Monday, July 31, 2006

Sky, Water, Trees

I didn't posted for a while as I went off to the Pacific Northwest to get some inspiration from nature. I left my laptop at home. Out there my cell phone didn't work. It was wonderful to see the bald eagles soaring up above. I watched the sky, listening to the sound of the water and the wind in the trees.

For some reason, there was a problem when I tried to upload this picture. I also have not been able to add any tags. I may switch to TypePad for my blogging platform.

CEO's don't blog but should

Good business has to do with building relationships. What better way to build a relationship with your stakeholders than to blog? In yesterday's New York Times, an article about blogging notes that among CEOs of Fortune 500 companies only one is a blogger. A frequently sited reason for blogging is lack of time. That is short-sighted as the benefits can be great. In addition to being an effective communication tool, a corporate blog helps establish trust and credibility.

For those who want to get started, there is a lot of help. In addition to a spate of books on blogs, there are a lot of resources online, not to mention consultants to help executives get started.
Debbie Weil, who coaches CEOs on blogging, has a new book coming out this month on corporate blogging. Her #1 tip: Just do it. Debbie is really accessible and knows her stuff. She also encouraged this blogger to start.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Illustrating institutional memory

As some organizations grow they lose track of their own stories. Sometimes remnants of their early successes are housed in dusty storage rooms or reside only in the minds of a few old-timers. That is a shame not least because of the danger of losing institutional memory.

An example of an organization that tells its story well is PATH. The other day I got a tour of its Seattle office, where staff members have made an effort to represent the story of the organization visually. In addition to displays of awards and high-profile media coverage, there are display cases of technologies the organization has developed and a large installation made up of images that reflect different aspects of the company’s international development work.

These displays help the visitor understand the complexity behind applying technology to public health issues and instill in the employees sense of how what they are working on fits into the larger institutional picture of the organization.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Setting the record straight

The NYT reports today that the FDA approved a new “three-in-one” pill for those with HIV/AIDS. With such good news and the large amount of funding this country has given to the cause, the U.S. public will have a difficult time understanding why organizations fighting HIV/AIDS may still have an ax to grind. That is when messaging becomes critical.

A united message about HIV/AIDS

Does a rising tide lift all ships? When competitors come together, can they form a united front? As the international AIDS conference approaches, can organizations intent on addressing this issue band together to deliver a strong clear message to the media?

Two years ago I helped to organize a series of workshops, for communicators in the field of international development, which focused on media strategies. It seemed to me at the time we were all facing similar challenges and that there would be some benefit to working together. Admirably, the Global Health Council has taken on this task as a service to its members and as a way to improve the health of people in developing countries.

At a meeting today, communicators discussed the overarching message their respective organizations wanted to get out to the media. Working together proved productive as each person contributed ideas and the group identified major messages and further refined them. Whether or not the messages are finalized through a formal process and perhaps adopted by the larger global health community is yet to be determined. It is important for NGOs to see the advantages of working together. To achieve their goals, donors should also take note of the organizations that leverage resources.