One of the more interesting employee forums is www.browncafe.com a site for employees of UPS - which is completely independent of UPS itself. One thread that's getting a lot of hits is called "What would you do..." and it describes a particularly obnoxious example of washroom racism at one of the depots. A couple of interesting observations from the thread:
It shows there is no need for an HR moderator - even when dealing with such sensitive issues.
Threads can often start mini arguments inside them (there's one here about a gratuitous reference to Arabs) that are as illuminating as the main point.
If you don't set up a company-wide forum for your employees, your employees are perfectly capable of doing it themselves and cutting you out of the conversation!
On Monday this week I
attended the Corporate Social Networking Forum at RIBA in London. The
conference was a showcase of companies dabbling in social media (the agenda can
be found here: http://www.corporatesocialnetworking.net/).
What made this
conference different from any other that I've attended was the sub-conference taking place on twitter throughout the day. It
seemed like half the room weren’t looking at the stage, but were instead glued
to their laptops or iPhones (including me).
It turns out people were posting
throughout the conference on twitter using the #CSNF suffix on their tweets.
They were posting key points they were hearing on the stage for the benefit of those not
at the conference, as well as conference room gripes (mainly lack of power sockets) and related info on the presentations. The conference chair even asked presenters questions from
the tweets he was seeing. You can get an idea of the number of tweets and what they were if you do
a search for #csnf on twitter (http://twitter.com/#search?q=%23csnf).
Ruth, Marc and I are back in our offices after a busy week on the road in Chicago.
While hitting the streets shooting Vox Pops for an upcoming simply-experience video, Ruth and I put on our feminine charms to sway people to appear on camera. Many obliged in spite of lurking mall security and a few nosy store managers employed by one of America's largest retailers (hint: it's not Target).
May it be noted that Ruth and I had some very productive shoots and only slightly gave in to the temptation of Macy's, Abercrombie & Fitch, Bed, Bath and Beyond and the Gap. We also survived a bumpy 60-minute cab ride with a driver juiced up on Red Bull! Luckily, I bargained him down on the bill after he saw how queasy we lovely ladies were.
When I wasn't filming for simply-experience, I was busy interviewing the likes of Tetra Pak Corporate Brand Director, Khaled Ismail, who was just as charismatic on-screen as off. Khaled offered insight into the creation of the highly successful LiVE Tetra Pak employee engagement program. Be sure to look out for the story in the September edition of simply-communicate!
I recently attended a morning seminar in London calledEmployer branding is dead, so what now? hosted by SAS
Design – the design agency, not the design arm of the elite special forces
regiment (nor the airline or software company for that matter). I’ll be posting
an in depth review of the event, which featured very timely and interesting
presentations from Coca-Cola and BT, in the next edition of www.simply-communicate.com, but I
wanted to share something mentioned briefly ahead of the keynotes that
was very interesting to me.
Every company is looking for a way to reduce
costs right now. If you can increase engagement in a positive way at the same
time it’s a bonus. “Flat is the new up/growth” as I’m sure you’ve heard, and
will continue to hear, many say. However one top four professional services
firm has saved thousands of pounds that went with its internal
marketing and probably increased engagement at the same time.
How did they do it? It stopped using stock imagery in internal communication and marketing material and started using photos that its staff had taken and
uploaded to an internal version of photosharing site Flickr they had running instead. It makes sense
doesn’t it? There are plenty of budding photographers in every company, taking
more and more photos of anything and everything with their cameras. Why not
give them a place to upload shots that they’ve taken at work (and
ones that they haven’t too) and use them both internally and externally.
It means that you get a unique photograph
that's probably more relevant to whatever it’s beside than the stock image you would have run instead, and people will get a
kick out of seeing their work published. Engagement and money saved all round.
We are delighted to announce the launch of The Gower Handbook of Internal Communication. The launch will be on the evening of 25th June at 6pm in our Soho offices. The launch will be part of the simplygroup's annual Summer Party in association with our sister company simplyexperience - who know a thing or two about holding a great party. We are also giving away some free copies of the Handbook (which retails at £99) on the night, so make sure you reserve your place as soon as possible. You will also have the opportunity to meet some of the renowned contributors to the book as well as networking with other friends and internal communicators on the simply terrace. Numbers are limited to 100 so email Maddy immediately to secure your place at the summer party of the year.
A great idea from Seth Godin - www.thisisbroken.com a site and video about the inane things people do to wreck a product or an instruction. He demonstrates that while we worry about internal communication theory we often forget about the simple things. Like this Stanley knife that I have just wasted 30 minutes trying to change the blade on. For years these knives opened up and you change the blade risking skin nicks and blood-letting. Now they have changed the design and no matter how hard you try the knife will not open. By trawling the net I eventually found the answer; it actually is an improvement and is probably safer - but nowhere on the knife does it explain how you do it! The problem is that Stanley's designers have ignored the fact that we men have 20 years' of inate experience of putting in blades the hard way. Our brains tell us to hacksaw the damn thing open if the button does not work; it does not occur to us to think laterally. So if you are going to improve things remember to start your communications at the point where your audience are and then lead them to the new way - no matter how cleverer it is. (By the way - you press the yellow button and pull the blade out of the front...)
John Smythe will be joined by Wayne Clarke of Best Companies Partnership. I've not heard Wayne speak before although I know him from his work as a senior communicator and as someone who has actually done the job, I respect his insights.
Here I am sitting in my New York flat jealous at the fab weather my London colleagues have been having, while it rains cats and dogs in the Big, or shall I say, Soaked Apple.
On the positive side, it's the perfect day to stay in and work on the May edition of simply-communicate and catch up on a bit of blogging.
First off, kudos to Ruth for that amazing run she just completed - well done, luv! xxx
And, Marc - I can't wait to get my hands on the new Gower Handbook (and it's not because I have a chapter in the book, ahem...) - congrats on all the hard work you've put in, getting the book ready for publishing. Save a glass of champagne for me on June 25th!
Okay, back to blogging...so what's on my mind these days? Having videotaped numerous conferences where IC professionals whinge about their IT departments, I think I've finally figured out why some IT staff are so surly: they have to work in an office without any windows!!
Looking back at all the companies I've worked for (including my most recent freelance video production gig), every IT Department has either been located in a basement or a dark, window-less room at the end of a hallway. Now if you had to work 8-10 hours without receiving any natural light, wouldn't that make you a bit grumpy?
For a good chuckle and a taste of IT basement life, check out The IT Crowd. Since it's produced in the UK, I'm sure many of you have already; (it's only recently come to the States).
So if you want to stay on the good side of your company's IT Department, I suggest just smiling and being nice to them. Or buying them an ultraviolet lamp.
I am writing this from my bed as I cannot move, we finished in 6 hours and 13 minutes and it was the most amazing experience of my life (after kids and marriage)
We set off at 7 am this morning to Charing Cross and boarded a train to Maze Hill - don't ask I have no idea it even existed and shall never be going back there!
We laughed with fellow lunatics and were delighted to know that people had trained less than us!
On arrival at Greenwich along with 35,000 other runners, we me up with our charity - The children's Trust, had a photo call - and then I went to pieces as it hit me I was about to run 26.2 miles. Calming down was not an option at this point. So we queued for the beautiful porta loos, which was enough to bring me to my senses and then headed for the RED start enclosure, where we stood with 3 rhinoceros', a 12 foot high pink MacMillan nurse, a camel, couple of clowns and a girl dressed as the LA PD attached to a rubber tyre!
Once the start of the race is official, it takes 15 minutes to get to the start line, then you can start running - for your life.
We ran the first 10 miles, had a bit of a walk when we went up hill, ran into a pub at 8 miles to use the toilet (no more porta loos for us) - the cheering from all inside was amazing.
My admiration for the great British public is renewed, they came out in their thousands to cheer us on and it is unbelievable to hear your name (written on your vest so they know) shouted out to encourage you to go on.
At Mile 13 it is nothing more than depressing as on the opposite side of the road are the professionals who are on mile 22, it was for me not only depressing but bloody annoying, but on we went, through the Isle of Dogs - won't be going back there again! - under a tunnel where everyone walks as you can't be seen by the public and emerged to people sipping champagne and cheering us on.
At Mile 15 I lost my sense of humor but not the smile on my face that was permanently fixed from the start of the race and is still there as I type this email.
We kept pace with the Rhino's and 3 British Soldiers , who had full back pack gear strapped to them. Children hand out sweets along the way and with your name still being constantly called out, we were celebrities for those 26 miles.
Mile 18, felt good, into single digits home now, but feeling pretty awful! We swopped some drugs with a fellow runner, she wanted paracetamol and we wanted Ibuprofen!
We agreed we would run the last 5 miles so saved a bit of energy at this point.
Mile 22, I saw my family, that really helped and we all hugged kissed, I cried and went on our way.
The Rhino over took us but we gained speed and passed - hooray! We were now on that depressing bit that I mentioned earlier but its the home stretch, so we looked to see if there was anyone on the other side that was only 13 miles and sure enough there was a camel - well a man dressed as a camel, he should be just finishing now.
Mile 23 - my left knee gave in and Alex kept telling me we were going to do it, but it hurt and no drugs were going to make a difference.
When you see mile 25 you know you are nearly there- obviously - and then its 600 mtrs, 485 mtrs and as you come to the straight of the Mall, the emotion kicks in. We held hands and carried on to the finish line, where I burst into tears not believing that we had just run 26.2 miles and walked a bit, but we never crawled.
We collected our medals, had a photograph taken and then tried to sit down on the pavement, let me tell you, it is not possible to sit down in a normal fashion, one has to bend over and wait for the pain to lighten before bending the knees which for 6 hours have been locked. It then takes some time to rise again and not very elegant I may add.
So we did it, we stuck together, never lost each other and finished together, and I can honestly say I will never run again ever, not even for the bus!
I would like to thank my family, friends and clients for their support, the tips, the emails, the text over the last few days that meant so much. To my children who endured television on a Sunday morning for 3 hours whilst we trained, I know how hard it was for them, not ! and to my husband who still managed to remain in bed through out but kissed my fee last night and I know that got me through it.
To the office for putting up with me running in and sometimes not bothering to shower and for paying for the taxi that followed me every morning I ran to work with my computer and cloths in it (sorry boys but all in the name of charity)
For the IPod that was never fully charged ever!
My mother for constantly telling me I was crazy but I know how proud she is, love you mum.
My heart monitor which told me I burned 3043 calories, now that's impressive.
To my mate Alex, for organising our weekly runs, making me laugh, filling my bum bag with all the relevant things for the big day, for encouraging me. I would never have done it without you.
And finally for Justin, the little boy with so much courage who stole my heart and gave me the inspiration to do something meaningful with my life. - THANK YOU.
So that's it, its over, the running shoes will be hung up for ever, my medal will go on display until people get bored! I have had the most amazing day, I am very proud and I will remember this day for the rest of my life.
Thank you to everyone who sponsored me, and if you were concerned that I might not finish (pictures attached to prove it )and was waiting till I did and wants to sponsor me now, then here is the link!