We’re running a series of intranet profiles on execs who run businesses outside our bread-and-butter. We’re doing all we can to make them compelling, covering a mix of what’s happening now in their business, their management style, and how they balance their (usually enormous) workload with life beyond work.
The only way to achieve that goal–to build something that people will want to read–is to interview the person face-to-face.
No matter what kind of story I’m doing, I have to speak to a person live. Even if all I need is a short quote, I’d always rather meet up, or at least have a quick phone chat.
I have colleagues who think the exec they work for is less than eloquent, and insist upon positioning that person as a “thought leader” who is “shaping the industry.” They craft platitudes–just the kind you’ll find in your prototype press release–and have that exec sign them off.
Not me. If we need to make someone sound more eloquent, let’s send them to Toastmasters, or hire them a coach.
For the first profile I took part in, I flew up to our headquarters and had a really good conversation with this exec. He spoke with tons of energy, told me stories, and gave me exactly what I was looking for.
I edited the transcript down, got it all cleaned up, and sent it to the exec’s assistant for a final thumbs up.
To my delight, the changes made were minimal–except one new paragraph. This new paragraph replaced what had been a very simple, straightforward answer to my first question.
This new paragraph was impenetrable, and contained this gem of a sentence:
The modem and system integration requirements have raised the bar on organization capability and required a completely new lexicon to navigate internally and externally with the ecosystem and customers.
The what to the what?
Sentences like that don’t come out of anyone’s mouth. And if they do, they require at least three follow up questions, after which you’ll get an answer you can use.
So, whenever you need words that originate from a human being for a story–of any type–make sure you can talk live. Otherwise, plan to block off a lot of time editing.
I’m in San Francisco for the next couple days attending the annual conference of the International Association of Business Communicators. Roughly 1,000 communicators from around the globe are converging to share best practices for communications on both sides of the firewall.
It’s been quite a rush already. I’m speaking on a panel Tuesday afternoon to talk about social computing for internal communication. Besides that, I’m going to cram in as much knowledge as I can.
My fellow communicator Linda Johannesson set the good example of posting her schedule on her blog, so I thought I’d follow suit. At the worst, it’ll serve as a handy reference for myself.
- 1 p.m. – 2:15: Strategic communication planning and management: Fundamentals for success with Les Potter
- 2:30 – 3:45: The art of the high stakes presentation: A crash course on personal impact with Jim Endicott (geez, these are tough to choose, so many good sessions right off the bat!)
- 4 – 5:30: Leadership and innovation in a changing global business landscape with Ernest Gundling (4-5) and/or Tim Tam Tweetup with Linda and others (4:30-5:30)
- 5:20 – 6:30: Opening General Session and Keynote Address with Blair Christie from Cisco
- 7:30 – 10:00: Welcome Reception
- 8 a.m. – 9: Idea Jam on Employee Communication (we use jams pretty frequently internally; nice way to harvest a huge number of ideas or direct feedback and an easy, time-boxed way for leaders to dip their toes in social computing)
- 9:15 – 10:15: General Session with IABC’s 2009 EXCEL Award Winner with Best Buy President, COO, and soon-to-be CEO Brian Dunn
- 11:15 – 12:30 p.m.: Stop the world, I want to communicate, a panel
- 2 – 4:30: Measuring the success of your communication with Angela Sinickas
- 5:30 – 7: Mixer with regional communicators
- 8:15 a.m. – 9:15: Expert panel on Employee Communication: Looks like I’ll be on this panel, led by Steve Crescenzo and with Paul Barton, Chuck Gose, …. Whatever happens, this will be fun.
- 9:30 – 10:30: Sustainable leadership with Robert Swan
- 11:15 – 12:30 p.m.: The best get better: How IBM uses global research
- 2 – 3:15: MY PANEL! Web 2.0 and internal communication: A worldview of best practices, led by Debbie Moore who will grill Karen Horn and yours truly. Sure to be the most riveting discussion of the entire event.
- 3:30 – 4:45: All-Star Sessions. This is a three way coin toss, but I’m leaning towards Steve Crescenzo on Executive communication 2.0: Helping today’s leaders communicate with today’s employees
- 5:30 – 6:45: Networking reception
- 7:45: Dine-around at Foreign Cinema
- 8:30 a.m. – 9:45: All-star Sessions. Another toss up, led by Communicating to collaborate with Kare Anderson
- 10 – 11: Closing session, Finding your passion changes everything with Sir Ken Robinson
- Rest of day: hitch my way back to San Jose, hopefully with enough time to visit the Mother Ship before hopping back to Hillsboro
Needless to say, I’m going to learn a lot this week.
I hope so! I’m asking this question as I head to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) first thing in the morning Thursday.
Overall, I think there’s value in attending and getting our company’s story at events like this. It’s no guarantee that external press is going to take that angle (unless you are Google, Apple, or Microsoft). Plus, it’s exciting to see what Intel customers do with the silicon innovation that we make. It builds employee pride to see the end result of years of hard work playing out in the marketplace.
I’ve never been to CES, but I want to try something different than our news team has done before. I’m going to help produce, star in, and edit a quick video tour of Intel’s booth, highlighting what’s new from the employee’s perspective. The main things that I’ll be watching for are:
- Our new foray into technology for TV
- The new touchscreen classmate PC
- New personal-area-network technology called My Wi-Fi for Centrino 2
- The Small Things Challenge
What do you think? Do big trade shows and press events matter to employees?
As I wrote on my about page, I work in employee communications at Intel. My team is called Circuit News; we write global news stories for the central intranet site at Intel, which is called Circuit. (A quick search reveals that a few folks have improperly re-hosted some old articles—note the dropped-e logo—such as this one and that one.)
Our team sits within the employee communications department, which also includes benefits, rewards, manager, and executive communication; video production; events management; and several business group-specific communications. The department then rolls directly into HR.
I tell people that I’m sort of an internal reporter, but I like to do more than that. I’m a problem solver at heart (I was a software developer for 8 years before this job), and I have a thirst for learning that continually drives me to new opportunities. Since I’m responsible for global content, I get to play a part in tons of events and initiatives inside the company, so that helps keep work fresh for me.
I’m the main social media guru, if such a thing exists, on our team. I’ve been an active internal blogger since our blogs were run on a carpet server in a colleague’s cubicle back in 2003. I’ve also been a prominent user and advocate of our main wiki, Intelpedia, which was also started a carpet-server side project (by Josh Bancroft and a few others).
Why blog now? It’s now been just over a year since I moved from IT database engineering to corporate communications. It’s been a wild ride and I’m finally feeling like I have some traction—and things to share. Plus, there aren’t enough of us out here and I’d like to see more open sharing of what’s happening inside companies.
What to write about? Simply put, I want to write about my job. How we use blogs, to how and what we write, to social tools coming soon, to whatever else crosses my path.
Nice to meet you, too!