Friday, October 15, 2010

Will Your Merger Make It? Key Communications Tips

Mergers and acquisitions are proliferating again—and not just in the airline industry. In many markets, companies large and small are getting in the M&A game.

This despite overwhelming evidence that most M&A efforts fail.

The reason? Too much focus on the numbers driving the transaction, and not enough on the people who will make it a reality.

That doesn’t mean your company can’t do M&A right. Just don’t overlook the critical importance of strong, consistent, well-planned communications with everyone involved—employees, customers, your industry and the public.

For some great tips on how to do that, be sure to check out our free webinar, “M&A Communications: Better Strategy. Better Actions. Better Outcomes.”

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Adding a Little Clarity to Shankman’s Animated Message

Peter Shankman talked a lot.

Peter Shankman talked fast.

And in a talk titled “First, SHUT UP,” Peter Shankman didn’t take his own advice.

Ah, but we kid because we care—after all, we still came away with plenty of worthy tips last week when the founder of Help a Reporter Out spoke at PRSA Southeastern Wisconsin’s monthly meeting.

The theme of his hyperactive, hour-plus presentation was “new rules for communication in an era of social media.” In the interest of rule #2 (brevity), we’ll let you read a synopsis somewhere else.

Instead, I’d like to zero in on just one big point Shankman made: the importance of good writing.

What is good writing today, however? The Internet continues to advance more informal, conversational communication—the kind of writing that horrifies traditionalists and even, to some extent, a well-known social media thought leader such as Shankman.

As a pet peeve, he cited the spread of text-friendly shorthand into realms where it’s neither necessary nor appropriate, such as an interview thank you note.

But I’m not here to slam your Us and 2s. As stated above, I’m all for brevity, and shorthand often does the trick.

What I’m more concerned about is clarity.

In the Internet Age, it seems we’re sacrificing being clear for being quick. From email to blog posts to text messages to facebook updates, we’re all writing more often … while making less sense.

Fortunately for you and me, that means there’s an opportunity to stand out with a simple, focused message. So whatever you’re writing, stop to ask yourself if your point is clear. Better yet, ask somebody else to read your writing and assess it based on the same criterion.

And if my point isn’t clear here, feel free to call me on it. At which point, unlike Peter Shankman, I’ll just shut up.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Are Women Leaders the Missing Link for Your Company?

Even as more women head to work, the ones who get to work in a corner office remain rare:

  • While the public has a high (89%) comfort level with woman as leaders, only 18% of top leadership positions are held by women.
  • Woman rank above men in five of the eight character traits highly valued by the public in leaders (honesty, intelligence, creativity, outgoingness, compassion) and equal men in two others (hardworking and ambition), yet account for only 3% of CEOs, 6% of top paying positions and 16% of corporate officers.

These were among the fascinating facts I learned from Marie C. Wilson, president of The White House Project, an organization that advocates for more women in leadership roles. Wilson, author of “Closing the Leadership Gap: Why Women Can and Must Help Run the World,” spoke last week as part of a Mount Mary College Women’s Leadership Institute event.

At a time when companies need the very best in talent and creativity to gain a competitive edge, businesses would be wise to heed Wilson’s message.

So what can your company do? Creating a flexible work environment that appeals to women and rewards them for their unique strengths is a good start.

Women also may respond to different forms of encouragement than men, Wilson said. For example, men typically assume authority more comfortably than women. Your organization may want to do more to encourage women to take initiative, speak at events and promote their own talents.

For more ideas, Forbes has an interesting case study on efforts to recruit and retain more women leaders at Sodexo, a global food services firm.

Why should you consider similar initiatives? Because as a White House Project report points out, both women and men bring value to the table—but their combined effort creates the strongest foundation for innovation and prosperity. Gender diversity at all levels of an organization is a key recruitment and retention challenge that’s essential to your success.