PR TECHNIQUE INTERNAL COMMUNICATIONS - Business TV: ’I know - let’s put on a show!’ - Companies that run their own internal TV networks find them a great way to stay in touch with employees and boost morale. But it’s not ea

When Warner-Lambert and American Home Products announced a planned merger in early November, Warner-Lambert employees didn’t need to turn to CNN or CNBC to get the details. The company used its corporate TV network to broadcast its own press conference to its headquarters campus, as well as to several plants.

When Warner-Lambert and American Home Products announced a planned merger in early November, Warner-Lambert employees didn’t need to turn to CNN or CNBC to get the details. The company used its corporate TV network to broadcast its own press conference to its headquarters campus, as well as to several plants.

When Warner-Lambert and American Home Products announced a planned

merger in early November, Warner-Lambert employees didn’t need to turn

to CNN or CNBC to get the details. The company used its corporate TV

network to broadcast its own press conference to its headquarters

campus, as well as to several plants.



The former Chrysler Corp. took the same approach last year when it

announced its merger with Germany’s Daimler-Benz. Chrysler has had a

corporate TV network, now composed of 10 channels, since the 1980s. As

of September 1, the operation became known as DaimlerChrysler Business

TV, reaching more than 420,000 employees in 36 countries.



Business TV networks aren’t for everyone, those involved are quick to

point out. But for companies with multiple locations and large numbers

of employees who don’t have access to personal computers, they can be an

important part of the overall employee communications toolkit.



’There’s not one technology that’s an answer to all your communications

needs,’ notes Harold Sieloff, manager of the Ford Communications

Network, Ford Motor Co.’s TV operation. Business TV can be one of the

technologies that makes sense for employee communications, if companies

have done their homework in determining the objectives for such a system

and in analyzing the cost versus alternative technologies.



Business TV, with monitors put in places such as break rooms, cafeterias

and reception areas, can convey and reinforce important company messages

provided through such avenues as newsletters and intranet sites. It also

can be used for training classes and for spotlighting employees and

projects. Such soft news can help build a sense of pride in a

company.



Major systems like those run by DaimlerChrysler and Ford can cost

millions of dollars annually for equipment, satellite time and

personnel. But other companies have found cheaper routes. Those include

relying on video slides rather than live commentators, and contracting

with outside providers that can furnish content and the staff and

equipment needed for occasional live broadcasts, such as an important

company press event.



At Warner-Lambert, for example, Judy Bello, SVP of colleague

communications, is budgeting dollars 50,000 a site to cover TVs and

wiring costs to expand her network. She uses PCs to supply video slides

to her system and buys other information from an outside vendor to fill

time between company news and features. Phyllis Ely, marketing director

with Target Vision, Rochester, NY, the vendor Warner-Lambert works with,

notes that a very basic business TV setup, which includes an editing

system, a display system and several TVs, can be had for roughly dollars

25,000.



Some, like consultant Don Sheppard, CEO of Sheppard Associates,

Glendale, CA, contend companies might be better off investing that money

in PCs and Web-based systems. Sheppard notes that the interactivity of

company intranets can make them more effective than TV broadcasts for

such things as employee training courses.



But others note that much of the work force still has no access to PCs.

DaimlerChrysler, for example, has tens of thousands of blue collar

employees without PC access, says Mike Gonda, senior manager of business

television. ’The farther you get from the corporate headquarters, the

more valuable the TV is,’ he adds. And the Internet is still less than

ideal when it comes to showing video.



Companies considering business TV, or those looking to enhance the

effectiveness of existing systems, should first consider what they’ll

show. Employees expect information to be fresh and relevant to them,

says Nicholas Kalm, SVP at Edelman, who has worked on many employee TV

projects.



DaimlerChrysler runs five minutes of company and auto industry news,

followed by five minutes of what it calls technical slides - text-only

screens on quality initiatives, new employee information and the like -

followed by a five-minute feature on a particular plant or employee, and

another five minutes of slides. It repeats this 20-minute cycle three

times an hour, 24 hours a day. A second channel is used for

long-distance teaching.



Ford runs a five- to seven-minute news and information show followed by

five to 10 minutes of what it terms ’sponsored programs’ - features on

such topics as health and safety issues or new technology. Those regular

shows are repeated throughout the day with text slides run

in-between.



Both companies will cut to live press briefings by company officials

when events warrant. The goal of such specials is to make sure employees

hear what’s happening at their company from the company rather than from

third-party sources.



Replaying company news throughout a 24-hour day also helps make

late-shift employees feel like they matter to the company, adds

Warner-Lambert’s Bello. Roughly three-quarters of Warner employees have

no PC access, she notes, and, in many plants, company literature given

out at the start of a day is often gone by the time the late shift

arrives. ’The first shift knows everything and the third shift knows

nothing’ is a common employee complaint, Bello says.



But the whole point of a business TV system is to impart information in

a non-invasive way to make everyone feel included. ’It’s just a great

medium to get the news and information to your employees first,’ says

DaimlerChrysler’s Gonda. ’They feel like they’re part of the team.’





DOS AND DON’TS



DO



1 Keep content fresh and relevant to employees.



2 Use business TV for training programs and instructional videos.



3 Show employees at work to bolster morale and create a sense of

community.



4 Explain why you have the system to employees.



5 Use business TV to broadcast newsworthy company information before

employees hear it elsewhere.



6 Use it to reach constituencies outside your work force. Automakers use

their TV networks to reach dealers as well as employees, for

example.





DON’T



1 Use employee TV as an excuse to eliminate other forms of employee

communications or face-to-face contact with senior management.



2 Use only professional on-air talent. Workers like to see each other on

TV.



3 Leave screens devoid of information. Blank screens will turn off

employees.



4 Leave on screen out-dated information about company events, training

sessions, etc.



5 Think you’ll need to spend millions to maintain a network. Cheaper

approaches can be used.



Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in

Would you like to post a comment?

Please Sign in or register.