Monday, November 24, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008
I was doing a job for one of the big banks over the summer and was presented with a set of style/tone guidelines that looked set to make everything sound like a cross between 'Dick and Dora' (that'll be lost on anyone under 40...) and the instructions for an Airfix model kit. The 'rules' worked wonderfully well for conveying procedural information and 75 per cent was just common sense. However, they were too restrictive for presenting guidelines to managers and senior execs on how to manage change and simply didn't give the scope to connect with that audience in a way that would actually get them to read the stuff and then bring it into their own working lives.
Anyway, my internal client backed me over their comms team - and have come back to me with more work subsequently.
I have no problem with working inside a well thought out and articulated employer brand. But visual identity and tone of voice are just tiny pieces of the Employer Brand since the 'EB' (as my consultancy friends call it) is what differentiates the organisation from others. It's far more about identifying, attracting and retaining people who share the organisation's ethos and values. Thus EB covers culture, leadership, environment, performance, development and reward - and communication is a support and enabler to all of these.
Those brand consultancies trying to impose one tone of voice on an internal organisation miss a trick. While it may be essential to have a single solid presence in the minds of consumers, we tend to see our own organisations as a collection of divisions, teams and individuals, all with their own personalities. We're interacting with them daily - not once in a while at the point of purchase. Consequently, the real trick is to give people within organisations the skills and tools to communicate effectively and with personality. Great guidelines are useful and can be supported by IC professionals. But imposed 'one size fits all' rules stifle and breed a million little work-rounds.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Friday, November 07, 2008
Busy old week, this week, and not a lot of time to pause for breath. However, I was most chuffed to get one email yesterday afternoon from CiB's National Chairman, Paul Brasington. It read, in part:
Hope all is well with you. One of my more pleasant duties as CiB chairman concerns the association’s recognition of the highest standards of professional practice. Its fellowships are awarded only to a limited number of members working at the top of the profession and so I am delighted to be able to congratulate you on your election as a CiB fellow.....
Now I have a pop at CiB every now and again - normally for not being as fleet of foot as I would like it to be, but it's the one professional organisation I've been a member of continuously for the past two decades (well, 19 years anyway). It's a very nice feeling to be recognised by my peers.
So, I've had a grin on my face for most of the last 24 hours, and I'm looking forward to collecting my certificate (or whatever marks a fellowship) in London next month.
Now, I must dig out the invoice and pay my subs.....!
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Barack Obama wrote to me last Friday - in fact he's been keeping up a pretty good correspondence for quite a few months now - him, Joe Biden, Michele, David Pouffle and other 'names' from the Obama ticket.
The messages have been well-written - straightforward; not at all complacent; a call to action with a personal touch - despite the fact that I'm just a faceless piece of data on a mailing list.
Yet, throughout this campaign I've felt connected to the candidate despite being an Irish citizen living in the UK, thousands of miles from the action.
Some time ago, I was attempting to fix up an interview with the former VP, Walter Mondale (it never happened!) and went through the Democeratic Party HQ to gain access to 'Fritz'. Obviously my email details were picked up at the time and I started receiving regular campaign updates. I could, of course, have unsubscribed, but it was interesting to see the issues emerge and the candidate's response to them - and indeed the stands he took and issues he generated himself.
Obama used the 21st century communication tools to full advantage. His messages were simple and elegantly packaged. He carried through the power of his oratory by judicious use of video to back the written word and his tones remained measured - indeed presidential - throughout. He offered plenty of opportunity for face-to-face contact; and even incentivised donation-giving and volunteer work with the kind of back stage pass access normally offered only by rock stars.
He seemed to 'get' the changing demographic of the nation far better than McCain - targetting those who usually didn't vote rather than merely attempting to change the minds of those whose partisan voting patterns were simply a lifetime's habit.
I went to bed last night in the hope that Obama would pull prevail, and woke, excited this morning knowing that he had. We may have an ocean between us, but the air of connection on this side of the Atlantic is palpable.
I'm looking forward to seeing how the US reconnects with the world. Since 9/11, Bush has appeared to be only an avenging bounty hunter, sometimes bully, sometimes isolationist, rarely statesmanlike in his foreign affairs dealings. I'm genuinely interested to see the Moslem world's reaction to a black President. I'm excited by the prospect of a new Secretary of State ready to enagage with the world on different terms from the Bush administration. I'm hopeful that the simple message of change will resonate through world economics and that Obama's arrival in the White House will signal the first flowers of economic recovery.
America will be a different place over the next four years and by its massive global impact, the world will be a different place too.
The President is only three years older than me. I'm excited that the time for my generation has arrived.