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Transparency breeds trust

Toeing the party line. It’s often what grinds people’s gears most about internal communications. Picture it. As a reader, I KNOW a debate happened about pensions because I was there in the room when it took place. However, once again, the business comms has chosen to ignore that part. Or, actually, I’ve met that leader and he’s far more irreverent in person than that article makes him out to be – and I like and respect him for it.

So, why does it happen? Why is it so subjective? There’s often internal wrangling over what should and shouldn’t be said on various subjects. And essentially, it comes down to opinion – or a difference of it.

Just recently, a satirical cartoonist at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette lost his job due to editorial censorship on his work, after six cartoons were spiked in a row, leading to uproar from readers. The Mayor of Pittsburgh, Bill Peduto, said that the move: “Sends the wrong message about press freedoms in a time when they are under siege”. He added: “This decision, just one day after the President of the United States said the news media is our country’s biggest enemy, sets a low standard in the 232-year history of the newspaper.”




While we’re not dealing with Donald Trump in internal communications – well, not at scarlettabbott, anyway – we do enjoy a healthy debate and challenge, where it adds value.


When we’re given the freedom as writers and communications professionals to say what happened and to share an objective and balanced view, great things can happen.



One of our clients, Anglian Water, asks us to write its news with an objective, third-person style of editorial. They want their readers to have a deeper connection with the material through authentic writing – and it works. It’s the right style for their audience and their business.

In our recent IC and channels audit, 73 per cent of respondents rated their communications as good or above, with offline employees favouring Anglian Water News as their preferred source of communication.




It works with opinion, too. Letting your employees have their say through an internal channel makes a huge difference to morale and helps them connect with your message in a much deeper way.

We’re often in a privileged position to hear some very raw opinions from colleagues but, as with many conversations, that’s not necessarily the version they’d want to share more publicly. It’s about finding something they’re comfortable saying that’s also a true reflection of your conversation.

The best bits of opinion are the unexpected ones – and they often give a hook to the story, turning it from tosh into a tale. And it’s much less forgettable. Your people will always remember who stood up and said that thing not everyone agreed with. If we all toed the party line, nothing would ever change.



If we all toed the party line, nothing would ever change.



How much more rewarding, then, for both interviewer and interviewee to turn their questions and answers into a chat. As readers, we disengage with jargon and can smell business BS a mile off, actively choosing not to engage with journalism we don’t feel fits our values or life choices. So why do leaders think that their people will be more forgiving with their colleague publications?


Powering conversations


At scarlettabbott, we’ve honed this craft through many years of experience in the field – our Content team has interviewed countless people and no two conversations are ever the same. No matter where they’ve come from or where they’re going, we take each interview as it comes, person by person, and get the best out of them.

We’re evangelical in our approach to powering conversations – for our clients and our reputation. So why not ask us how we can get the best from your people. But expect us to challenge what you think in order to deliver the right result.


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