On the heels of the Ragan Communication 2nd Annual Employee Communications, PR and Social Media Summit, I am officially facing what CIO Magazine recently dubbed the “Epiphany Half-Life” – the time that passes between an inspiring event and the implementation of new ideas.
You feel it as the opening speaker of a conference psyches you up with new campaigns and best practices – yes, Microsoft spent millions on a Cirque de Soleil marketing spectacle to launch Kinect for Xbox 360, but if they sell five million units this holiday season, the risk will have paid off as the company’s biggest Xbox product launch – wow!
Microsoft-sized dreams do feel possible, particularly when you’re away from the office and listening to some of the leading minds in marketing and communications.
Every speaker talked about transparency, honesty and consistency as core to effective employee communications. These attributes are now more important than ever before as social media and the 24/7 news cycle are driving new ways of connecting with people and sharing information. Today, no one can hide, so why try?
Sara Tatchio, global integrated communications manager for Ford Motor Company, shared that CEO Alan Mulally asks his executives to invite an employee guest to staff meetings – brilliant! And to think he didn’t even need to invest in new technology to put that idea into action. It’s actually not a coincidence that he was recently recognized with the Fortune Magazine Businessperson of the Year award; Ford used internal communications channels to rally employees together to vote for him.
But, technology can be helpful, and the conference highlighted a handful of new ways to use familiar tools – such as Dell’s use of Saleforce’s CRM Force.com – into employee communications campaigns.
My former employer deployed Microsoft’s My Site to more than 5,000 employees nearly three years ago – no small undertaking – and it stalled. The lack of employee buy-in was not the fault of the technology, but rather the way we used it. Beyond the initial launch, we never created any incentive for employees to return to the site.
To think we could have done something as simple as hyper linking to employee My Site pages from feature articles on the company’s Intranet. Doing so would have directed eyeballs from more familiar Intranet pages to My Site, while also encouraging employees to keep their My Site content up to date. My Site could have helped a company sometimes struggling with employee morale to create a greater sense of connectedness and shared understanding of everyone’s contributions and expertise. Again, brilliant – thank you Deloitte.
With all these fresh (and doable) ideas ripe in my mind, it’s time to avoid the distractions of the holidays and year-end deadlines to share them with my peers and more importantly, our clients.
The Epiphany Half-Life challenges that if inspiration isn’t “put into practice by the end of the first half-life that it will fade into wistful daydream.”*
I’m of the mind that with 21 pages of notes from the event and closing keynote David Pogue’s Britney Spears-inspired jingle, “Oops, I apped it again,” seared in my brain, I’ll have a good chance of extending the first half-life beyond New Years and well into 2011.
~ Kimmie Greene
*Source: CIO Magazine, “How to Keep Your Team Fired Up,” Bob Lewis, Nov. 1, 2010.