5 Things You Need to Know When Handling a Crisis, from Crisis Guru Andy Gilman

5 Things You Need to Know When Handling a Crisis, from Crisis Guru Andy Gilman

Let’s face it: you can’t avoid a crisis. It will affect every communicator at some point. The key is preparation. It is especially important for internal communicators to be “in the loop” on what is happening with a company during the time of a crisis, because the employee audience is so critical to finding a resolution to any crisis. Last month on EE Voice, Sharon McIntosh and Sharon Phillips talked to Andy Gilman of CommCore about crisis communications and how internal communicator can prepare. To name just a few of his accomplishments, Andy has worked on cases such as the Johnson & Johnson Tylenol scandal, helping prep chairman James Burke for his 60 Minutes interview. Andy also weighed in on the Steve Harvey “don’t talk to me”instance where Harvey sent out an internal e-mail telling his staff not to talk to him while at work. Andy has been the media’s “go-to guy” for crises, with his expertise in both communications and law.In the podcast, he offered five great pieces of advice for internal communicators: Build your trust with employees prior to a crisis. A lot of crises have a long-term effect on the employees and their relationship with the company. As Andy said, “What if the crisis cause employees not to trust management as much? What if the crisis cause the employees to think the wrong decisions are being made? They’ll be thinking ‘Is this a place I want to work?’” Be consistent with what you say internally and externally. According to Andy, “Don’t say one thing publically, then say something else to employees.” With the prevalence of social media,...
3 Things You Didn’t Know About Chatbots – The Next Trend in Internal Communications

3 Things You Didn’t Know About Chatbots – The Next Trend in Internal Communications

Chatbots: It’s not a word you hear often, and you’re probably wondering what they are. They may not be a huge topic in the workplace yet, but it’s good to be prepared for when the conversation starts. Let’s begin by diving into what a chatbot is. A chatbot is a software system that responds to your messages as if you are talking to someone. This software can be used for several things: sending money to other people, clocking in and out at work and setting up meetings with your co-workers. Some companies already have embraced chatbots to interact with their customers. For example, on Sephora’s site, you can upload a selfie and the chatbot will respond by putting the best color of lipstick on your selfie. And Facebook has adopted chatbots in a big way, with more than 100,000 bots currently available to users. Why should internal communicators have chatbots on their radar? Here are three reasons why you should be paying attention. 1)    Most employees have a smartphone, so they are already on a messaging app. Chatbots can be used on your employees’ messaging app – something they already use and are familiar with. This allows for the push notifications to always come through on your phone. “Your employees are spending more time in messaging apps than anything else,” says Chris McGrath, founder of TangoWork, and featured on the EE Voice podcast last month. Plus, employees are more likely to read these messages; research found that 90% of messages sent out by a bot are read in the first three minutes. Which brings us to number two: 2)    It’s a...
Dear United CEO: Listen to your employees

Dear United CEO: Listen to your employees

Dear Oscar: I realize you’ve had a difficult week, and I hate to pile on, but I must. I believe you’re one of the good CEOs out there. You’re also one of our few diverse CEOs, the first in your Mexican-American family to graduate from college. Employees like you, with a jaw-dropping 97% approval rating on Glassdoor. And there are solid reasons why PR Week awarded you “Communicator of the Year” just last month. But, man, what happened this week? Who was giving you communications advice? Everything I read before this crisis said you were a good guy. So I hope you don’t mind a few more bits of advice on your employee communications – particularly that letter you sent to employees: You forgot a cardinal rule of internal communications – anything internal should be written as if it were to be sent externally. I doubt you would have sat in a media interview and called a paying customer, who was literally dragged off your plane, “belligerent.” So don’t do it in your letter to employees. It’s embarrassing. You ignored your values. At some point, your leadership, HR and maybe even some employees helped you craft your Customer Commitment. These are painful processes, often taking months to land on the final language. But during this crisis – and probably long before – your customer commitment gathered dust on a shelf. The third sentence of your commitment states, “Our goal is to make every flight a positive experience for our customers.” I suspect that if you had been regularly communicating this to your employees, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation....

Employee Engagement: At What Price?

I live for employee engagement. I believe in employee empowerment and left my corporate job to devote my life and business to it. Defined, employee engagement is the emotional commitment to the organization and its goals, resulting in discretionary effort – those employees who go above and beyond what’s asked. There’s not many of them. Gallup says only 30% of employees in most organizations are engaged, costing companies billions of dollars. That stat has barely budged in 10 years. Increase employee engagement, and you will drive business results. This concept is at the heart of every internal communications strategy. For most internal communicators, it’s why we jump out of bed in the morning. We believe employee engagement can tap into that need all of us have to enthusiastically be part of something bigger than ourselves. So, when I read the New York Times 11,000-word exposé on Amazon (“Where overachievers go to feel bad about themselves.”), I thought, sadly, these employees, too, are engaged. And suddenly my concept of enthusiastic employees delivering exceptional business results seemed Pollyannaish. Amazon delivers over the top financially, but often at the cost of employees’ personal health and families. According to the article, these employees are taught to confront, sacrifice and push – no matter the price to their health or families. And then I read the detailed response from Amazon employee Nick Ciubotariu on LinkedIn, and I was blown away. First, he took his weekend to write a point-by-point counter response to the Times article; and second, he felt empowered to write this without any approval from PR. His blog post currently has nearly...

Updated your social media policy lately?

When I ask conference attendees who has a social media policy at their company, almost every hand in the room raises. But when I ask how many of those policies have been updated in the last few months, the hands almost uniformly sink. So let’s take a brief quiz. What do these three phases – all from one company’s social media policy – have in common? “Do not use any copyrighted or otherwise protected information or property without the owner’s written consent.” “You may not post photos taken at Company events or on Company premises without advance consent of your supervisor, Human Resources and Communications Department.” “If you discover negative statements, emails or posts about you or the Company, do not respond. First seek help from the Legal or Communications Departments, who will guide any response.” Answer: All three were found illegal by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which enforces the National Labor Relations Act, protecting the rights of employees – union and non-union – to act together to address various work conditions. And much of the guidance they give flies in the face of many social media policies out there today. All of these examples were taken from a report written by NLRB General Counsel Richard F. Griffin Jr. offering some valuable guidance on employee handbooks, including specific examples of social media policy language NLRB deems acceptable and in violation of employee rights. In the three examples above, the company was found to have language either overly broad or that discouraged employees from protesting unfair labor practices. I’m no lawyer; chances are, you aren’t either. However, as...

What if internal communicators thought like marketers?

Years ago I served two years of my career in marketing, and l didn’t like it one bit. I lived in a sea of numbers, managing a small P&L. Nearly every week we presented multi-page PowerPoint slides on how we would increase revenue and what we were doing to mitigate losses. What on earth was a former internal communicator doing here? I didn’t fit; I was Oscar in a room full of Felix’s. Fortunately, I was blessed with a patient and supportive boss, who educated me on the marketing process and tried to get me to understand a balance sheet. He even helped me navigate my career back into communications. The gift of that challenging experience was the value of a marketing mindset in my communications world. Since then, I’ve often asked my fellow communicators how we’d operate differently if we reframed employee communication like this: We are no longer internal communicators. Instead, we are marketing experts asking our employee/consumer base for their support and discretionary effort. What would we change? Research employees’ thoughts, habits and affinities before we communicated. Would a marketing team ever launch a multi-million dollar advertising campaign without talking to consumers first? Of course not. But how often do communicators send out information without conducting internal audits? In this new mindset, we’d pay attention to what employees say they want and what they could care less about. And we wouldn’t send any message without baseline research. Dig (and dig into) data. Recent studies show that more than 60% of internal communicators are still not measuring. That’s at once amazing and bewildering, considering how much there...