Why do employee profiles so often lead to C.R.A.P.?

There’s nothing wrong with writing about employees … but let’s find interesting people and ask them interesting questions—about their jobs!

It’s the first thing they teach you at Corporate Communicator School: If you’re going to do an employee publication, you have to write about employees.

And that’s true. If all you do is quote the same pasty-faced white executives in every issue, you won’t have any readers. At C.R.A.P. (Corporate Rhetoric Awards Program) Central, I fully support writing about employees.

But, you have to do it the right way. And many, many editors screw it up.

This week’s award goes to an editor who screwed it up. She tried to use a very common method of squeezing an employee into the publication: The “Employee Spotlight” article.

This is when you single out some employee, usually at random, and do a Q&A with them. Now, the right way to do this is to really dig into their jobs: what are their biggest challenges at work, how do they work with other departments, how do they fit into the bigger picture, how do they help the organization achieve its objectives, etc.?

Of course, doing it that way means putting some time into the interview. It means pushing the subject to answer some tough questions. It means asking a second, third and fourth question until you get to a good nugget of interesting information.

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