Archive for the ‘Q&A’ Category

Speechwriting, Screenwriting, and Corporate Communications

lightbulb4Communitelligence’s John Gerstner was nice enough to interview me on BlogTalkRadio about the state of corporate communications, speechwriting v. screenwriting, and other topics. It’s part of the lead- up to Communitelligence’s conference, RETHINKING CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS: Delivering More Value in a Tough Economy,” Washington, DC, September 30 – October 1, 2009. I’m chairing a panel on How Corporate Communicators Must Change.

Listen in, and send me your thoughts and comments.

GE’s Immelt – Building Credibility or…?

ge-logo-new-greenIn April, I did a ‘Quick Q&A’ with Bill Lane, who worked as Jack Welch’s speechwriter for 20 years at General Electric. Asked about  the communication problems of current CEO Jeff Immelt, Lane said, “Jeff’s … an optimist by nature, and sometimes he lets that optimism get the better of him. He predicted that the company earnings were ‘in the bag’; but then it missed. He touted GE’S AAA rating, then saw it downgraded. Those kinds of things kill your credibility.”

Is Immelt still at it?

The AP recently reported, “Jeff Immelt told an industry conference Tuesday that GE has already raised all of the $45 billion in debt that it planned for this year and has pre-funded $7 billion of its 2010 target. Immelt said the state of the capital markets seemed to be improving ‘by the day.’…. “We have plenty of capital,” Immelt said.

GE stockholders have to hope his predictions are better this time.

For GM’s CEO – a C+

163_news090407_01zgeneral_motorslogoLet’s face it, GM CEO Fritz Henderson had an impossible task on June 1, turning the shock and gloom about GM’s pending bankruptcy into good news, or at least into a little hope for the future. Still, that’s the kind of thing CEOs get paid the big bucks for. So how did he do?

I’m afraid I have to give his remarks at his New York press conference (and his answers to follow up questions) a C+ at best. He didn’t make things any worse, but he didn’t give listeners much ground for optimism. There were two big problems with his statement.

First, a lot of it was just a litany of phrases that are becoming awfully familiar in this era of businesses trying to convince people they really and truly can turn things around.

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Quick Q&A with ….. Susan Rink, on getting CEO-employee communication right

Susan C. Rink principal of Rink Strategic Communications, which specializes in effective internal communications to drive employee engagement, shares her thoughts on what a CEO needs to do to communicate with employees during this economic down turn.

JP:What are the most common mistakes you see executives making?

SR:There is a mistake you see a lot in traditional, hierarchical companies where executive counsel has devolved into pandering. These executives base their employee messaging on highly-sanitized feedback, rather than unfiltered comments from their workforce. Smart executives want to hear what their employees are really saying even if the comments are unflattering, so they can address real concerns.

JP:Who is the best messenger for delivering bad news to employees?

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It Should Come From the CEO

pink-2A recent piece on features a lot of good advice on how companies should handle salary cuts and layoffs during the economic meltdown, from employee communication expert Jennifer Benz of Benz Communications.

Above all, she says, “The first communication should come from the CEO. It needs to be very personal, very real. Then make sure that managers and supervisors have the tools to have one-on-one conversations with their employees. We call it a cascade of communication—it should go from the CEO to the leaders, then from the leaders to the managers, then the managers to the employees.”