Steve Crescenzo
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Is it time to (gasp!) publish photos of pets and babies again?

Steve Crescenzo is the CEO of Crescenzo Communications. Through his work as a consultant, workshop leader, speaker and writer, he has helped tens of thousands of communicators improve their communication tactics, channels, and content.

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When I wandered into the weird, wonderful world of employee communications back in 1994, I learned at the feet of the great Larry Ragan.

Along with Roger D’Aprix and a few others, Larry was one of the founders of what we consider “employee communications” today.

A brilliant man. And a wonderful mentor.

Larry was one of the first people to make fun of what was then known as “house organs”: AKA, employee publications. Printed ones (remember print!?).

And he was right – most were terrible. Tons of fluff. Larry would rail against printing “bowling scores and baby announcements.”

He hated that stuff. He thought employees deserved a Serious Publication about the business of the business.

I’ve carried that mentality with me throughout my career. And most of the industry eventually caught on.

As a result, internal communicators have gone from the ‘company social director’ to valued strategic counsellors.

And just as Covid clarified the importance of internal communications as a function, it also changed the scope of internal communications content.

Keeping employees at home triggered a shift to more “personal” content.

Yes, employees want information about the business—presented in a clear, concise, transparent, jargon-free manner—but they’re also craving human stories.

They want that connection, that sense of community, with their co-workers.

Here’s what I’m seeing…

Home work-space photo contests!

Larry hated photo contests in employee publications. But he might like these. People are proud of the ‘home offices’ they’ve set up.

From 6-foot house plants to standing desks, employees love to see where their colleagues get stuff done.

Pet photos and stories!

We all have that cat who walks across our computer during the Zoom call or the damn dog that won’t stop barking.

I was interviewing the CFO of a big company a month ago, and he had to pause the interview because his daughter’s pet rabbit got out!

A reminder that even the most stony-faced executive has a softer side.

Zoom happy hours!

Larry would approve of this one. When he would go on the road to teach workshops, he would always buy wine and snacks to host a happy hour afterwards. Managers and leaders are now hosting those meetups virtually.

Virtual book and movie clubs!

People with similar interests across the company gather together for virtual discussions. And I have seen employee communicators do small reports on them!

Again, just another way of keeping people connected.

But here’s the main differences between then and now.

The Communicators don’t have to be in charge of gathering the photos, or the stories. They need to set up a digital environment, and everyone else contributes.

Communicators can be involved, but they don’t have to be the company’s social director.

That way, we can help build connections across the company… while keeping our focus where it should be: on strategic employee communication.

It seems to be the best of both worlds. What do you think?