Thursday, May 14

Managing Messages: Seven Fs

One of the best contributions Joanna Blockey, ABC, a communication specialist for Southwest Gas Corporation, lends to my class every year is the seven Fs of employee communication. I found myself thinking about them yesterday as they related to the Twitter misfire and other communication failures in social media.

While some people might wonder what social networks could possibly learn from employee relations, it seems clear enough to me. Participants engaged in a social network develop a sense of community. And, like any community, they aren't just users, customers, consumers, or participants (even if we use those words as descriptors). They are stakeholders. They are much more closely aligned to employees or residents or investors than loosely connected customers casually using a service. (Even if they use it for free.)

Social network members shape the communities in which they participate.

They invite people to join. They promote the network. They keep people engaged. They drive the conversations. They report the violations. They develop unique ways to expand the intended services. They make investments. And, they deserve the same seven Fs that Blockey prescribes for internal communication.

1. First. Be the source of information for your community. Report any news first.

2. Fast. Respond to feedback quickly, effectively, and in a timely manner. Share information fast.

3. Fair. Not all news is good news, but even bad news can be fair. Empathy remains one of most often missed ingredients in communication.

4. Focused. Attempting to sidestep pressing issues in favor of the frivolous is not much different than AstroTurf. Communication deserves to be prioritized.

5. Friendly. Sarcasm is sometimes warranted, but mean-spirited personal attacks never resonate. It doesn't resonate with those attacked nor anyone watching.

6. Factual. Make sure the information is factual. Sure, sometimes things change, but they tend to change less when facts are reported in the first place.

7. Follow Up. Communication is warranted until the stakeholders are satisfied. If they have more questions, answer them and offer time lines for updates.

This might seem overly simple to some, but the fundamentals are sound. After all, whether you call them tribes or communities or online customers, they don't follow as much as they develop relationships that some even define "like a family."


Neptune Rising on 5/14/09, 7:44 PM said...

Great advice that can be applied to alot of different life applications.

Mark from Neptune Rising

Rich on 5/15/09, 5:07 PM said...


So good to see a comment from you Mark. I was thinking about you. I am drawing a comparison and including Veronica Mars today. Hope you don't mind.

All my best,


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