When you get to a certain size of company, controlling communications can be tough. Even if you’ve got 20 people, they’re probably broken up in different departments and focusing on their own job at hand. But, they probably want to know what’s going on in the company and what other departments are doing. And you shouldn’t assume that everyone talks to each other. Keeping the message of what’s going on in the company should be under your control so you know exactly how it’s translated.
At my e-mail marketing company, VerticalResponse, we’ve gone through a growth spurt in the past few years and as a result we’ve experienced a number of communications roadblocks. Years ago, we had the issue where some managers communicated to their teams while others didn’t, so we had part of the company in the know and others who weren’t. This caused “water cooler” chat (which will happen in any case) that was, frankly, untrue.
So we started to think about all of the ways we could have a hand in what was being communicated and how often we should be doing it. It’s different for every company, but what we’ve found is that over communicating can be a good thing.
Here are some things we do:
All-hands meetings – All of the departments talk about what they’ve accomplished in the previous month/quarter and what they’re going to shoot for in the next. We shoot for all-hands meetings at least three times per year. We can’t always afford to get everyone together, so sometimes we have a webinar. What we’ve found is that people are more apt to ask questions when it’s a webinar versus an in-person discussion.
Company e-mail newsletter – Every month each department gives an update on the goals for the previous month and the accomplishments or non-accomplishments and why.
Quarterly happy hours/lunch gatherings – VerticalResponse gets together in a local restaurant and all departments get to know one another and chat, or gets together for a lunch.
Suggestion box – Our company has an online anonymous suggestion box as well as locked boxes in the common areas that foster communications from those who might be a bit shy to otherwise offer.
I write a blog about how to market a small business. In the past few years, because of a lot of word of mouth and awards for the blog, we’ve started to get a lot of traffic and as a result a lot of comments from those who read it. I moderate all of the comments before they go up. Some people don’t think that I should do that because it’s not so “transparent,” but I moderate because there are a lot of people who post comments just to get a backlink to their sites so they can get better search engine results, which is not what our blog is all about. And then again some people are just nasty.
As long as the comment is constructive, whether positive or negative, I post it. But what about the people who feel they have the right to post mean comments? Who has the time to be posting these? To top it all off, when people post these comments to our blog, chances are the e-mail address they give doesn’t work, so they hide behind a fake address.
Here is a great example of a mean comment:
From: Business Loans
How is it that just anybody can write a article and get as popular as this? Its not like youve said anything incredibly impressive –more like youve painted a pretty picture over an issue that you know nothing about! I dont want to sound mean, here.
Just so you know, I did happen to know about this particular post. And usually people who post mean comments don’t really have a grasp on proper grammar, either.
Here’s what you can do:
- When you start your blog, don’t “moderate” the comments; let them come in and see what type of comments you get.
- Answer questions people have in the comments, whether positive or negative.
- If you start getting “splog” comments like “Great article!” from “Easy Mortgage” or “Love this post, give us more” from “Easy Insurance,” don’t publish them. Chances are that these are people trying to get links back to a specific site from yours to gain search engine traffic. Here’s an example of a splog comment on our e-mail marketing blog:
From: Carpet Cleaning Mesa:
Sure thing. The gift of carpet cleaning is always cherished by women and sometimes men. Men seem to not care so much about clean carpet.
- If you start getting plain nasty or splog comments, it’s time to turn on moderation. This means you can screen all of the comments and publish the ones that are most relevant to your business.
- And if there is a mean comment, go ahead and try to e-mail them back. I answer every mean comment that is submitted to our marketing blog so if it bounces back, I know it’s just someone who wants to be negative or gain for their own purposes.
Maybe it’s the girl in me to take these comments personally, but I get pretty offended by these people who take the time to write blocks of attacking comments. And when I’ve posted comments to other sites myself, I’m sure to give my own credentials. What do you do when this happens?
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