“It’s better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.” (Abraham Lincoln)
“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” (Aristotle)
These quotes by sage, intellectual gentlemen are incredibly profound and exceptionally interesting. When included in your company’s newsletter, they help your reader know more about your business.
Right? WRONG! This information is of no value to your business.
If you’re citing these kinds of passages in your company newsletter, you’re wasting valuable space—not to mention your readers’ time. They deserve better.
But, you say, your readers like the quotes. Of course they do. However, you probably are not in the feel-good business. Tell them to sign up for daily quotes on Google. Better yet, there must be an app for that.
The primary purpose of communications is to support business objectives—not to give employees what they want. Your role is to help employees understand your company’s goals and strategies so they will be better employees and more informed advocates for the business.
Focus on the company
At the workplace, employees are deluged with information from multiple sources, including the Web, email, newsletters, and bulletin boards. It’s a wonder they read anything at all. Throw too much at them, and you risk them tuning out everything.
Employees simply want to know the essentials. To paraphrase a typical employee’s plea: “Just tell me where we are going, how we will get there, what my role is, and what’s in it for me. Then give me time to digest the facts and offer my thoughts in response.”
When you do share news or information with employees, you must ensure it’s worth their time.
Next time you have extra space in your newsletter, use it to promote business literacy and communicate noteworthy information about your company, newest product or latest initiative.
Here are some ideas for filling in precious extra space:
1. “It’s a fact” statements
These are “gee whiz” facts that help provide context about a subject.
For example: “A 1-cent increase in the price of a gallon of fuel translates into an additional $25 million in annual costs for our company.”
2. “What to say when”
Include answers to questions that customers frequently ask about your company.
For example: “When asked about upgrading on an airline flight, the answer might be: ‘The upgrade list we have is not visible, and even if it were, the order of the list constantly changes as new customers are added and removed; so I would never want to misinform you.'”
3. Employee quotes
Highlight actual employee comments and thoughts about a company project or program.
For example: “This is really good. I’ve been looking at jersey barriers and plastic sheets for years now. This is a relief. It’s a new set of challenges—a learning curve, but I believe the new bag system will make our operation a lot better,” said Mr. Employee.
These types of proof points, answers and employee excerpts will not only improve the validity of your newsletter, but they’ll also educate your employees about your business.
Yes, this is hard work—as are so many things that are worth doing. Thinking up ideas, researching facts, seeking out employees, seeking approvals—all of this is time-consuming. Again, your role as a business leader is to communicate about the business—to provide details and context that help tell your stories and deliver key messages to employees.
Once you start including meaningful facts and information in your newsletter, your employees won’t even miss quotes such as this:
“Do a little more each day than you think you possibly can.” (Lowell Thomas)
Note: Logging onto the Internet, fast-forwarding to Google, finding three quotes, copying and pasting them into this story took less than 30 seconds.
Rhonda J. Rathje, APR, is a corporate communicator in Texas.