In the “ask me anything” era of communication, CEOs can often attempt to appear “open and transparent and approachable” yet it can appear the opposite.
The assumption that there is nothing that the CEO can’t answer can appear egotistical and puts the emphasis on the employees to come up with a good question. Often this becomes the exercise rather than getting closer to or having a conversation with the CEO.
Internal comms: just be normal
In internal comms, these three words are your guiding light.
Just. Be. Normal.
Human. Conversational. Social. Honest.
You wouldn’t sit round at a family party and say “go on, ask me anything. I’ll be able to answer it.” Well you might, but you’d be unlikely to be invited back.
So why, just because it works on Reddit….the king platform of ego…..should it work in an organisation.
Sure, people want to ask the CEO things but really are they going to openly ask it for all to see? And if they do, is it likely to be what they want to ask or what they think sounds clever or tricky?
Internal comms: idea
How about, if the CEO asked the question. Asked for help?
Am sure when the CEO is forking out for that much talent, there must be stuff he/she needs help with.
People love to help. Love to show their skills. Love to be included.
Why not flip it on its head once in a while and show the humility that most leaders need. Might work. Might even learn something.
Some of the world’s largest brands, including Coca-Cola and McDonald’s have recently given marketers senior roles in the boardroom. The fast food giant’s UK arm, as well as ING Direct, Match.com and Quorn all have former marketers as their chief executive, while Reckitt Benckiser’s incoming global CEO Rakesh Kapoor has run marketing for the company in various parts of the world. Coca-Cola, meanwhile, has recently promoted former chief marketing officer Beatriz Perez to vice-president.
Do you have customers or members? If you changed your model to have members instead, what would that look like? If people had to subscribe, or be admitted, or apply… and if you had to please the membership, not convert new strangers. The web likes businesses that have members.
How would your business change if you removed the word customer from your strategy or model and started building a strategy around your members? A greater focus on customer service? More importance placed on members understanding you and valuing the products you offer? A focus on building advocacy, renewals and references instead of adding heaps of new people to the list?
I went along to a lecture by Clay Shirky at the ICA this week and as ever, he was interesting, lively and provided plenty of food for thought. I have been meaning to blog mine all week and am eventually getting there but man, 140 characters have a lot to answer for!
Clay spoke about social marketing in the context of a third sector.Whereby traditionally drivers for changing behaviours have fitted into two categories:
Making wonga and realising commercial benefit (private sector)
Making the world better or benefiting a society or community group/project (public sector)
Then along came the social third sector. Many examples of which fit into neither traditional sector.They are just fun.Or whacky. Or interesting. Or disruptive. But mainly they are fun. Of the case studies Clay discussed, no pants day is a good example of the power of group action but also the success of something just silly, funny and seemingly futile.
So I was playing around with the idea of marketing without expectation or without commercial objectives and spotted this article from Hugh McLeod in my reader.He has registered the website futilemarketing.com – a strange choice for most marketers who spend most of their working lives dreading their campaigns will be futile – but as Hugh explains, maybe futility isn’t such a bad thing.….as a starting point at any rate.
But how then do you convince other people, in my line of work namely clients, to take a punt. Be brave. Try something new. Expect little and see where an idea takes you. And in Hugh’s words…do something futile and see where it goes?
That is the power of credibility and where the personal brand comes in (I hate this term btw). If you’ve got a history of being brave, trying something different, untested and turning seemingly futile marketing campaigns into successful projects then the trust will surely follow.
As Clay Shirky discussed last week, it is well known that many of the most successful projects in history started out with the founder having no clue about how revolutionary their idea or product would be…humble beginnings but hugely successful projects.
In my experience, people hire and partner with people that have a history in one or two areas. Have we entered the age where creativity and humility will go hand in hand as the most sought after skills for marketeers? Where people’s track record will be judged by how wide their experience is and how willing they are to take a risk and do something that appeals to the frivolous streak in us all rather than their ability to follow a formula that no longer works under today’s marketing rules? I sincerely hope so…