Tag Archives: communication

The Comms Measurement Con

Right, that’s it. I’ve had enough. I’m sorry, but my job is not rocket science. There are no huge mysteries to unlock – sure, it’s a struggle trying to engage contractors, or trying to reach remote workers. But really, do we need to wank on so much about measurement as if it’s the Holy Grail that no comms professional has found and only high-costing events can show us?

Melcrum, IABC and the IoIC all fall foul of this – they tout bloody Sinickas around like some form of preacher, but her top tips amount to nothing more than common or garden sense. Any communicator worth their salt knows to run surveys, knows to invite feedback and gather verbatims, knows to give out review sheets after events, to count hits and click-throughs, to hold focus groups. That’s our sodding job, and anyone not doing that or thinking about doing that has no bloody business being in comms.

Perhaps that’s the issue. Going back to my previous rants about unqualified people being put into comms (it’s not unheard for comms to go to a PA as a ‘development opportunity’), perhaps it’s the fact that comms is full of people without this basic comms knowledge.

I just wish that people wouldn’t shell out hundreds of pounds for events and instead maybe run a Google search, talk to a nice fellow comms professional, or use their own sodding common sense.

 

Drive-by ranting

INTERNAL COMMS IS NOT SOMETHING YOU CAN JUST WALK INTO, IT’S A DISCIPLINE WHERE YOU NEED TO KNOW THEORY AND HAVE EXPERIENCE.

Sorry, I just get so pissed off with the number of people who keep telling me that ‘x would be good in Internal Comms’ or ‘maybe my cousin could get a job in Internal Comms’ and when I ask what comms experience they have, they reply ‘oh, none, but they are a great writer’.

Now, this is fine with an entry-level role – after all, everyone has to start somewhere. But when it comes to managing Internal Comms, that’s when I start twitching.

I’m leaving my current job. They aren’t backfilling the post. I’ve had numerous comments on how the Marketing Manager could just do my role, or one of the senior managers of our division. And I keep answering ‘ they aren’t trained in Internal Comms, they won’t be able to do the job well enough’. Marketing, PR and IC are all inter-linked. But they are all quite different. And that’s because they either want to achieve different things or because their audiences have different motivations.

PR is all about awareness – subtle advertising, essentially. They want a name to stick in people’s heads and for people to have a positive association with that name. Marketing is about selling to people who can choose between vendors, so making your mark in a unique way. Internal Comms is about getting people who, though paid, don’t really like working, to be happy in their work on a daily basis.

They use similar skills and vehicles, and yes, writing is a key skill that people need, but unless they have explored the psychology of IC, how language can trip people up and turn people off, then they just won’t be very good at it. Much like if you don’t learn how to write a good press release or do a good telephone pitch in PR – you won’t get very far.

There’s a whole host of training, learning after mistakes, pinching other people’s ideas and general knowledge that goes into this job, that other people don’t have and it’s foolish to suggest that because they also work in Communications, they could do it. And this happens so much more with Internal Comms than any other practice, because IC is so new and therefore not entrenched so people don’t understand it. No one would suggest I become Marketing Manager – I don’t have the skills. So why would you want to give her my role? Are you suggesting that we could all just swap and I could go be Head of Events for a bit? No, because it’s different skills sets and hey, that key word, experience.

And oh my god, if more people in IC aren’t trained properly, I’m going to bust something. It’s a discipline, you need to know what you are talking about before you can do it and influence several thousand staff members!

So not to be all la-di-da about it, but bitch – just because you can read and write, doesn’t mean you can do my job.

Liar, liar, pants on fire

It’s been an interesting week for this Working Girl. We’ve had some savage press coverage about our building (apparently any Council worker should consider themselves lucky to be working in a leaking shed rather than an actual office) and I’ve buggered my neck in my sleep. So I’m dipping back into something I stumbled across a while ago on one of my favourite topics: trust.

Badenock & Clark have found that a third of Gen Y (that’s anyone below the age of 30) don’t trust anything that their employer says. Another quarter say that they only trust some things.

Quite frankly, I’m surprised it’s that high.

Lawyers appear to be the most sceptical, and to my great surprise, a quarter of sales and marketing people (to which group I belong) completely trust what their employer says.

My theory is that sales and marketing people are so used to hyping up what their employers do that they end up believing in the hype. It did surprise me. Having worked in internal comms for five years or so I’ve learned not to trust a bloody word I get told and instead to go and ask the few people I can rely on (some friendly directors, some sharp PAs) what really is going on.

Which is ironic seeing as I spend most of my time trying to get people on message. In my defense, I try to tell people things that I know to be true and attempted to stop my spinning days once I left media relations. Actually, I didn’t spin then either.

Perhaps I’m not very good at communications.

But I’m very aware that what I get told, what I get told to tell staff and what really is going on are all three different things. I’m not saying that the stories of ‘Patricia Johns yesterday retired after 50 years service’ are untrue, but perhaps you may want to hold your horses on celebrating when they say that they will only look at redundancies as a last resort.

It’s a shame. Employers (or at least, my current and my previous employers) are of the opinion that they need to hide things from staff because otherwise morale will dip. What they don’t realise is that it’s hard to commit to someone that you know is lying. It’s hard to see a future when someone is always letting you down. Thinking of employees in terms of romantic partners often puts things in perspective, and in both situations, you are more likely to trust, to put up with bad situations, to go with the flow and try for a long-term thing, if the other person is honest with you.

Seeing red

I had to tackle this story first: how 16,000 employees of Everything Everywhere (the merger company of Orange and T-mobile) were publicly informed whether their jobs were safe, under threat or had been removed. By a red/amber/green light system.

Seriously. At meetings of up to 60 people, grouped by teams etc, people were shown on mass that their jobs had gone, were fine or that they would have to reapply for their existing job. Staff were obviously aware that a large announcement was being made, but I doubt, and according to this report, none of them had any idea they were going to be told the fate of their jobs in such a public and faceless manner.

The fact that the leaders of this company (who naturally don’t recognise Trade Unions) couldn’t even be bothered to verbally tell their employees that they were being made redundant is horrifying, and I truly mean that. It’s terrifying that so-called leaders didn’t have the balls to say ‘Hey, times are tough, and we’ve calculated that right now, we don’t need what you do. Here’s some ways we’re going to try to help you get work and here’s what we are going to pay you’.

Imagine walking into a room with 50 of your colleagues. Imagine sitting down and talking to your neighbour about what this could be about – you think it might be bad news about redundancies across the company, or a new process that will save money, or possibly even a change to terms and conditions. No one has spoken to you before about your job, but you’re no fool, you know cuts are coming.

And you get shown a red light and the presentation tells you that this means you’ve all just been made redundant. You, your neighbour, all 50 of your colleagues in the room with you.

It’s no wonder people cried or walked out. While this is not on a par with being texted that you’ve been made redundant (I bet it crosses their minds), this is still an appalling way of communicating a life change to over 1,200 employees.

Tact, Everything Everywhere. GET SOME.