Some of the most powerful and most innovative companies around have seen something akin to open revolts by their 'progressive' workforces. Facebook deals with employees who want to censor political speech. Spotify staffers who want to control the content of Joe Rogan after he just signed a $100 million deal.
In Vancouver, Hootsuite cancelled a big contract with ICE after workers made their views known. Are these 'own goals' on the business side? And what's the PR strategy for dealing with this kind of situation?
This episode of the Mind Meld vlog features a conversation with Paul Sullivan, founder of Breakthrough Communications.
With over 30 years of experience in media, Paul offers expert advice on leadership communication and crisis PR, and how to handle these incidences with diplomacy and tact.
What can companies do to be transparent and accountable -- internally and externally? Remember you’re a team. Read on to learn how and why -- or for more insights, watch the full video.
JN: These incidents keep on coming. You know, it’s not just Hootsuite, it's Facebook, Spotify, Apple, Amazon. Any one of them is, is now being called to count in a way that they haven't before. So what can they do?
PS: Well, I think they think they can wake up and smell the coffee. I think that that's a start.
Let's put this into a bit of a historical context. None of these companies are unionised. So they don't do a very good job or they have sort of constitutional right for some reason or another, not to empower their employees.
I mean, they'll argue that there are lots of compensations. It's a great place to work because we got foosball or because they're going to free lattes or whatever, right.
But there's no formal mechanism for participation at the board level for employees. And that leads to the kind of alienation that we're looking at right now.
I think that whether you argue in favour of unions or not, or against unions, or just laissez faire capitalism, or whatever, you have to understand that people are people. It's human nature. And if they don't have any access to the levers of power, they'll find a way to get something.
And if that means pulling out statues in the square and being unduly ‘woke’ then fine, right, because at least it gives us [employees] some, some entree and leverage. Our lives aren't just meaningless ciphers, you can't just work us to death and then give us a bonus at Christmas time.
There's a foundation of alienation. And so I'm not surprised that this is happening.
You know you can talk the talk until the cows come home at Davos, Switzerland (the annual conference for rich people) until you're blue in the face, but if you don't walk the walk, either in terms of climate, or black lives matter or aboriginal entitlements title...I could go on.
There's a whole bunch of things that people believe need to be fixed, and and hope that they're that their corporate executives are tuned in to. But if they're not, they're going to remind them that that has to happen.
It's not as if the PR industry has failed to notice this. There's a huge, call it growth industry in internal public relations. How to communicate with your own people. There's lots of techniques involved, things you can do.
But it seems to me that the one thing that you can do is remember that your team. And, you know, real teamwork is more than more than token teamwork.
Real devolution of power into the hands of people who are adult enough or responsible enough to, to take that power, and to use it responsibly.
I think that that's probably where I'd start if I were soul searching if I were a company that found myself being publicly chastised by my own people.
Public relations isn’t just about demonstrating your value to your industry and audiences. It’s about what your employees see too.
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