When ‘i before e’ has no exception

When planning an important company announcement, it can be easy to get caught up in the excitement – or concern, depending on the news – of how to deliver the message to key stakeholders, such as customers, media and the general public, while forgetting that your employees, managers and supervisors are also key stakeholders in the organization. And, if these audiences are not communicated to beforehand, it could possibly complicate and deter the intended message after it’s delivered to the public. An easy way to start on the right track when planning an important announcement is to think “i before e” (internal audience before external audience) and heed no exceptions.
Well, OK, sometimes there have to be exceptions, such as when a publicly owned company is held to rules of “selective disclosure,” but even in that case, there are ways to keep communication to internal audiences as a top priority.
Michael Hyatt – former CEO of Nashville-based Thomas Nelson Publishers and currentNew York Times best-selling author, top-rated blogger and social media expert – onceshared on his blog a communication action plan that he created when Thomas Nelson was going to announce the move to a private company. I love the very specific and tightly aligned timing of who was told when, especially as the disclosure rules prohibited them from telling anyone before the release was sent to the media. The lineup of meetings with the company’s internal audiences, starting first thing in the morning after the release was distributed, appropriately ignited a domino effect of quickly spreading the news company-wide before the media would be calling in for a response. Of course, the very detailed planning of the specific messages, talking points and FAQs prior to the announcement allowed for the entire company to be on the same page when the calls started coming in and conversations started happening in the public. It’s a great example to follow.

Successful privately owned companies understand that keeping internal audiences “in the know” on important company news is valuable to both the company and its employees. Not only does this encourage consistent messaging for the brand, but employees feel their value as a vested person in the organization, fostering a loyalty and pride toward the company.