Manager Communications Strategies

Susan Rink of Rink Strategic Communications provides insight and strategies for manager communications in this video, including strategies for communicating adverse news to employees, such as layoffs.  For more information and employee communications tips, please visit

Broadcast Email Communications Tips

Are your employees bombarded with too much email? Susan Rink provides employee communicators with advice for how to handle broadcast email for their companies or organizations.

For more information and employee communications tips, please visit

Communicators, Get Ready for Healthcare Reform

Image of U.S. flag with stethescope

All signs indicate that Congress will pass healthcare reform legislation before the end of this year.

While there have been vast differences of opinion about the reform legislation, I think we can all agree that — once the bill is signed into law – employers will need to inform their employees about the changes that will impact them and their benefits.

The good news is that most organizations are either in the process of, or have just completed, annual benefits enrollment.  So there should be some processes already in place for communicating benefits changes.

The bad news — we don’t know exactly what the law will mandate, and exactly how the law will change our company’s benefit offerings.  Unfortunately, our employees will expect to hear that information as soon as the media reports passage of the bill.  And they will get frustrated by our inability to provide specific details.

In this scenario, the best course of action is to start communicating now, start setting the expectation that the HR team is tracking the healthcare reform debate and working proactively with current benefits providers to ensure that information is communicated as soon as details are available.

I’d recommend equipping managers and executives with a holding statement, similar to the ones used in the early phases of a crisis, which reinforces both the organization’s preparations and the plans for ongoing information updates.

You should also be working now on FAQs.  It shouldn’t be hard to determine which questions should be addressed if you’ve been following the healthcare debate:

  • How will I (and my family) be impacted?
  • Will I need to switch my coverage?
  • How much more with this cost me?
  • What are my options for getting insurance?

You might also want to prepare a presentation deck that can be used either by a department manager, or by the HR leader during an all-hands meeting or webinar.  You won’t have enough details to release it until after the bill becomes law, but at least you’ll have a head start.

Don’t delay.  Pull your communications team together and start working now on your plans for communicating what has the potential to be the biggest change facing your employees in the past few decades.

Susan C. Rink is principal of Rink Strategic Communications, which helps clients take their employee communications to the next level.  Email her at

Strategic Messaging and Employee Communications

In this 5-minute video, Susan Rink, principal of Rink Strategic Communications, shares tips for communicating strategy, culture and brand information to employees through the use of strategic messaging.

Susan provides specific tips for how to make sure employees have the information they need to do their jobs, as well as recommendations for aligning the corporate brand with corporate communications.

For more information, please visit or email

How to Measure the Effectiveness of Your Employee Communications

In this 6-minute video, PRSA-NCC member Susan Rink (of Rink Strategic Communications) describes how communicators can measure their employee communications efforts and report the results to the company’s leadership.

Learn how to construct and use visual tools, such as a communications vehicles matrix.

For more information, please visit, or contact

Think About the “Whys”

whyYesterday’s retrospectives on the life and legacy of Sen. Edward Kennedy reinforced his reputation as a passionate, eloquent speaker. 

Throughout the day, news stories showed clips of interviews with and platform speeches delivered by an articulate, charismatic champion of civil rights and equality.

Yet one clip from his failed Presidential campaign in 1980 stood apart from the others.

In this clip, a reporter asked the late Senator why he wanted to be President.  A fairly straightforward question for any candidate seeking that office, right?

The Senator’s response?  “Ummm……ahhhh….”

No wonder Kennedy failed to gather support for his campaign.  It’s hard to rally around a candidate who cannot tell you why you should vote for him.

Managing people is a lot like managing a political campaign – managers try to build support for their ideas and rally groups of people to accomplish a common goal.  And like politicians, managers often find themselves having to support or defend a decision or action made by someone else.

Their employees expect them to know the answers, to be able to provide context for the action or decision.  Unfortunately, in most cases managers are briefed on the “what”, but they don’t have the information they need to answer the “whys”.

So often when developing change communications plans, communications professionals overlook the role of the manager in reinforcing our messaging.  We fail to equip our managers with anything beyond the most superficial talking points.  As a result, we set our managers up for failure.

As any parent knows, “Because I said so” isn’t an effective answer.  Likewise, “Because the CEO says we should” won’t motivate employees to embrace change.

Managers must be able to articulate, in plain terms, why the decision or change is a good one, what the consequences of inaction are, and what benefits the employees will see as a result.  If they are unable to do so, your elaborate change management communications campaign has little chance of succeeding.

My advice to communicators:  Don’t let your managers twist in the wind.  Give them the information they need to address those tricky “whys” and win the support of their employees.  In the end, everyone wins.

Time to Dust off That Communication Strategy

It’s the same scenario every year. You return to the office after a relaxing Labor Day weekend and what is waiting for you? A memo from the boss informing you that the first drafts of budgets are due on Friday.

That’s right, in four days. So you scramble to pull together something that reflects your goals for the coming year, and in doing so at warp speed, you neglect to build in funding for new programs or expansion of current ones.

And let’s not forget that this year will be even more challenging; with drastic cuts in program and personnel budgets, many communicators will be hard-pressed to justify maintaining current programs, let alone introducing any new expenditures.

You know it’s coming. So why not take advantage of these next two weeks to start thinking about your communications strategy and do some preliminary work on your budget projections for the coming year?

My advice: pull out that dusty file with your communications strategy and take a hard, unbiased look at the strategic direction – does it still support the company’s business strategy and goals? Are you reaching all audiences? Are your programs effective?

Don’t forget to review any metrics that you have been collecting over the past year. This is the time to cut programs that don’t bring a solid return on investment (and return on effort!) and re-direct those funds to more effective deliverables.

Next, gather your team for a working lunch. Challenge your team to do some online benchmarking and come prepared with ideas to “steal shamelessly” and implement in your own organization. Tap your team’s creativity and brainstorm ways to improve and expand your current deliverables in the coming year. Discuss no cost/low cost ways to re-energize a tired vehicle, to make programs more cost-effective, to drive participation in events and meetings.

Once you’ve got your updated plan, along with budget projections, print it out and leave it on your boss’s desk when you head out the door on the Friday before Labor Day.

Then go off and enjoy your three-day weekend, secure in the knowledge that you will be well ahead of the curve when you return to the office on Tuesday morning.

Susan C. Rink is principal of Rink Strategic Communications, which helps clients take their employee communications to the next level.  Email her at