Repeat after me

“Communications is even more essential in difficult times.”

Yes, communicators know this, and many other people do as well. But let’s look at the group of people who don’t believe this or who don’t understand this.

– People who don’t like communications

– People who are overworked and someone has asked them to participate in a communications project

– People who don’t understand the value communications adds

– People who want to preserve their own world and offer someone else’s up for scrutiny and potential budget cuts

Do we blame these people? If we are honest, then we’d say “sometimes”.  (You know they drive communicators nuts, admit it.)

Do we keep smiling? Yes. Do we keep educating? Yes.

Case in point: An internal business web site is going under a redesign. The project started last year. The first phase – a redesign of the landing and business unit home pages – will go live in a month. The second phase – working with the business units to better organize and update their content – is underway. One-hour meetings are being held with the content owners to ensure the programmers get the information they need.

So what happens?

A business unit representative gets upset because as he states, “why are we spending money and using  on web redesign in this environment…(business) content is generally from 2006-2007 which tells me it is not a vital part of our business and likely does not warrent spending money on it at this time.”

Yes, so, after I picked myself up off the floor and made myself promise not to say anything for 24 hours, I put on a smile and say to myself, well, I mentally say many things. I recognize that this person is being tasked to be a part of the redesign in addition to his other responsibilities and doesn’t understand the value of communications.

It’s clear that many things are wrong with this picture. I mean, if your content hasn’t been updated since 2006-2007, doesn’t that tell you something? A communicator is banging her or his head against the wall, tearing hair out, and thinking about skipping wine and going straight to hard liquor. I mean, if you don’t update the content, people will quit coming to your site. They will find other avenues to gain the information they need.

If you aren’t updating your site, of course it doesn’t have value. Personally, I think when the site redesign is finished and the full communications team now in place (there wasn’t one before) works with the business to leverage the site, he will see how “vital” the web is to the business.  Then again, he may not. I’ll stay optimistic for now.

Any thoughts on how to manage this without creating a conflict? Or, should I just repeat my own mantra:  “Communications is even more essential in difficult times.”

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Susan Cellura is a marketing communications professional with over 20 years of experience. She is a dynamic communications professional and enthusiastic team-builder, with a progressive history of success in designing and implementing communications programs for global organizations. A strategic thinker with the ability to understand the needs of multiple audiences and deliver solutions, Susan is a results-oriented problem-solver with exceptional interpersonal and negotiation abilities. Having worked in a variety of global industries, she has grown business communications in her current position via a strong mixture of strategic resources, including social media.

5 thoughts on “Repeat after me”

  1. Great post, Susan; a pithy way to say this is to say what legendary, long-retired employee communicator Dave Orman used to say: “When the ship is sinking, you don’t throw the radio overboard.”

  2. Gonzo, First, I am honored that you consider this a great post. Second, I love the “pithy” saying. I’d also (and I know I will be ashamed for asking this) like to know more about Dave Orman.

  3. Hi Susan – I just love reading your posts. As you said, one must keep educating those who are reluctant to see the benefit of communications. And, in difficult times communications are even more important. One of the rules of web publishing is keep the content current; otherwise, the audience gets bored and frustrated by the lack of new information. One then begins to ask, what the heck are these people thinking? Don’t they care that their website is useless? Your tenacity and influence will win over the nay-sayers in due time. As Mr. Slusher always says “You don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.”


  4. Orman was employee communication manager at Arco, a California oil company, back in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s. At that time, he oversaw an employee magazine called The Spark, which was consistently one of the most candid and compelling in the business. One of the employee publications that could SHOCK you with its forthright and clear discussion of business issues.

    Shel Holtz worked for Dave in the 70s, and went on to become one of the great idealistic pragmatists (or was that pragmatic idealists) in the business.

    As Shel tells it, Arco was a kind of heaven, because Dave was a communicator who understood how journalistic principles, smartly applied, could create readable and credible employee communication.

    I knew Dave toward the end of his happy career, and though I haven’t heard from him in years, I think of him and his publication often.

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