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Internal communications

8 Tools to Help Companies Connect With Employees

Socrates, Circuit and Spotlight: you may find these sites while searching online, but you won’t be granted access. Unless, that is, you work at General Motors, Intel, or SunTrust Banks; these are intranet sites for those companies’ employees.

Intranets, proprietary social media platforms, mobile apps and rewards programs were on PRSA Connect13’s conference “employee social communications” agenda in New York on Tuesday, where corporate presenters ranging from industry leaders to resurgent companies shared case studies.

The following connection tips and tools aren’t new, but these companies, as well as SAS and IBM, found interesting ways to adapt them for employees.

1. Intranet: Circuit is Intel’s go-to platform, created to help employees follow company news and post related comments. Intel’s corporate initiatives director Melissa McVicker told attendees that employees use their personal pages to enter countdowns to their sabbaticals (which they earn every seven years).

2. Customized social media platforms: SAS maintains The Hub, hosted by SocialCast. Here employees join personal and work groups and give props to peers with a “thanks” feature. They’re also encouraged to submit ideas — and top-rated concepts make their way to R&D. CEO Jim Goodnight posts content, as do many employees. The Hub also serves as a real-time engagement platform: according to SAS internal communications manager Becky Graebe, two employees met, fell for each other and literally got engaged there.

3. Mobile apps: Intel introduced GoMyBenMobile, an app where its engineers and manufacturing employees have easy access to benefits information and company news without needing laptops.

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The New Yahoo Prohibits Telecommuting, Irks Communications Team

Yahoo CEO Marissa MayerLast week Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer unveiled the property’s new look and features. But one aspect of her rebranding that escaped our attention was an absolute refusal to allow employees to work remotely. As an internal memo put it, “We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together.” In other words, come to the office every day or you’re fired.

Some of Mayer’s team members didn’t appreciate this change; a group of “very irked Yahoo employees” leaked the note to The Wall Street Journal on Friday, turning the whole thing into something of a PR headache. As Edelman PR notes in this tweet, lots of people are talking about “working from home” right now–to Yahoo’s detriment.

The reasoning behind the decision makes sense: The company found that many of its telecommuters, in departments from marketing to engineering, weren’t actually getting much work done. Yahoo didn’t even seem to realize that some of them were still getting paid.

We get it–that’s bad news. But we wonder whether “no working from home, ever” is really the best solution.

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A Better Way to Do Internal PR

They say communication is the key to every relationship, including the one between employers and employees. If you’ve got a staff, learn 5 ways to strengthen your internal PR strategy, and just watch as your workers become happier, and also more efficient.

Tip No. 2: Build your toolbox

“When we’re not at work, we’re very active on social platforms and interacting across a variety of devices, but then when we get to work, it’s like we’re stuck in time with one-way emails [or] inability to access the intranet from a mobile device,” explained Christopher Hannegan, EVP of employee engagement for Edelman.

So, before you fire off that memo about the company’s plunging stock price, consider how your internal public digests news — is it via the Web, print publications, text messaging? Solutions exist for each, whether building an intranet, developing a PDF newsletter, or allowing employees to sign up for company news text alerts.

Andrea Hackett

Read more in the latest Mediabistro AvantGuild article, 5 Ways to Improve Your Company’s Internal PR. [subscription required]

The Social Facets of Workplace Communications

“Social media is evolving so rapidly, but the enterprise space has a lot to do to catch up.” observed Kelli Carlson-Jagersma, VP at Wells Fargo Bank. David Grossman, founder and CEO of The Grossman Group, an internal comms consultancy, agreed that social platforms complicate an already tricky environment for workplace communications. Both spoke at Business Development Institute’s Social Media and Internal Communications Summit on Thursday in New York. Below are key takeaways.

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Edelman Shifts Practice Focus to ‘Employee Engagement’

Edelman has used the findings from its own 2012 Trust Barometer to shift its internal relations practice to an employee engagement focus.

The Trust Barometer found that 50 percent believe employees are reliable sources of information about their companies. With that in mind, the employee engagement practice will zero in on ways to connect employees with the company, each other, and the public.

Strategies and services will focus on ways to use social media and intranets for comms purposes, content development, research and measurement via StrategyOne, and more. The practice will be led by Christopher Hannegan, EVP in Chicago, and Nick Howard, a director in London. Both execs are being promoted to practice chairs in the U.S. and EMEA respectively. Hannegan goes into further detail in the video above. Note: We like the lamp.

DKC Internal Memo Demands Better Media Hits… Or Else

An anonymous tipster sent us an internal memo today written by DKC PR president Sean Cassidy for his staffers. In it, he takes issue with the types of media hits the firm is generating for its clients, scolds the staff for not taking advantage of office hours with firm execs, and warns that he will take drastic action if folks don’t shape up.

“Remember, I see what everyone produces.  So…. if performance in these areas does not improve, I will make specific recommendations to the management team regarding changes to the staff,” the memo reads. (We have it in full after the jump.)

But it wasn’t all doom and gloom. Cassidy ends the memo on a high note.

“Have a nice weekend.”

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Papa John’s Fires Employee for Slur, Needs to Do More

A teenage cashier lost her job at Papa John’s over the weekend for using a racial slur to identify a customer who’d come into one of the chain’s Harlem restaurants. The customer, Minhee Cho, comms director at ProPublica, posted a photo of the receipt on Twitter with the message, “Hey @PapaJohns just FYI my name isn’t ‘lady chinky eyes.’”

Papa John’s took immediate action, going to its social media pages to apologize and express concern. But the assistant manager of the franchise restaurant, only identified on Gothamist as Jerome, speaks to what sounds like a larger problem.

“You know, we do stuff like that sometimes. We’ll write ‘the lady with the blue eyes’ or ‘the guy in the green shirt,’” he says, equating an offensive racial remark to a description of someone’s clothing. He adds that the attention being brought to the incident is disrupting business and that the dismissed employee probably doesn’t fully understand why she’s been fired.

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F-H Adds to IR Offering in Asia

Fleishman-Hillard has beefed up its investor relations and research offerings in Asia with a new team that builds on their financial comms and financial service public affairs practices.

Ruby Yim will lead this expanded Global Capital Markets Services group based in Hong Kong and serve as the global co-chair of the team. She was previously managing partner at Taylor Rafferty and served as GM at Thomson Financial Investor Relations in  the Asia-Pacific region. She will have three other experienced practitioners working with her. The group will have four teams to deal with client issues, working with regional F-H teams.

F-H launched a China practice in September.

Best Buy Worker Joins Black Friday Backlash

Now you can add Best Buy to the list of retailers facing backlash from employees who have been told to cut short their turkey time so they can help bargain-hunters shop for discount goodies in the wee hours of Black Friday/Thanksgiving night.

The Minneapolis StarTribune reports that Rick Melaragni, a Best Buy worker in Florida, has started a petition on Change.org seeking to change the Black Friday opening time to 5a.m.

“A full holiday with family is not just for the elite of this nation — all Americans should be able to break bread with loved ones and get a good night’s rest on Thanksgiving!” Melaragni writes. Hard to argue with that. Nearly 8,300 people have already signed the petition.

Anthony Hardwick, a part-time worker for Target, has also launched a petition that has gotten almost 156,000 signatures. He says he’s meant to start work at 11 p.m. on Thanksgiving night but would also like to see the opening time pushed to 5 a.m.

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MSLGroup and PRSA To Host a Conference

MSL Atlanta and the Public Relations Society of America‘s Employee Communications Section are launching Connect ’11, an event focused on engagement with “unwired” employees like those in manufacturing and retail.

“These remote and non-wired employees are frequently the heartbeat and frontline representatives of an organization. So in an age when information moves at the speed of light and customers may find out company information before the company’s own employees, how can internal communications leaders keep these non-wired stakeholders informed and up-to-date?” said Jason Anthoine, SVP and the office’s brand and talent practice head. Good question.

JetBlue’s Jenny Dervin, Mike Mills from Nationwide Insurance, and Renee Kopkowski from Mars Chocolate North America are among the slated speakers. The event takes place November 8. More info here.

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