The anonymous blogger Cassandra has a new blog entry at MyRagan.com in which she hatches a whereby employee communication people charge a few dollars for every all-employee e-mail they're asked to send out, and they "earn enough money to deliver a gift-wrapped video iPod to each employee and hire the cast of 60 Minutes to do daily news broadcasts for you. You could even throw in a full-color, employee annual report written by John Updike and photographed by Annie Liebovitz."
Her satire makes me think about what I'd do with an unlimited budget for communicating with employees. The possibilities are dizzying, but I'd start by spending at least one week per month my first year, one week per quarter every year after that buried in an important part of the organization. (Some of which, I'd hope, would be in far flung locales.)
I'd come away scads of great print and online and video stories, important and deep contacts, and a real understanding of how the organization works, and how its various people think.
The more I think of it, the less that seems like a pie-in-the-sky idea, the more it seems like the bare minimum orientation process for an employee communicator.
What would you do with a million-dollar budget?
I’d do the in-depth surveying I really want and need to do (but never can get the funding for) — and it would include focus groups. I’d do more print, because all of our print got slashed, and our people NEED it because they’re not hooked up to the internet all day. I’d do a funded recognition program, and I’d do a funded corporate social responsibility program. I’d do a great face-to-face series that included bringing in outside speakers, and I’d hire really great facilities for the series. I’d hire a bigger staff so I could have our department go out and truly support the communication needs rather than slap-dashing it as much as we do.
Oh, wait – there’s more. I’d hire excellent consultants for my surveys and for ongoing support, and I’d hire really great vendors to help me manage a CSR program. I’d do a full-color employee annual report every year. I’d put TVs in every available gathering area to post announcements – and also to have a weekly news show.
David Murray says
That’s exciting to think about, Amy. I’m not sure all communicators share your visions of Empire. I asked readers of Corporate Writer & Editor Magazine once what they’d do with a bigger budget. Many were stumped and others said they couldn’t justify much more than what they get.
That astonished and discouraged me. The potential for communication is endless–as is the potential good it can do in an organization. No?
I think it’s endless. We don’t always watch the same TV shows or listen to the same radio stations or go to the same websites or newspapers. Why shouldn’t we provide the right mix of media and change things every so often?
David Murray says
Yes, we should! And yes, the opportunities ARE endless.
But so many practitioners have absorbed the nonsense about ROI of communication (in our business, the only ROI we ever demonstrably achieve is “reduction of investment”) that a big budget makes them blush.
Rather than risk trying to make a big difference with a big communication program, they’d rather cling to their core competency: martyrishly making do with a little.
I had a boss once who positioned himself as the chainsaw Al of the corporate comms department. Guess what? No one had any respect for him — or corporate comms. The more money you use, the more value you have. Nobody in Corporate America respets a pauper.