Be Nice! Especially In Corporate Communication!

Recently, the news has been filled with corporate communication blunders. Sure, bad press shines a negative light on your company’s image and products. But executives also need to realize that when insensitive corporate communication letters are leaked to the public, their employer brand also suffers in the court of public opinion.

In particular, I’m referring to the Twitter email in which all 186 job candidates were CC’ed on the same form rejection letter. Imagine the recipients’ surprise upon opening the email and seeing the email address of everyone they were stacked up against for the position. While I’m sure Krissy Bush, the HR manager, made an honest mistake by overlooking the BCC field, it was still very inconsiderate and insensitive to the people hoping to land the Business Product Manager position at Twitter. The rejected applicants surely have a bad taste in their mouths. Candidates get warm fuzzies when they’re individually recognized by an organization, not when they’re sent a blanket email. Even if the candidate is not the guy for the job right now, he might be perfect for an opening six months down the road. The way in which the news of his initial rejection is handled will affect his decision to accept an offer later.

Twitter’s employer brand is even more damaged because the email was leaked to blogs. Hundreds of people have read the email and most likely do not approve of the way these candidates were handled. This email will surely be in the back of future Twitter hopefuls’ minds – regardless of whether they proactively apply themselves or are recruited. No one desires to work for a company they feel doesn’t value its employees and job candidates. It doesn’t imply that working there will be a good professional experience.

Can insensitive communication be prevented? Absolutely! It all goes back to the golden rule: Do onto others as you would wish them to do onto you. In other words, treat people how you would like to be treated. When composing correspondence handling sensitive information, imagine how you would react after reading the material. Would you be miffed, embarrassed or hurt? If so, change the text to be more delicate.

That said, no one’s perfect. Oopsies happen. And when they do, backpeddal fast! I’m not sure if Krissy Bush or another Twitter representative issued an apology or not, but they should have.

What HR managers should learn from the Twitter email is that it’s easier than ever for questionable corporate communication to be leaked in a very public way. You can try to put a disclaimer at the bottom of the correspondence, but as illustrated, it’s not much of a deterrent (especially for people who are upset). It’s no surprise that one of the 186 people on that email sought vindication by forwarding it to ValleyWag. HR Managers should always assume that correspondence will be leaked. Operate as if you are addressing the public, even if the communication is intended only for internal use. Hopefully, this will ensure the content of your communication is professional and appropriate, minimizing any damage your company might endure in terms of employer brand and public image.

Thomas Delorme
Written by Thomas Delorme

VP, Digital Products & Strategy

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