At this point, we’ve all heard of burnout. Some of us have probably experienced it in some form or another – especially as most of us are putting in an extra two hours on average each day while working from home. Recently, a handful of employees from Goldman Sachs came forward to reveal that they were working a shocking 90-hour week. Even if that’s over six days, that’s 15 hours a day!
Disgruntled employees have the power to damage a company’s reputation in a matter of minutes. It doesn’t need to be a huge scandal, but an organisation’s reputation is dictated by everything that is said about them, externally and internally. In the case of Goldman Sachs, employees have been sent “sympathy hampers” but one employee felt that the company “should be doing more to recognise the gruelling demands placed on the lowest-ranking staff”. A hamper may not be enough to rectify these wrongs, but what can be done? The employees at Goldman Sachs seemingly had no other option than to take this internal issue external. In this case, a lot will need to be done to fix it, but issues like this can be prevented with the right analysis and proactive steps.
Internal communication is a key part of enabling employees to perform their job well. Strong internal communication can help foster company culture, build engagement, and help employees to feel both physically and emotionally safe. But before diving into fixing a company’s internal issues, you must understand the current sentiment of your workforce.
The only real way to understand is to talk to the people it directly concerns – the employees. In the case of Goldman Sachs, it’s unlikely that the employees are choosing to work long hours, it’s more likely that this is a cultural expectation. In this case, there were probably tell-tale signs of this, but these cultural expectations can unknowingly pop-up. A lot of change has happened in this past year, employees have formed new habits, new ways of working and new ways of adapting to something that was once so foreign, and naturally, what felt like short term changes have majorly impacted the workplace culture. The challenge now is to conduct an entire culture audit to assess where you are.
On top of evaluating company values, it’s important to look at the vision and mission to understand how much that resonates with the people. Through feedback and focus groups, it’s easier to see what behaviours are being rewarded. Then, diagnose issues such as overdemanding cultural expectations and tackle those bigger issues head on. It’s likely a lot of issues derive directly from employees feeling a disconnect, For Goldman Sachs, employees saying hampers are not enough to rectify the wrongs indicates that they want to be heard. But for people to speak up, you must create an environment of psychological safety, and introduce multiple ways to have those conversations.
Another practice to introduce is a ‘stop, start, continue’ feedback process. This allows employees to discuss what works for them, what doesn’t, and what new additions or methods would be helpful for them. With this, it’s much easier to diagnose issues and find solutions at the same time – two birds, one stone!
Once the issues are understood, it’s time to think about communication. Before deciding what to say, think about who is saying it. Should the announcement come from a team leader or is it more suited to a person in the leadership team? People will take these interactions in different ways and tailoring internal spokespeople for specific types of communication will help a lot.
On the flip side, it’s important to be aware of how easy and comfortable it is for employees to communicate back. For some people, in-person is better or over the phone but for others, they find it much easier to express themselves in writing. It’s really important to give the option of anonymity to employees too – people will speak more honestly and will feel safer. Try having a real-time FAQ and feedback platforms so employees can raise issues in the moment. By sitting on problems, we either forget about them or let them fester into something much bigger than they were at the time.
Internal communication isn’t just about responding to issues or communicating on major company announcements. It’s a way to keep the workforce connected, engaged, and excited – you want those two-way conversations to guarantee every employee is psychologically safe. Here are four top tips for better internal communication on an ongoing basis:
If you need any help with ensuring your internal communications is top notch, have a look at some of the services we offer or get in touch with us at email@example.com.
Countless people have said it, but this year really was anything but predictable. Despite the sudden change, the year wasn’t all doom and gloom. Mental health was discussed more, social justice movements really accelerated, carbon emissions dropped at the height of lockdown, Animal Crossing had its time in the limelight, and most of us learnt how to make bread and other baked goods.
With 2020 almost behind us, we’ve been having some great discussions here at Firefly about what we think the year ahead holds, so here are six of the main trends we’ve come up with that we think will have a huge impact on the world of comms in 2021.
Stronger communication of social and political movements
This year, we have seen social justice efforts dialled up drastically. Hugely important topics such as climate change, animal rights, and wellbeing were brought to the awareness of the masses more so than ever before this year. However, the most powerful of which was undoubtedly the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement this year, where many stood in solidarity to fight against racial oppression and reflected on the prejudices within their own societies. The impactful global movement not only brought these issues to the front of everyone’s minds, but it also prompted action from a number of organisations and effective communication became key.
As we approach 2021, it is likely that topics much like these will continue to surface, causing a shift in both corporate and consumer behaviour. Responding in the wrong way, or not responding at all, can have a negative knock-on effect on the reputation of individuals and/or companies, so being prepared for communicating on issues will be a key consideration as we enter the new year.
Move over media relations
In the coming year, the face of PR will change, even more so than it has already. Companies, and particularly in-house PR teams, are focusing less and less on traditional media coverage. Of course, the media remains an important audience to communicate to, but comms specialists must start to look at the reputation all around them, not just in the media. Finding the right means of communication will become crucial to helping build or improve the reputation of organisations or individuals. With tactics such as SEO, employer branding, and other reputation-building tactics becoming more and more impactful, it’s clear that media relations alone simply won’t cut it anymore. As an industry, we must start to adapt, develop, and innovate in 2021, pushing communication to its full potential.
Tim believes that “The best campaigns nowadays hit different audiences, in different ways, and at different times, and the truth is that media relations on its own doesn’t usually deliver that as effectively as a wider comms campaign.”
Cancel culture continues on
Prior to this year, we knew cancel culture was a thing, but with the power of social media and the increase of social justice movements, both the extent and frequency has increased a fair bit. Most infamously this year was the fall of the once beloved writer, J.K. Rowling who voiced opinions that many deemed as anti-transgender. Despite numerous attempts to repair her reputation by demonstrating support and clarification on her opinions, J.K.’s cancel saga continues.
So far, the comms industry has had some trouble with understanding and getting to grips with cancel culture. And this is only expected to get harder in the coming year. Our words, especially on social media, can make a huge impact. Now that those involved in cancel culture know that it works, it’s likely that this will only increase just how much they partake in the public shaming of brands. Going forward, we must start to take cancel culture seriously.
For anyone who’s still new to cancel culture or wants to learn a bit more, we wrote a blog about it recently. You can read it here.
The battle against misinformation continues
We wrote a blog last year about deepfakes being a big threat to the media, and the efforts of those involved in spreading misinformation have really ramped up since. The pandemic has caused a huge amount of misinformation to be spread as many questioned the virus, the causes and eventually the vaccine. In retaliation, the World Health Organisation coined the phrase “infodemic” to explain this plethora of information and its rapid spread. Social media giants even began to crack down on misinformation by flagging posts that may have inaccuracies or be deceptive – hopefully, this will be just the start of the likes of Facebook and Twitter preventing the spread of fake news.
In the next year, it’s likely we will begin to see some real innovation in this area and a shift in behaviour, but it won’t be easy. Comms will have a tricky year ahead trying to deliver accurate, reliable, and credible information, and if the culture of misinformation continues to grow and become more mainstream, this will cause even more challenges!
Empathy, care, and continued commitment
After being subject to nationwide and local lockdowns, where many of us were unable to see our closest friends and families, we all needed a little boost. Everyone has already begun to pay close attention to their own mental wellbeing and the wellbeing of those around them. Even the government has begun to comment on this too. With so much focus on this, it is almost definitely something that will impact the year ahead. For comms professionals, communicating with care is key and care should be top of the agenda for leaders too.
Christian thinks that “The Covid-19 vaccine will take a long time to change the world stage, so people will be working remotely for some time yet. This means that leaders must continue being inspiring, motivating their staff, and making difficult decisions for some time yet. It’s time to dig deep and communicate clearly, powerfully and responsibly.”
Planning for uncertain times
As we know, this year hasn’t been predictable at all, and actually, it’s uncertain just how much we can know about the next year. Despite the uncertainty, we can plan for the year ahead by ensuring there is fluidity interwoven into our plans. Pre-Covid, it was easy enough for us to plan around big events, or key moments in the calendar for the following year. Due to the vaccine being distributed, we can almost start planning in this way again, but we must ensure we have a back-up plan if these milestone moments in the year are postponed or cancelled.
According to Charlotte, “A full, detailed yearly plan has not been ‘a thing’ for a while, things change far too fast to look that far ahead. There is still uncertainty around the corner, so comms planning must be fluid and we must give ourselves room to flex, to either face new challenges or take advantage of new opportunities.”
There are, of course, countless other trends that are likely to make an impact in the year ahead, but these are the six we really think you, as a comms professional, would benefit from keeping a close eye on. This year has been an interesting one to say the least, but we’ve all learnt a lot, and despite the uncertainty, some great things have happened. From us at Firefly, we hope you have a wonderful festive break, enjoy time with loved ones, and recharge those batteries for a brilliant new year ahead. And of course, hopefully the newfound baking skills many of us picked up in lockdown can come in handy for whipping up some festive treats while playing Michael Bublé on repeat!
The world is finally returning to some sense of normality and we could not be more excited. The high street is open, many are returning to work, and we can even go for a cheeky Nando’s! With so much changing in a short amount of time, keeping up to date with the news may have been a tad tricky, but don’t worry, we’ve put together a round-up of the main news that really caught our eyes this month.
From social media to social justice: many brands have taken and are continuing to take action against Facebook’s inability to block hateful speech and content by banning their advertising. Despite Mark Zuckerberg claiming that the advertising boycotts will “end soon enough,” data revealed that the movement has caused a 42% decrease in advertising spend, causing a huge blow to the Facebook ad market. The Telegraph has the full story.
Similarly, following on from Katie Hopkin’s suspension from Twitter, social media platforms are taking action against hate speech by actively blocking users who are producing harmful content. YouTube joined the wave of those taking action by banning Klu Klux Klan leader, David Duke, and other US far right users for the hateful content they produce along with suspending 25,000 channels for violating hate speech policies. The Guardian dives deeper into this.
Meanwhile, the UK decided to remove Huawei’s role in the UK’s 5G network by 2027 causing quite the stir. Reuters explores this further. Following the decision, Huawei UK board members have stepped down from their positions, while China’s ambassador to the UK has called the UK’s decision “disappointing and wrong” – read more on BBC News.
Many are also returning to the world of hospitality, backed by the ‘eat out to help out’ scheme announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak earlier this month, but some aren’t returning to their usual spots. In a bid to help give smaller pubs a boost, a man has created ‘Neverspoons’, an app to show users independent pubs near their local Wetherspoons. The android app was downloaded nearly 18,000 times in the first week alone. BBC News has the full story.
Want to stay up to date with the latest tech news? Every morning, the Firefly team creates a roundup of the biggest news stories across the technology space. Sign up to Firewire by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
I was scrolling through social media over the weekend, looking at all the wonderful banana breads and creative projects people have taken on during lockdown. Then, I received a push notification from an airline company offering me a discount on baggage for my next flight if I book by the end of the week. Naturally, this slightly unsettled me. I began to wonder: are people actually booking holidays during a global pandemic? Would a discount on baggage really sway consumers to make that purchase in such an uncertain time?
The ways in which we communicate during these troubling times will be remembered. For some, being remembered for the positive communication will be nothing but positively impactful, but for those missing the mark with untimely or inappropriate messaging, this could have a lasting impact. But how do we effectively communicate and why is it so important?
During this time, the way we communicate and what we say can be helpful, even if it is not directly relevant to the situation at hand. Our word choices are equally as important as the message we are trying to convey – they can offer a diversion; they can offer a sense of normality and can even support those who may be struggling. But timing is just as important as the choice of words. Remember to check for any campaign content you may have lined up from before the pandemic and perhaps consider when would be the best time to share this content, if it is still appropriate. Much like the message I received from the airline company about baggage deals, mistimed communication can be the source of frustration if not carefully considered.
In fact, new research from Epsilon–Conversant and CJ Affiliate shows that almost half of all consumers have received poorly-timed or inappropriate marketing messages over the first two weeks of lockdown. Many of us have noticed an influx of marketing emails and social media adverts, but the research revealed that the majority of consumers (62%) actually don’t want brands to stop advertising.
For a lot of us, this means we not only need to adapt the ways we are sharing our messages, but in some cases, adapting to fit the times. All communication, right now more than ever, must carry purpose.
If you cannot offer something that’s relevant or appropriate, perhaps it could be worth focusing efforts elsewhere. Maybe you could offer working from home support relevant to your brand, advice from your senior leadership team, or even just positive messaging to your current customers and employees to help keep up morale. The world may feel like it’s come to a halt, but this will not continue forever and the worst thing you can do is decide to go dark.
Going dark can risk your overall share of voice and if your competitors are continuing communications, this can leave you in a potentially detrimental position. While you may not be able to operate in quite the same way, you can adapt to the current situation as well as continuing to look ahead to recovery. With recovery on the horizon, if you decide to go dark, it will become much harder to scale up when working from nothing.
According to research from Kantar, under lockdown, web browsing has grown 70% while social media has grown over 60%, so now could be a great time to transfer messaging over to your social or web teams if your usual mediums have been affected by the crisis. Ultimately, continuing to communicate is key but it just may need to be tweaked slightly!
Top tips to tackling these troubling times
Generally, it seems that any messaging that shows care and compassion for the situation seems to be doing well. If you’re still stuck or questioning yourself about if your messaging is appropriate, ask yourself the following questions:
A perfect example of this is recent news from PlayStation. Sony recently released two free games to their members this month to encourage people to stay at home, this was received only positively. The research from Epsilon–Conversant and CJ Affiliate showed that many consumers would prefer to receive messages of wellbeing and positivity from brands, but ultimately, they were mainly still looking for discounts and offers. This example hits both needs while also addressing the situation head-on.
Despite the physical space put between us, we should be working even harder to ensure we are communicating more but we must make sure that our communication is tailored, relevant and appropriate. But we shouldn’t be turned away from communicating at all, we will just need to adapt!
The beginning of the new decade welcomed the positive news from the National Grid that, for the first time ever, more of the UK’s electricity came from clean sources than fossil fuels, making 2019 the cleanest year on record. For the full story, check out The Independent. Following this, Microsoft announced that they aim to become ‘carbon negative’ by 2030 while aiming to use entirely renewable energy by 2025. More on this in The Daily Mail.
With the BBC claiming driverless cars have become a staple of CES, Russian firm Yandex presented its reworked autonomous Toyota Prius and allowed a few journalists to give it a test ride. Check out the BBC News review of the technology. Earlier this month, Sony joined the race to develop its own vision sensors for self-driving cars. Head to the Financial Times for the details.
A new contender entered the already tense streaming wars this month. New Netflix rival, Quibi, has raised $1 million in funding and aims to change how we stream, limiting all shows to a maximum of 10 minutes. The Telegraph has the full overview. This month also saw Netflix trialling a mobile-only subscription set at less than half the current price. For the full story, head to the Metro.
It seems 2020 is going to be the year of streaming services with British music fans spending more than £1 billion on streaming services, double the amount that was spent on downloads or physical products. More on this in The Telegraph. Additionally, Spotify released its playlists that are tailored for pets. Songs are chosen to match both the characteristics of the animals and the tastes of their owners. Head to the Independent for the details.
Want more tech news? Each morning, the Firefly team creates a wrap-up of the most important news from across the technology and comms space. Sign up to Firewire by emailing email@example.com.
Deepfakes are back this month, and they’re back with a vengeance. The numbers of deepfake videos have doubled as researchers at cyber security company Deeptrace found almost 15,000 online with huge concerns around how they may be used. Head to BBC News for a full overview. We also saw earlier this month an energy boss conned out of £200,000 using deepfake technology. City AM has the story.
The long-awaited driverless cars are now being tested right here in central London. The Ford Mondeos have been fitted with autonomous technology from UK tech firm Oxbotica. Read the full story on The Guardian.
After caring for his mother for 15 years after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Simon Hooper decided to create an app, RemindMecare to provide carers with a database of information on the patient’s lives by building a personalised profile that can store all relevant knowledge. More on this in The Telegraph.
Facebook has run into a spot of trouble this month. Its cryptocurrency, Libra, has faced several setbacks including eBay, Stripe and Mastercard all pulling support. Daily Mail has the full overview. The social media platform has also reportedly seen its second successive annual decline in brand value following backlash over data use dropping it out of the top 10 ranking of the world’s most popular brands. More on this in City AM.
Gamers rejoice! It was announced this month that Sony’s Playstation 5 will be released for the holiday season in 2020. Head to The Telegraph for the details. Meanwhile, Fortnite’s season 10 event titled “The End” left gamers unable to connect to servers as the entire map was sucked into a black hole only to later reveal a brand-new chapter of the game. Tech Crunch delves a little deeper into this, quite frankly, awesome stunt!
Want more tech news? Each morning, the Firefly team creates a wrap-up of the most important news from across the technology and comms space. Sign up to Firewire by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Receive thought pieces from our leadership team, views on the news, tool of the month and light relief for comms folk