Leveraging new media in corporate communications – workshop

In India, new media usage is still to catch up. Mainly due to lack of awareness and clarity on benefits vis-a-vis challenges.

Peter Yorke, (a fellow communicator and my former group head at i-flex [www.iflexsolutions.com]) and I will be conducting a workshop on May 12, 2007 in Bangalore to help aspiring communicators understand trends and nuances in this domain.

Supported by St. Joseph’s College of Business Adminstration – where both Peter and I provide guidance in the areas of corporate communications and public relations, we hope to provide insight into this domain from our professional and personal experiences.

This workshop is also a testing ground for other areas we plan to share our views on.

Log on to www.sjcba.ac.in/CorpCommunications.pdf for details.

Internal campaign slogans – why they are best avoidable

The last time I was asked to coin a slogan I politely declined.

Are we really thinking from the employee’s perspective? Does the slogan make them wiser or decide their engagement index? Does the slogan have any relevance to their lives?

With the staggering number of internal program brands we have begun launching, I am now a strong propagator of simple yet lucid ways to call campaigns and promote them internally.

Have made a handful of enemies in the process!

Can I get my first life in order!

My first impression after visiting Second Life (www.secondlife.com) was ‘what on earth’!

How can this be actually taking place? Are we doing enough with our first life to get on with the second?

Hats off to the concept and idea though. The statistics say it all.

Total Residents: 5,719,183
Online Now: 19,936
LindeX Activity Last 24h: $245,172

This is a must visit for all internal communicators. If we could get our employees as engaged online with a social media concept like that, we can retire in peace!

Some pointers on revamping content on the intranet

The intranet content revisions are always a ‘lets quickly put something out there’ exercises.

While there are business requirements to get the ball moving, we often fail to step back and understand what finally drives the intranet. And I firmly believe it is content with a capital C.

Some learning which I have picked up along the way include…

Connect with customer needs: We jump to conclusions on how we percieve what the customer needs much before even asking

Improve navigational flow: The way the customer accesses content is critical to the success of the intranet. Very often we fail to move content closer to the end user resulting in many clicks and misses.

Sell the story: Is the end user knowing what to expect from the page and the business? How can we provide usable information upfront? Are we highlighting the call to action?

To sum up the content enhancements should include:

  • Focus on the user needs
  • Incorporate stronger calls to action
  • Streamline messages to present friendlier language
  • Improve navigational flow to leverage employee representation

Mind-set maneuvers

From an internal communications standpoint, India poses the best possible opportunities from many aspects. Apart from cultural angles, we also need to understand the working styles and mind-sets while preparing communication strategies. The outsourcing phenomenon also brings along several challenges and opportunites. What probably worked in the US or the UK, will need to get tested or modified. Like the way advertising campaigns get tweaked, I would think internal campaigns need more attention – cause we should be sensitive to the usage of terminologies, the use of visual imagery and how certain processes and systems are viewed in these parts.

In India, getting employees to change from a manual option to a high-end system expects a great deal of internal selling. Far more than employees in say the US upgrading from one operational mechanism to another. We usually get into a maze by thinking that what worked elsewhere can just be retro-fitted.

Rigrous and consistent prototyping and testing are some ways to bring about the ‘mind-set’ change. Also by getting all stakeholders on the same page early enough in the planning.

Back to the basics

As a team we were posed with the question – what is the role we play and how we are making a difference as communicatiors. The responses that went around the table sounded transactional. The strengths we bring to the table, the years of experience and the focus areas. What we probably missed were the ‘understanding our target audience’, making sense of information and converting into opportunities for communication. Finally how we ensure others become better communicators. I have mostly seen communicators ‘protecting their turf’ like communications as a portfolio belongs to them! While we put aside insecurities about the job, I believe we get better when we make our ‘stakeholders’ look good and communicate better.

India is more than elephants and snakes!

Despite major strides in the areas of technology, science and even outsourcing, the perception that still lingers in the minds of those that matter is of a vast land with cattle and cars sharing roads, snakecharmers and elephants and what have you!

It still continues to appeal to our outsourcing partners though….we just completed a video which involved the head of the India division dressed as a maharaja ( complete with a kurta and a turban!) standing next to an elephant and anchoring a ‘live’ video feed from Bangalore.

It will be pieced together for a larger video which showcases India to the partners in the US. So much for development and moving forward……the challenges on the ground are obviously real….infrastruture, transport, working options and more….

The elephant was ‘outsourced’, so was the video crew! Heck…

Chuck the iPod, Macs and fancy Toyotas….this image of India is going to stay for a bit longer…