“Just give me some truth,
All I want is the truth.”
– John Lennon
In this most difficult and unsettling (to put it mildly . . .) economic time, announcements of job cuts have become all too common. Whether called a layoff, RIF, headcount reduction, strategic restructuring or “utilization reassessment” (a personal favorite), the bottom line is the same. It’s bad news, and no one likes to deliver it. And most companies don’t like to have it delivered for them either. But the bottom line is the bottom line, and companies that refuse to adapt to changes in their environment can end up as vague memories.
Often caught in the middle of these maelstroms are public relations professionals whose job it is to speak on behalf of their companies or clients. In years past, public relations professionals have been dinged – sometimes rightfully so – for engaging in corporate-speak, back-pedaling or the ever-popular “spin control” when announcing staff cuts. Honesty and authenticity have become all too rare.
How refreshing it was then to see this comment from the senior vice president of corporate communications for a Fortune 100 company (and a client of mine): “The message for the last several months has been that ‘We don’t foresee any mass layoffs,'” he said in an interview Friday. “Maybe that wasn’t a good way to say it. “Our point has been that mass layoffs were not going happen at [this company] like at some others that have cut thousands of jobs. But there are no guarantees that positions will not be eliminated and employees not be impacted.”
Talk about honesty. Talk about humility. Talk about straight-talk. Talk about a BGO. That’s what all employees – and all of us, for that matter – want and deserve.
And that’s what smart public relations professionals make sure their organizations deliver.