Monday, March 18, 2013

Lousy Business Communications

Sometimes managements can really do a lousy job of communicating.  When that happens, I always wonder if they are just careless, unaware of what they should be doing, or are being intentionally abusive to staff and other stakeholders.  In most cases, they don’t know enough to seek communications advice – or they are getting bad advice.

You can decide for yourself, but here is a case in point.

The setting is an independently owned local radio station in a mid-size city.  The station, which had an all-sports format, had been having financial problems and was losing market share to other similar stations.  Ratings were not good.  Nevertheless, the station had round-the-clock scheduling with mostly local hosts on a variety of sports topics.  Computer service — on which its hosts were dependent — was often spotty.  The “new website” has been under construction for months, putting a damper on necessary information.   All the negative signs were there. 

Then one day, the station’s employees see a headline in the daily newspaper that the station is about to change its format from sports to girl-talk.  The management of the station has never said word one to its sports broadcasters:  no email, no letter, no in-person group or one-on-one meetings, no pre-press release, no voicemail, no social media – literally nothing. 

Except … there must have been a press release delivered to the media to make the story possible.  Once it was released, an announcement was issued that there would be a press conference the next day.  But no invitations were delivered to the broadcasters or staff. 

A week has passed since the conference and still nothing from the station management to its team now in place.  The station management is talking new lineup but fails to communicate with the old crew, who most likely will be out of work, but were never officially notified.   Will their contracts be respected?  Will there be any outplacement support? What are their cut-off dates, so hosts can inform listeners?

What are your thoughts?  My guess is that management is a bit careless and never sought communications advice, a major blunder in a small market where reputations are made or broken daily.  Not the smartest way to get a new business off the ground.

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