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By Thomas Baekdal - March 2012

Transparent Employee Meetings

In this ultra-connected world, one thing that many (including myself) encourage brands to do is to be much more transparent. The act of hiding behind print advertisements simply doesn't work in a social world dominated by two-way connections.

You have to open yourself up, because social success equals the feeling of being a part of something.

So here is an idea. Why don't you live-stream your next employee meeting to everyone on the internet?

Okay, okay...I know is probably not such a good idea, but it is interesting to think about, because what is preventing you from doing it? What arguments do you have for not allowing that to happen?

Here are some of the arguments that I have heard in the past:

We don't want our competitors to know what we are doing!

This could be a very valid argument, but it's often one put forward by companies who are not doing anything that special. And companies who are competing with other companies who are also not doing anything special.

Think of it like this. When it comes to great brands, a big reason people buy their products is because of the brands themselves. If you like Nike, you don't buy a pair of sneakers from Adidas.

The brands who are afraid of their competitors are usually the type of companies who doesn't really have a brand to begin with. That is their real problem.

If what you create is the same as everyone else, then yes ...letting your competitors know before you launch is a big concern, but it is rarely a problem if what you create is unique and you are known for that.

We see the same problem, for instance, with newspapers. One suggestion that many have put forward is for newspapers to open up what kind of stories they are working on, because that invites reader participation and might lead to better informed stories.

But newspapers don't want to do that, because they know if they post an idea for a story, 100 other newspapers will steal it (which is true). But consider this, if David Pogue writes that he will review a new camera next week, it doesn't matter if 100 other newspapers steals that idea. You are not reading David Pogue's article just to hear about the camera; you are reading to hear what David Pogue thinks about it.

Preventing your competitors from knowing what you are doing is only a concern when you are not unique. The problem is not your competitors; the problem is with yourself.

We don't want people to see what our brand is really like

This is also a legitimate concern for many brands. The problem is that, in the past, marketing was in charge of taking your average product and creating a brand image around it that made it more than it really was.

It was a good strategy...in the 1980s. But in today's social world, people don't share your advertisements, people share your products based on how they feel about them.

If you are afraid of letting people see how you work, you have a serious problem on your hands. If your brand image doesn't reflect the spirit within the company, then you are living in the past world of branding.

The problem is not to live-stream your employee meeting; the problem is that you are living a lie. You are telling people one thing, while doing another.

If there is one thing that people don't care about, it's when something is faked - and people are extremely good at identifying false brand images.

A much bigger question is, why would people care? What are you doing that would make people interested in watching you work?

There are many other examples of why brands don't want to live-stream their employee meetings, but the point is that the reason is rarely the live-stream itself, but rather problematic business practices and lackluster employee spirits.

If your brand is unique, and every employee believe in what they do, live streaming would be a great way to "open up". For instance, look at TWiT.tv. Not only are they live-streaming their shows, they are also live-streaming anything that goes on in between the shows. This sometimes leads to some awkward moments, but they great fun for the rest of us.

Now, I wouldn't recommend that you live-stream your meetings. But it is interesting to think about the things that prevent you from being open and transparent, mostly because the answers are usually shortcomings in yourself.

It's not about being fancy. It's about being real. it's about being true to what you do and it's about aligning the purpose of your company with the people who work there.

 
 
 

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Thomas Baekdal

Founder, media analyst, author, and publisher. Follow on Twitter

"Thomas Baekdal is one of Scandinavia's most sought-after experts in the digitization of media companies. He has made ​​himself known for his analysis of how digitization has changed the way we consume media."
Swedish business magazine, Resumé

 

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