A number of years ago I interviewed Bill Shrader for a book my colleague Bob Blonchek and I were writing (“Act Like an Owner”, Wiley 1999). Bill was then the CEO of the high-flying internet service provider PSINet. One of the excellent tools Bill used to keep his team informed on how the company was performing was his weekly email. Bill had certain rules for the communique. He kept it brief … less than a screen shot so you would never have to scroll down to see the full message. He always related inside events to the outside world with the idea that he would keep the staff focused on serving their customers versus being internally focused. It is an effective executive communications tool. More recently, Leo Fox, CEO of Tenacity Solutions suggested further compacting the message so those that read email on their phones won’t have to hit the option to download the remainder of the message. Good thought.
Another great communications tool leaders can use is the Internal Press Release. The press release has been used for decades to inform stakeholders about new products, senior appointments and earnings announcements. A great deal has changed in the world of PR and press releases. Before you go too far, check out “The New Rules of Marketing and PR” by David Meerman Scott for great ideas on external press releases.
But let’s get back to Internal Press Releases idea. It seems like every mid-sized company I visit struggles with how to keep the staff informed. Employees always want to know the latest company information. Everything from product launches to team lunches, from training to time-off policies, and virtually everything in between. Develop an approach to ‘press releasing’ newsworthy items for internal consumption. Segment the releases by some sort of logical breakdown (office of the president, marketing, sales, distribution, HR,etc) and then make sure everything ties back into a central repository like the corporate portal, FAQs or the company blog. This provides newcomers a chance to get a sense of the culture and at the same time find an answer to their questions.
Consider this Mantra
I’ve always lived by the mantra that leaders have to go home at night sick and tired of communicating. On your drive home, if you don’t say to yourself “I can’t talk to another person today” … well, you just haven’t done it enough! Use the Internal Press Release as one tool to help you keep your team informed.