Blog

  • Please don’t tell us Christmas is cancelled…

    Déjà vu anyone? So here we all are back in national lockdown. This is going to be a hard pill to swallow but no one can deny that it’s certainly in the national interest.  Case numbers are sky-rocketing and this lockdown is being framed as our ticket to have Christmas with our families. 

    But what does this mean for workplace festivities?  We know in the grand scheme of things that this may seem like a minor point, but for many employees the end-of-year Christmas party is often a much-anticipated event.

    There is no denying that celebrations are going to look very different this year and workplaces are going to have to adapt. There are a few options:

    1. Cancel the Christmas work party and plan to hold it when things have settled down next year
    2. Hold a virtual party
    3. Send a hamper of goodies out to the workforce
    4. Plan a get-together and hope that this four-week lockdown really does only last until 3rd December
    5. A little bit of all the above!

    The issue is that while the lockdown is a moveable feast, loyalty within a company is not. That loyalty is a priority, to be nurtured this year with especial care to give your staff confidence that there is a future.

    So, what are the advantages and disadvantages of the options outlined above?  We think it depends on employee expectation. What we suggest you do is TALK to your workforce.  There is no point in trying to second-guess what people want.  We know, it’s impossible to please everyone, but this is the year when employers need to tailor their Christmas celebrations to meet a need: making your employees feel special. This year, more than ever, it is important.

  • Uncertainty is unsettling

    This week saw the Government announce the new three-tier lockdown system, the latest development to help control the spread of Covid-19. The tiered system sees restrictions based on whether the area that you live in is deemed medium, high or very high risk.  But what does this mean for employers and employees?

    Last month people were advised to work from home, if they could. This is tricky terrain for employees and employers alike.  How do you ascertain if you ‘can’ work from home? Communication is king. We would argue it always has been, but right now it is undeniable.  Workplaces must have policies in place for their employees to protect all parties, but an easy line of communication is also vital.

    In the following weeks and months towns and counties will see themselves coming out and going into lockdown measures.  This level of uncertainty is unsettling for employees, so the onus is most definitely on employers to make their staff feel reassured and in the loop on what is happening and what is expected of them.

    Internal communications, policy writing and employee engagement are all strategies that we can help businesses put in place.  We have bags of experience in supporting clients with effective company communications; from announcing redundancies and closures to successful wins and awards.  Please get in touch if you’d like to find out more.

  • Express yourself!

    In these fluid, changeable, unprecedented times, the need for clear and effective internal communications is more important than ever. Indeed, with so many people now working from home, even the term ‘internal communications’ is taking on a new meaning.

    It’s not just that with a dispersed workforce there is a greater reliance on formal channels of communication. With no water-cooler moments, the office grapevine is less effective and there is a danger that some colleagues will miss out on things they need to know. To keep your teams strong, you need to put extra effort into keeping up the flow of information.

    Everything that you would normally do – internal newsletters, Friday morning scrum sessions, the company intranet, team meetings – needs to be framed to take account of the fact that some people will be in the office and hearing things first hand and others will be at home. And some may still be furloughed. It’s vital that the same message goes out to everyone at the same time, so that no-one feels left out and none are favoured over the rest.

    And that communication needs to be in both directions. Avoid the bunker mentality. It’s very easy in stressful times with so many decisions and policies needing to be developed, to forget that your staff will have valuable insights and input to make. Ask their opinions, make them feel part of your organisation’s response to the Covid-19 crisis.

    Remember that staff will be feeling anxious, concerned for themselves and their colleagues, and the future of the business. Therefore, it is essential to keep control of your internal communication process. Encourage engagement and participation, yes, but make sure that the core messages are clear and unambiguous. The language needs to be simple and direct. Don’t fudge the message in order to try and soften the impact. Whatever your policies to safeguard staff and drive your organisation forward, you need to make sure that everyone knows what they are and what is expected of them.

    This is an opportunity to create strong and lasting bonds within your organisation. Internal communications done well is an expression of a company’s culture, values and personality.

     So go ahead and express yourself.

  • PR campaign? Just send a press release.

    Image of keyboard with press release button

    Except that it’s not as simple as that. In fact, is sending a one-off press release ever a good idea?

    In general, no. You wouldn’t expect a single tweet from a Twitter account with no followers to gain much traction. Well, neither will a PR campaign that consists of a single press release (or a sporadic series of releases) sent to journalists who have never heard of you or your company. Even if you use a wire service the best you can hope for is that your news will be posted on a few obscure news sites.

    Unless, of course, the subject really is breaking news. But then you need to be engaging more directly with the media anyway.

    Journalists and news sites receive thousands of releases every day. In sifting through that digital mountain, they are only likely to pick out stories from sources they already know and trust not to waste their time. Effective press campaigns depend on building relationships with editors, and that can’t be done overnight.

    That said, every PR programme has to start somewhere. A targeted release, followed up promptly and individually, can serve as an introduction to the key publications you want to reach. It’s far better to send your release to one editor with whom you have established a rapport than issuing it indiscriminately. (See our Acorns press release package for an example of how limited distribution can achieve results).

    Having sent your release, make sure you follow it up with another – soon. Just as an active social media presence conveys the impression of a dynamic, engaged organisation, so does a series of frequent news updates.

    Now you have introduced yourself, you need to continue the conversation. And that’s really what a PR campaign is.

  • The power of a single message

    Picture of man washing hands

    Over the years of looking after client PR we have consistently emphasised that any press release or social media post should convey just one single message to its target audience if it is to be effective.

    All too often the impact of a client’s key message can be lost because it is delivered surrounded by add-on information that clouds or dilutes what needs to be communicated.

    Step forward Boris Johnson, currently the national exponent of the single message. Every time he addresses the public about Covid-19, ie frequently, his concluding message is always the same:

    ‘to help reduce the spread of coronavirus, wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water, preferably every two hours.’

    The simple, direct, no frills, singular message, repeated constantly by the public-health team, is being heard and acted upon across the country. Of course, its impact is partly down to who is conveying the message: it is not exactly what we expect to hear from a Prime Minister. But leaving the power of the speaker’s position aside, Boris Johnson has consistently repeated the same words every time, resisting the temptation to elaborate or embroider, driving home the single message without drama in simple language.

    Full marks to his PR adviser.

    And thank you for confirming the power of a single message.