Posts Tagged ‘Twitter’

Getting attention with internal communication

Monday, January 16th, 2012

It’s become a cliche, you know. Overworked employees who can’t keep up with all the information they need to consume to be effective, despite (or because of) e-mail, voicemail, Facebook, Twitter, Yammer, Sharepoint…  But why blame the tools? It’s the strategy that needs work.

I recall 17 years ago when “we want employees to manage their own information” became a watchcry.

The idea was to create a repository of news and information and get people to seek it out.  This change from “push” to “pull” was supposed to take the heat off of communicators and bring about a knowledge revolution. Instead, employees voted with their feet, ignoring most all the news we pushed out, especially the stuff that supposedly was “important” — the company strategy, leadership messages and  human resources materials.  We were repurposing news releases in those days, not really originating stories from the employee perspective. We were passive, and we waited for our internal clients to come up with stuff.

Well, that’s not altogether true. We called them and asked, “Got any news?” What we should have done is treated employees as our clients and looked for reasons to do a piece, not expect our leaders and managers to come up with stuff on their own.

All through the years, our best-read materials at Key, Goodyear, National City and other places were stories, not news. They had people and drama and conflict and tension, or at least a compelling new angle on our business, told through example and demonstration, not mere recitation of fact.

At Goodyear, we had our interns do a ton of writing for our intranet, GO.  During their yearlong assignment, they’d cover plenty of news, such as events, quarterly earnings, significant announcements and industry doings, of course. But they also had to originate stories, particularly in the last couple of months of the assignment.

They wrote country profiles, talking with leaders and others about the business situation. They did stories on different parts of the business and people. And they did a multipart series focusing on one regional business, or on the fastest-growing geographies in the company.

These stories got read because they helped employees make sense of the information instead of merely leaving everything up to them.

We began to attract news from all the major business units, increasing our annual story count into the range of 1,200 – 1,500 stories per year.  Over a two-year period, we tripled our monthly GO traffic (visits and pages viewed) and saw a 10% increase in understanding of our company strategy.

How do you get attention, cut through the clutter? Write (produce) stories that matter to your employees, balancing the need for leadership to transmit information with the need for employees to have relevant content available to them.  Do research among employees and leaders to discover what those stories should be, and do it often.

All you’ve got to lose is your irrelevancy.

Share

What are your predictions?

Sunday, January 1st, 2012

I decided to take a stab at putting together a “communication predictions for 2012” post and asked on Twitter for contributions in hopes of getting it out this coming week. As it happens, Judy Gombita (@jgombita) and Paul Seaman (@paulseaman) have obliged with their thoughts, and Heather Yaxley (@greenbanana) has written a definitive post on PR trends that bears close examination.

I’d  appreciate your thoughts, especially about measurement and internal communications. Where might we go in 2012?

My reactions to Judy and Paul are below – about Heather’s piece, I can say only, READ IT.

Judy’s comment:

Fingers crossed @CommAMMO: #corporatecommunications (aka #PR) is going to embrace LEADing (not OWNing) #SoMe for integrated communications.

Integrated communication is not only inevitable, but highly desirable, especially around Social Media. What I’d hate is to have Marketing inserted between Integrated and Communication.  As Judy’s crossed fingers aver, this isn’t an ownership question, it’s a question of leadership. You know my adage: All marketing is communication, but not all communication is marketing. Thanks Judy!

And Paul’s:

@CommAMMO #corporatecommunications the only safe prediction is that 2012 is unpredictable. Yet I forecast an increase in PR spend over 2011.

Speaking as a small businessperson, I hope Paul’s right! But I also hope that the increase in spend includes a modicum for effective measurement, research and evaluation. We CAN measure the effectiveness of communication activity and do so cost-effectively, but not for free. I fervently hope that the extra PR ducats are for issues management, reputation and employee communication, not just publicity and press agentry. Here’s hoping. Many thanks, Paul.

Note: 2012 marks my third year in the land of entrepreneurship and blogging/tweeting. It’s been fun, and I very much appreciate your kind attention to my fevered scribblings. As per lately, I’m blessed with clients, teaching, grad school and family obligations, but aspire to participate in a few chats and cogitate herewith for your consideration. Mazel Tov for 2012!

-Sean

Share

Verdict on American Airlines’ Bankruptcy Comms – Good So Far

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

Courtesy AA.comDuring my putative lunch today (29 Nov) the erstwhile Roula Amire of Ragan.com asked if I’d write a quick post on the bankruptcy communications coming out of AMR Corp., the parent company of American Airlines.  At first I said no, too busy, but as my home office was still captive to contractors, I quickly reconsidered and wrote something (thank you, Panera wi-fi!).

Bop over to read my piece. I’ll tell you this much — given the requirements of lawyers and the, I don’t know, 12 different constituencies they needed to satisfy, I think they did a good job.  I like the Facebook video from AMR’s CEO, and the customer service Twitter stream pointing people to FAQs.

This is another case of “Dirt-sandwich-and-everybody-has-to-take-a-bite.” There’s not much we can do but smile and chew.

 

 

Share

WSJ: Buzz May Not Matter

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

Many of us in the measurement community strive to get people to connect communication activity to business results — outcomes, not outputs.  The reason for this fanaticism got ink in the Wall Street Journal today with a story about how TV shows that got great social media buzz wound up flopping once people actually saw the shows.

This should be no surprise.  Mainstream hype often produces a big opening weekend, but if the film is crappy, the grosses deflate pretty fast.  It makes sense to be the same in SocMed.  Still, I know there are some SocMed consultants in Hollywood right now trying to convince the studios that all that Twitter and Facebook traffic built on the back of a hot trailer will lead to bigger receipts at the box office.

For the right films, that’s probably got some truth. But for everyone?

That’s why we cannot ascribe attaining squishy communication targets as ROI. They aren’t.  If success is Twitter mentions, Facebook fans and other hype, all that stuff had better lead to business results of some description. Outcomes, baby, not outputs.

By the way, how’d you like Green Lantern? Charlie’s Angels (the reboot?) The Playboy Club (on NBC?) They all got terrific buzz…

Share

Five Themes of Effective Internal Communication

Friday, September 9th, 2011

From 12, clockwise: @llibitz, @csledzik, @dak1966, @jgombita, @gypsynits, @ic_jen. Jeremy Schultz (@jschultz) is at center; no photo available for @GnosisArts.

The monthly Twitter discussion on internal comms, #icchat, made its return from summer vacation on 8 September, and after one question from the moderator (that’d be me), it was off to the races.

Special guest Jeremy Schultz (@jschultz) of Intel did a fine job juggling five or so concurrent discussions (a usual occurrence in Twitter chats) as the lively crowd picked his brain and shared their own tools and techniques.

Five themes emerged from the discussion:

  • Social tools inside organizations are coming on fast
  • Communicators play a critical role in enacting and facilitating them
  • Face to face and 2-way communication in general are still important
  • Leaders should use the social media tools that fit their personality and style
  • Storytelling is still the single most important activity in internal communication

It’s a commentary on the thin internal comms organizations that all five of these things are considered so vital — and it’s interesting what’s left out. I can’t do justice to the speed and depth of the conversation — we’re usually a small but voluble group (and often with different participants each time).

There were lots of very specific tactics –things people are using to great advantage: Wikis (@JGombita pointed out the persistence of the Wiki), @llibitz mentioned the internal social media tool called Handshake, a web 2.0 version of intranet, and sharepoint. @IC_Jen talked about Flowr, a kind of Facebook-meets-Sharepoint tool that permits documents to be uploaded to given topics. And internal blogging, where the blogger and communicator work together on the copy and organization.

@Jschultz talked about giving counsel to execs, helping to match personality and style with the right communication tools, rather than just saying, “you should blog.”  @CSledzik shared the difficulty in getting employees to move from simply expecting to be handed information to reaching out and asking for it (2-way communication does need two parties), even though leadership is committed to making the switch.

@Gypsynits was interested in how culture and values communications made their way into the business-focused, business-objectives world, and @jschultz didn’t disappoint. He points out that at Intel, these beliefs and the company values and vision are well-established and well-known — simply implicit in all communications.

Check out the “Storify” highlights — I still mourn the death of wthashtag for transcripts — Or if you’re a glutton for text, read all 180 or so posts in this ugly PDF of nine pages and more than 4,000 words. Read from the bottom up.

Many thanks to Jeremy, and to @gypsynits (up REALLY late), @jgombita, @llibitz @csledzik @ic_Jen @dak1966 & @gnosisarts. You make it great!

Share

I guess I don’t ‘live social’

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

As much as I like fulminating here, and pinging around Twitter, I don’t think I’m all-in on the social media poker pot. When there’s little billing activity and no classwork from either the one I teach or the one I take, I write posts, do Twitter chats, and otherwise try to be a participant.

I’ve met some terrific people through Twitter, enjoy catching up on Facebook and LinkedIn (though my LI activity is woefully small), but I don’t post my status at all hours, don’t use location apps like Foursquare, have barely scratched the possibilities for Google+ and couldn’t tell you if Quora is better than Posterus.

I feel guilty that friends will send emails, “you ok? you’re so quiet!” — but not guilty enough to be up at 10 p.m. playing the social media butterfly. I likes me quiet time, non-electronic. I love hiking in the woods or along the lakeshore. I love playing my guitar and talking to my Esteemed Spouse. I love our friends, face to face discussion, anything featuring food and wine.

Perhaps, after all, I’m analog in a digital world, a mere social media dilettante.

Share

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!

 

 

 

 

Share

Writing is topic for next #icchat

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

Robert J. Holland

Whither writing for the modern internal communicator? That’s the question special guest Robert J. Holland, president of Holland Communication Solutions, will answer in our next #ICChat, Thursday, 14 July at 10 a.m. Eastern.

Robert’s history reads quite a bit like my own: jobs with big companies, including ATT & Capital One, followed by entrepreneurship — he’s been at the latter a little long than I, however, eleven years versus my two. Over the years he’s amassed dozens of clients from Fortune 500 firms to nonprofits to small businesses. He’s also a university prof — Virginia Commonwealth University, where he teaches in the PR sequence of the School of Mass Communications.

Author, teacher, top-flight communicator – I’m delighted to welcome Robert to our #icchat family. Follow him on Twitter@RobertJHolland and find his blog at http://robertjholland.wordpress.com/.

 

Share

Group Texts for Internal Comms?

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

An interesting tidbit surfaced in the PRSA newspaper, PRTactics, in June. It’s an Amy Jacques piece on GroupMe, a new smartphone app that got noticed at South By Southwest this year.

GroupMe lets people set up their own private communities, using text messaging. Think of the possibilities within companies — you form a task force to work on a project, and instead of relying on email, you form the group (which gets its own telephone number) and voila! Send a text to the group to initiate a conversation on the fly. No clumsy email thread, no open-to-all Twitter discussion, no sending additional traffic through the organization email servers.

On one hand, it’s a continuation of the trend of making employees responsible for their own communication. On the other, it’s removing another control (that could scare the bejabbers out of your compliance department.)

Composing people into self-directed groups within which they manage their own communication democratizes information. Reaching them on their increasingly sophisticated phones instead of waiting for them to return to their computers seems a likely progression.

The story notes that the social media world is “competitive, hyperactive and continually blossoming into  a place with too much going on — too overwhelming, too public and too sterile.” Mobile isn’t playing third-fiddle to TV and computers — it’s sitting in the first chair in the media symphony.

 

Share

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.

Share