May 13 Event Summary: Latest Trends in Employee Communication

On May 13, 2009, Jonathan Hanwit, Director of Client Services, and Guusje Bendeler, Creative Director, of Parallax http://www.thinkparallax.com presented insight on new captivating trends for online employee communications to 20+ L.A. Chapter members.

While Parallax clients present objectives and strategies, Jon and Guusje (pronounced “Who-sha”) focus on compelling, interactive, explorative visual communications that take online employee communications past the usual intranet and newsletter formats. Jon and Guusje emphasize, “Employees seek an inside, personal perspective from each other on company information, rather than an executive one.”

We saw an online virtual employee tradeshow example for Qualcomm to educate employees about what each division is currently working on, including plans for the future.  The employee tradeshow featured:

  • Virtual department booths and a 2-3 minute video of a department head,
  • Links to internal teams’ website, and graphics “collaged” from photos of Qualcomm’s employees and facilities. 
  • A simple review quiz led to a giftcard incentive.

The site garnered thousands of employee clicks and results were increased employee awareness, product and service knowledge and increased retention/engagement.

The next example was a customizable intranet entitled “The Skinny” where employees may choose what content they prefer through a choice of widgets. Think of a typical intranet page combined with iGoogle.  The objective is to streamline workflow, increase engagement, and make communication in real time. For example, not only can a favorite dictionary widget be linked to the homepage, but a company’s unique terminology dictionary can be available.
 
And finally, Jon and Guusje presented an Online and Printed Employee Annual Report for Qualcomm, a “Thank You” that has increased morale, awareness, and promoted “connection.”

Outstanding annual report highlights that helped connect 15,000 global employees were:

  •  A photo contest featuring 700 photos taken around the world by Qualcomm employees,
  • Text content featuring fun, culture questions such as “How does wireless affect your life?”  

We asked questions, “How labor intensive was it putting the project content together?” Jon and Guusje pointed out that content was generated by employees, for employees, which makes putting the project together easier for us!

Parallax Speakers

As communications professionals who want to spark employee engagement, knowledge or perhaps education on an upcoming merger, we now have new, energetic online employee communications tools to support our company or clients’ efforts (see Parallax Handout.)

“The Skinny” has won a past IABC Silver Quill Award, while the Online and Print Employee Annual Reports have been submitted for 2008 Gold and Silver Quill Awards. Good luck to Jon, Guusje, and their clients!
 

April 23 Event Summary: Inside the Mind of a Reporter

On April 23, 2009, Mark Bernheimer, Principal of MediaWorks Mark Bernheimer photoResource Group  (http://www.mediaworksgroup.com/), and former CNN correspondent, presented insight on news reporting and interviewing to 20+ IABC members.  The late, great Tim Russert would have celebrated this lively, interactive event and Mark’s key point: “Always have a message of distinction prepared.”

We watched a hilarious clip of imposter reporter Stephen Colbert interviewing Georgia Congressman Westmoreland, whose questionable PR team did not prepare the deer-in-the-headlights congressman for Colbert’s questions…or even Colbert’s fake reporter status!  

While IABC members are much smarter in preparing our executives, employees, or clients for real interviews on or off-camera, Mark’s example illustrates the crucial need for his 2-step formula when preparing interviewees:

1. Satisfy interviewee’s own objectives first (get his/her messages across)
2. Help the reporter satisfy his/her objectives

We watched more video clips illustrating tricks by reporters, who are not looking for answers. Capturing sound bytes is the goal.  Unsuspecting, unprepared interviewees provide emotion. Better story, but an even better train wreck from a PR perspective if unprepared.

In addition, interviewees:
• should never answer a question they don’t know the answer to (instead say, “We’ll try to get information for you later.”)
• should not answer a question they don’t understand (reporters often prepare minutes prior to interview asking confusing questions…interviewee should ask for clarification.)
• should direct a question better suited to someone else when necessary
• should not answer questions based on reporter’s speculation about the future (news stories are more dramatic regarding what could have happened, not what did happen.)

Finally, volunteer Jessica Schlotter put Congressman Westmoreland to shame during Mark’s surprise on-camera interview. Jessica did a terrific job answering Mark’s questions.  She delivered messages of distinction regarding IABC’s purpose with the audience in mind. Mark suggested Jessica’s only improvement was to always insert the organization’s name instead of using pronouns like “we” during the interview.  Here’s Mark’s interview of Jessica…

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/13-mT7kw7qU" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

2009 IABC Gold Quill Marketing Communications Judging

In February, IABC-LA member Bill Spaniel hosted a judging session for the Marketing Communications Category of the 2009 IABC Gold Quill Awards.

Volunteers spent the afternoon reviewing entries and they took a moment to comment on what they were looking for in winning entries. See the judges’ thoughts and opinions here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6Yvfz0kGoA