Allow me to take you back to September 2008, the days of the global credit crunch. The crisis affected our company too and as a result of cost-cutting measures and lay-offs our Headquarter organization was full or rumors. There were even rumors op a pending bankruptcy, which was not the case at all, but in the midst of the news around the credit crisis nobody seemed to know how bad things could become.
Our Workers Council specifically asked our management to communicate more, as many employees were looking for reliable information about the company’s situation. We, at the Corporate Communications Department felt the same way. We sat down with management and created a communication story line that cascaded through the organization, basically just telling the truth. Yes, it is hard, no we are not going bankrupt, and yes we have communicated all we know.
Regular internal communications practices so far, but we did something out of the ordinary as well. Right after the communication cascade, we launched a site on our intranet, called the Rumorbuster. Here, people could check if a rumor was true or false. They could send their questions to an email address. We checked with our management and posted the answers on the Rumorbuster page. We processed more than a hundred questions, and that was hard work! But it paid out, as the initiative was a great success. In the first few weeks we ran a survey on the site and the response was very positive:
I think the Rumorbuster is a good initiative
The Rumorbuster gives clear and hones answers
The Rumorbuster should be used more often for internal communications
The Rumorbuster was active for a few months. After a while all rumors were successfully busted, no more questions came in., and in all honesty, we were left with a few questions that just could not be answered.
Why was the Rumorbuster such a success? Well, I think because it gave real, honest information with a twist of fun. The fun factor was not only the logo, but we played around with it as well. For example, during the Christmas holidays we published a picture with the Rumorbuster on skis, announcing a short holiday.
But I think the most important factor was that it just did what internal communications should do in my view: BE REAL, our employees read newspapers and blogs too, so just tell the truth, take your internal audience serious, they deserve it.