Companies observe Hispanic Heritage Month, persuasive vaccine messaging and much more

Learn how companies are shifting their workflows amid ongoing turmoil, get fresh onboarding tips, and grab your weekly dose of uplifting stories.

Week in comms 9-16-21

Hello, communicators!

We hope you enjoy this week’s batch of stories, which hopefully offer useful takeaways that make your job a bit easier. Here are some of the top stories for the week of Sept. 13-17, 2021.

1. Observing National Hispanic Heritage Month—con autenticidad.

Sept. 15 marked the start of Hispanic Heritage Month. How is your company observing this monthlong cultural celebration? Hopefully not like this! Or this!

Before offering up a well-meaning fiesta, taco bar or other pandering ploy, make sure you’ve received plenty of guidance and input from your Hispanic colleagues. Ask questions, such as:

  • What can we do that would be meaningful during this month and beyond?
  • What sorts of stories could or should we tell?
  • Is there anything we should avoid?

You might also consider reading this piece, which takes a rather dim view of corporate efforts to mark the occasion:

“It’s almost Sept. 15, which means any day now my Instagram stories will be packed with cringe-worthy ads targeted at the Latinx community: references to chanclas and cafecitos, or social media managers of corporate accounts trying to tweet in Spanish. That’s what Hispanic Heritage Month has been reduced to in my eyes: a month when brands pander to us, hoping to convince us to spend our last few centavos.”

So, how can you serve up something of substance, without veering into the territory of stereotypes, obligatory stories or gross pandering?

For starters, stop and ask yourself “why” we need to have the conversation instead of spending energy on “what” to do, advises RCG consultant Kim Clark.

“The root of performative communications and cultural moments is the “why” question going unanswered. It makes sense because it’s a harder and more introspective conversation that needs to happen. So, we tend to opt for the “what” we do and call it a day… or month,” she says.

Among her guidance: Have an honest conversation about why DE&I is important, and tie your efforts to your mission and values. And, make sure your content strategy follows the three Cs.

Also, ask your workforce which term they find most inclusive and accurate. There’s not universal agreement on whether “Hispanic,” “Latino” or “Latinx” is preferred. Also, don’t lean too heavily on Google Translate.

Next, you can see what others are doing.

  • FedEx is featuring Q&As with team members who are willing to share about their unique heritage.
  • Nickelodeon made a song.
  • Barbie launched two new dolls.

Here’s what 30+ other companies are doing, and here’s another slew of ideas to consider.

Whatever you end up doing to celebrate during this month, keep in mind that the U.S. Hispanic population is now north of 62 million—and growing strong. If your company hasn’t traditionally done a great job of recruiting, engaging and retaining this vital segment of our country, now would be a great time to remedy that and make sure it’s a companywide priority.

2. Science reveals the most persuasive style of vaccine messaging.

How can we get vaccine holdouts to consider getting the jab?

A communication scientist from Penn State believes “forceful” messaging is not the ticket. In fact, he posits that harsh, accusatory or guilting communication tactics may backfire.

He cites President Biden’s recent strong push for vaccine mandates, which included statements such as, “We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin. And your refusal has cost all of us.”

The author suggests taking a more strategic tack with the specific audience you’re trying to reach, writing:

“When it comes to embracing new ideas and practices, research has identified five categories of people: innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority and laggards. With COVID-19 vaccination, it’s come down to the last two, and they are the most resistant to change.”

How can we persuade the “late majority” and “laggards” among us to get inoculated? The data seems to show that we’ll catch more flies with honey rather than vinegar. The author writes:

“Research in health communication shows that directive messages can be perceived as ‘high threat,’ meaning they threaten the free will of the message receiver by dictating what they should do. In other words, when individuals sense a threat to their freedom of action, they become motivated to restore that freedom, often by attempting to do the very thing that is prohibited or by refusing to adhere to the recommended behavior.”

As any parent knows, you tend to get more compliance when you make someone feel as though they have options and a choice in the matter. But it’s all in how you couch the messaging.

The author concludes that “suggestive, rather than directive, messages allow room for people to exercise their own free will.”

Of course, mankind can only exercise free will so long as we’re alive, so let’s hope we can achieve that sweet herd immunity sooner than later. The key might be using carrots rather than sticks. Or splashing cash!

3. How companies are shifting how they operate.

The BBC shares how four companies are adapting their business models, scheduling and workflows to accommodate ongoing pandemic turmoil.

The piece offers nitty-gritty details on how each entity is struggling to reach and retain workers amid “The Great Resignation”—though those offering flexibility and prioritizing work/life balance seem to be faring with greater resilience.

The piece concludes:

“While not every business will be making sweeping changes to the ways employees work, companies will be looking to each other for inspiration as well as trialing new models and practices to see what’s working. However, it’s clear that those who are making changes can see productivity and employee-wellbeing benefits that will endure far beyond this initial post-pandemic back-to-work phase. ‘The repercussions of the pandemic have shocked the world into a more equitable and balanced workplace that is a far better fit for the future of the workplace,’ says Codility CEO Natalia Panowicz. ‘Simply put, for work to be at its best, it needs to fit into life.’

For those working for companies that are struggling to adapt—and perhaps not delivering on pandemic-era promises—here are six signs it’s time to resign.

4. Eight ways to streamline your onboarding process.

As workers continue quitting their jobs in droves, comms pros would be wise to help beef up their companies’ onboarding process in any way possible. Gallup is here with some helpful tips, which include:

  • Foster meaningful relationships.
  • Show new hires where they can contribute.
  • Create a journey that’s intuitive and easy.
  • Find creative ways to build connections.
  • Add experiences that bring your culture to life.
  • Create a formal mentorship program.

The piece ends with this exhortation: “That is, if leaders want to compete for talent — not to mention keep it — they need to create an onboarding journey that can only be described as exceptional.”

5. Your weekly dose of comms inspiration.

Let’s close with some nice news! This week, let’s draw encouragement from:

Take good care of yourselves, comms champions. And never miss an opportunity to delight your audience.

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