Sharing Your News – With Respect
Have you ever read news about your employer in the press before you heard it for yourself?
Having been in this situation many times, it’s a poor show and, for me, a huge Comms no-no.
Reading about your company’s latest product, staff promotions, expansion plans or – worst of all – cutbacks before you’ve been told is downright disrespectful.
Yes, news leaks, I get that – but that’s not the point.
Your employees and, thereafter, your customers should never hear important news about ‘their’ business through the press and media.
And, more to the point, it’s not that hard to get it right.
This week, I’ve been working with a company to communicate some major news. It might not set the heather alight in news terms, but it’s hugely significant for them, their customers, funders and stakeholders.
So, although I was initially approached to promote the story through the press and media, I did have one early question for my client.
“When do you plan to tell your staff and customers?”
Blank expressions followed ☹, hence the theme of this latest blog!
It’s important, if you have good news to share, not just to focus on the headlines and the glory – remember to honour and respect those who were instrumental to your success and to do that first.
The people who come into work each day, putting in the time and effort to make the business what it is. Your staff should hear the news first, whatever it is.
And thereafter, your customers. Those who have deliberately chosen to buy from your company, despite other companies possibly offering a similar product or service. For whatever reason, they’ve gone for you, and continue to invest in you. Please don’t underestimate the value they carry.
So a few pointers for internal and stakeholder communications…
- Be realistic – if you’re currently sitting on top-secret news and already have a high profile, don’t expect the news to stay secret. Unfortunately, if it’s bad news, it might generate even more interest. So take control from the get-go. Identify the groups you need to communicate with, the messaging for each, and then manage and schedule your Comms proactively. Because, once the news is out, the control has gone.
- Speak in their tone of voice – if your workforce or customers are young and dynamic, don’t bamboozle or bore them with corporate speak. Communicate in a way that works for them and, if their language isn’t yours, get someone to help you.
- Respect the WAY they consume their content. Even if the news isn’t particularly exciting, if you only ever use one channel to portray lacklustre corporate speak, you risk sending them to sleep. So mix it up. Consider videos, blogs and real-time notifications to ensure your employees prick up their ears, whether they work from home or on the other side of the world. Likewise, acknowledge when news needs to be delivered face-to-face. There’s still a place for this. The same applies to customers – the same monthly e-newsletter with 12 paragraphs is unlikely to inspire or engage. They might not even make it beyond the first paragraph…..
- Be honest – don’t lie or mislead. Your staff and customers are gold dust. Respect them; it’ll pay dividends.
- Be available – don’t present to your entire team or email every customer and take two weeks’ annual leave. Yes, it sounds funny, but it happens and is not good practice. Be available for follow-up questions; you have a duty of care to respond to concerns. Again, these people are fundamental to your business but also humans with emotions, rent, mortgages and families. They need to know what’s what, whether the news is good or bad.
- Think long-term. Don’t just communicate with your team or customers when the news is particularly good – or seriously bad. Explore what interests them and keep them updated with relevant, engaging, authentic copy. And while you should certainly plan a year-round comms plan for your staff and customers, don’t overload them. Keep it varied, mix it up and they’ll keep listening.
- Thank them for their ongoing loyalty, whether the news is good or bad. Not just your staff but your customers and those who fund and support you. Where would you be without them?
For support with strategic and well-executed internal, client or stakeholder communications, please drop me a line – email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07912 324 264.