does a good job illustrating how PR pros can use mobile technology and apps to get things done quicker and on-the-fly.

S: What sort of interest in internal communications applications have you seen? (and if not, why not? )

M: The best examples have been the mobile-enabling of company calendars and sales and support materials. Where there’s been a shortcoming is in mobile-enabling branding and media documents.

As your employees travel or are on the road for a day, the flow of information is still going – the media cycle does not stop – something your readers are no doubt aware of. With mobile networks getting faster (3G and 4G technologies), there’s no reason to limit anything you would get on a desktop plugged into your company’s network to just that desktop. Make it mobile, but do it intelligently. Make sure files are easy to download and content is easily findable. The best examples I’ve seen are executed on a tablet like the iPad where companies will develop a tablet- ready website and password protect it to give only internal groups access to as much of the same information that their intranet or local server does. Another way to Web-enable and protect a lot of the needed information is through cloud computing, which is a subject in and of itself.

There is hesitance to Web and mobile enabling much of this information and that hesitance usually comes from IT departments – we love them because they keep us running, but we turn and stomp out of their offices when they throw around their weight with arguments like, “It won’t be secure so we can’t put it online or give you access to it outside of the office.”

While that is a valid point, it’s also frustrating. All we want to do is serve our customers or not have to worry about coming into the office to get that file we forgot, but the security risk is sometimes too great. What if you could access all of your company’s financial and trade-secret information on your phone and then you lost your phone or it was stolen? There are numerous reports of it happening with laptops and mobile devices can be an even easier target. While I can’t disagree, I think there has to be a happy medium to give PR pros on-the-go access and still keeping the information secure.

S: Thanks Mike – I appreciate you taking the time!

What I surmise is that if we see PR only in the media relations or sales support view, we’re going to lose, not just our credibility, but also our jobs. We’ve seen lately more evidence that building relationships across our constituencies is more important to our organizations than simply increasing the volume of opportunities to see our messages.  Regardless of relevancy, message fatigue and competition are going to put a lot of stress on the traditional marketing environment.

I can see how exploiting the two-way (or multi-way) capabilities of mobile could lead to discussion between our clients and us — as well as between end-users and organizations. All of that gets not only to sales opportunities, but also to brand-wide communication. The ability to put such a powerful tool in employee hands alone means much for the cause of collaboration, at lower cost and more efficiently overall. Bringing customers, prospects and employees together by the palms of their hands is a very intriguing prospect.

This week on #icchat, we’ll tackle video in internal communications — still relevant or old hat? Join us Thursday, May 19 at 10 a.m. North American Eastern Time on Twitter. Just search for #icchat (though using TweetDeck or TweetChat makes Twitter chats much easier to handle…)

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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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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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Measuring Influence ‘Might’ Use Relationship Metrics

Monday, February 28th, 2011

 

Creative Commons, by Brian Hillegas

I’ve been thinking again. Last time, I tossed out the idea that measuring influence might be gleaned from Grunig and Hon’s work on measuring relationships.  Usually, you need to get people to fill out a questionnaire to determine the quality of the relationship, but maybe looking at the public evidence is enough.  Here are three of the six elements, with comment following about the potential for adapting to qualitative influence measurement:

Control Mutuality — The degree to which parties agree on who has the rightful power to influence one another. Although some imbalance is natural, stable relationships require that organizations and publics each have some control over the other.

Think about that in context of online influence – being “Facebook friends” might imply a mutual influence, but being friends with an organization if one’s not a customer or other stakeholder wouldn’t seem to greet the same implication.

Still, the idea that an organization would change its behavior as a consequence of interaction with its stakeholders is the essence of Grunig’s Excellence Theory (two-way, symmetrical communication.) Retweeting on Twitter, and a content analysis of the @reply sequence (actual conversations) might lead to an index by topic – it could demonstrate the extent of control mutuality as a surrogate for mutual influence. The question is whether there’s enough in the stream to properly analyze.

Trust — One party’s level of confidence in and willingness to open oneself to the other party. There are three dimensions to trust: integrity: the belief that an organization is fair and just … dependability: the belief that an organization will do what it says it will do … and, competence: the belief that an organization has the ability to do what it says it will do.

This, too, could be accomplished by content analysis, substituting individual for organization. Establishing the extent of trust could also indicate the opportunity for influential behavior, which could be apparent from the stream. We’d need to define the language trusted people use, but that doesn’t seem much different from a normal content analysis.

Satisfaction — The extent to which each party feels favorably toward the other because positive expectations about the relationship are reinforced. A satisfying relationship is one in which the benefits outweigh the costs.

This one’s tough – the nature of the relationship plays in to the analysis of satisfaction. Celebrities may make general comment about loving their fans, but is that a sincere platform for mutual satisfaction? Also, if the expectations are very low (as in celebrity culture, where the connection is, um, tenuous in reality but provides a simulation of a close relationship), does that negate the influence string?  My putative 14 year-old son may get his hair in a Beiber, demand I buy Beiber music and Beiber-esq purple garments, but is that influence or a phase? Or merely effective marketing?

Next post: the remaining three elements.

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Could Measures for Relationships Work for Influence?

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

What IS the formula for calculating influence?

This isn’t a stab at Klout. After reading a number of recent blog posts on influence, and participating in several of the associated discussions, I’m just weary of the chase.

My gut tells me that measuring influence is situational and specific.  You simply cannot look at tweet streams, numbers of followers, frequency of @ replies or retweets, number of Facebook friends, etc., and draw conclusions about someone’s influence, and there’s research that supports that idea.

Trey Pennington, Justin Goldsborough, Shonali Burke and Mark W. Schaefer are in the fray (and I’ve commented in a couple of cases), and I wrote my own post on the topic.  It’s been an interesting conversation split between the “Klout is useless” – “Klout is making a good attempt” and my fringe element rantings that we need better research to figure out how to measure influence.

The deal is that there are few independently researched efforts to investigate the claims of well-intentioned entrepreneurs.  There’s inevitably a black box that contains the algorithms and secret formulas, and no one wants to subject their potential cash cow to measurement that might render it an Edsel.

James Grunig and Linda Hon wrote a seminal paper about measuring relationships that might hold a key to figuring out how to measure influence.  To determine strength of relationships, they write, focus on six components: Control Mutuality, Trust, Satisfaction, Commitment, Exchange Relationship and Communal Relationship.  Coming up next week, a look at each element and how they may or may not apply to measuring influence.

BTW, I found out recently that my Technorati Authority score is 406. My Klout score is 46.  I have no idea what that means.  But I want to better understand influence, so I’m going to run this down for a while.

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Does ‘spam’ work?

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

I know I’m a bit addled lately with multiple priorities and projects, but I just wondered why I got 18 junk comments on me blog, here…? Do BS things like that actually work? Are there people who buy based on unsolicited emails, junk Tweets, nonsense comments on a blog?

For that matter, can anyone explain why the same batch of Snopes.com de-bunked email rumors keep staying alive?  For heaven’s sake, no one is releasing cell phone numbers to telemarketers, there’s no email that can wipe your hard drive (unless there’s a bad attachment and you…open it.) Let’s not even discuss the, ahem, male enhancement claims…

Of course, there are people who think Keith Olbermann, or Sean Hannity, or Rachel Maddow or Bill O’Reilly or Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck or whomever are the paragons of objective journalism, but that’s a topic for another day.

Maybe they’re the ones clicking through to buy the male enhancement do not call database wipe your hard drive virus email text.

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