Headlines’ social media expertise in national limelight

Headlines' social media expertise hits the nationals

September 23, 2013

Headlines Managing Director Peter Doherty featured in the Sunday Telegraph highlighting the challenges that business face with social media.

The article – which appeared in the business section of the broadsheet on September 22 – considers how social tools can boost employee engagement.

See the article below…. or click here to see the print version

The commercial benefits of an engaged workforce are beyond dispute – but is your boardroom ready to embrace the challenge?

Social media is testing the tolerance of corporate culture like nothing before.

Engagement requires trust – which is best built through internal communication that is honest, transparent and two-way.

This is a mantra for Britain’s growing legion of internal comms professionals. Any company that doesn’t profess to believe in open and honest dialogue with its employees is surely stuck in the dark ages.

And yet to many, rolling out the ultimate enabler – social media – presents a bit of a problem. What if they ask awkward questions? Will they be sensible? What if they criticise us? Will people waste time on it, making it counter-productive?

Surely we’re opening the gateway to anarchy…

My agency, Headlines, supports internal communication in a host of blue chip companies and currently everyone is asking us about the role of social media in employee engagement.

Peter Doherty
Peter Doherty

Few corporate cultures have the inherent confidence to take the leap of faith required to implement it. But our message is this: Try it, you’ll like it.

Your people won’t let you down and it will make your organisation a happier, healthier, more successful place.

And anyway, the tide is already turning – and you don’t want to end up like King Canute.

Just a couple of years ago we saw the first ripples. One of our clients broke cover by allowing un-moderated commenting on its intranet – a bold move away from the controlled moderation approach that had emerged.

With very few, early exceptions, the conversations that resulted were rational and constructive.

Given the opportunity to express themselves in public, employees demonstrated they cared about their workplace, wanted to help it succeed and were delighted to be trusted to share their ideas and opinions.

It was their community – and nobody wanted to be seen as wrecking it.

Two years later, social media is beginning to shape the way we communicate in the workplace.

Yammer is widely known as Facebook for business and has almost eight million users worldwide.

It is the tool of choice and unmitigated free speech ¬– with a brief code about courtesy and respect – is the order of the day.

One business felt so passionate about the value of open discussion it recently encouraged an online debate around pay negotiations, even planting awkward questions to prompt no-holds-barred debate.


The benefits go well beyond sharing ideas and feedback online.

Many companies report that launching social media has had a significant impact on engagement levels.

In demonstrating trust, they have helped people to feel valued and respected – that their ideas, opinions and efforts actually matter.

At its core, social media gives users a voice. By carrying this into the workplace, this approach gives communication a whole new dimension.

Which goes to show that social media is not an online portal to corporate mayhem. Instead it reflects confident management – so often the secret to an engaged workforce.