Saturday, April 14, 2007

Organizational Messages: How to get the story out

black water
Originally uploaded by sancholamancha.
An old copy of a public affairs directive of an organization I know well said that "bad news does not get better with age."

While that line was, I believe, subsequently removed in later additions, the advice is still more than sound. Getting information out, the good and the bad, and being as transparent as possible, is the best course of action possible. No bones about it.

Steve Rubel at Micro Persuasion notes that the "do no evil" people have created a couple of suggestions for managing information and getting the word out:
Google notes that breaking news fuels searches and a tremendous surge in content - from both news and blogs. This drives interested parties to act quickly to get their messages out via Google Adwords.

Google recommends that companies:

* Ensure the official information is available by immediately routing searches to the press release and official statements the moment it is available online
* Use content targeted Adwords to make sure their position gets heard
* Leverage sight, sound and motion for impact - as JetBlue did.
I think this is good counsel not just in times of crisis, but in times of change. Change, nothing more than an event or situation, is experienced by people as transition; transition is the process we use to move through the stages of transition (much life the stages of grief). A huge help to people going through transition is information, quick, even if it incomplete.

My recent tug-of-war with organizational transparency has garnered a few interesting comments. Yesterday, I found an email from a reporter from the mainstream media who appears to be a somewhat regular reader (I was shocked):
I suppose it's the {{agency name redacted by the Muse}}'s size and the fact that it can communicate with its members almost exclusively through an intranet that allows it to totally control nearly every piece of news that occurs within. I've covered the other military services, and it is, by far, the toughest nut to crack. I will miss your missives about the service -- as you well know, there are not very many bloggers or discussion board posters that say much of substance about the service. I'm bummed, as well, that I missed your initial post regarding the what I think addresses {{snipped by the Tidewater Muse so as not to stir the pot further}} ...

Keep up the writing, it's entertaining and interesting!
Another reader commented on a post; in part, he wrote:
I think we are seeing an institutional response to control all channels of communication. This certainly does not match the example set by the Commandant. I can see the need for an occasional request, and even a directive, to remove SBU info/speculations, but it should be a direct request with accountability rather than the process that has been used in this case.
Nothing beats transparency.

Now, some of you may say, "Well, you say that, but, come on, you really don't believe it... especially when it comes to your own span of control."

Dear reader, au contraire. Surf around a bit, and you'll find all sorts of stuff I'm open about, professionally and personally. I have tools for communicating with subordinates and colleagues. I share information I think others would benefit from. I'm even chronicling my job search... and prospective employers read the blog. Now that, my friends, is scary.

But, it's worth it. If we're going to be in an open society, transparency must be the norm. I'm merely attempting to practice what I preach.


  1. I know that this is off point but...I love the photo (CGC ALEX HALEY - WMEC-39). I spent a lot of time on watch in view of that foc'sle.

    Reminds me of this trip we had in the Bering....

  2. Someone needs to break te news on the second spacecraft to be launched to orbit from the Wallops Island Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport next Saturday 21 April 4 AM EDT.