What about the media?
Will you have to deal with the media? Probably.
Is it important how you deal with the media?
You better believe it!
Here’s an example of why it’s important how
you deal with the media. Two organizations in
the same city downsized within three weeks of
each other. The first organization, with several
thousand employees, downsized by only ten
managers—not a big number. But it made
the newspaper’s front page below the fold the
morning after the downsizing took place. And
two days later, there was another major article
on the front page of the business section.
The articles reported all the details of the
downsizing and described the organization’s
problems, how the people were told (in a group
meeting), and that no assistance was provided
to the terminated employees. The articles also
reported how difficult it was to get information
from the organization’s leaders. Those leaders
mistakenly did not make themselves available
until after the first article appeared.
Morale dropped. Turnover increased. Customer
service suffered. And an organization lost its
reputation as a great place to work.
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Across town two weeks later, a smaller, but
very visible, organization also downsized.
Twenty percent of their 130 employees were
let go. One entire award-winning department
was eliminated. That’s a significant downsizing.
The leaders planned well. A press release had
been prepared, and when a reporter from the
local newspaper called that afternoon, the
Executive VP took the call. He answered every
question that was asked. He talked about the
job transition service that was being provided
and offered to put the reporter in contact with
the career management specialists.
The press release was then faxed to the news-
paper first (since they called first) and then to
all the other media sources in the city. Nothing
was said about it on the evening news. Finally,
two weeks later, there was a brief article on the
third page of the newspaper’s business section.
TV and radio never mentioned it.
What made the difference? Planning, availability,
and readiness and willingness to talk directly
with the media.
You have to be prepared to deal with the media.
With so many people affected in a downsizing,
either directly or indirectly, you can count on
someone contacting the media and asking,
“Do you know what’s going on at XYZ Corp?”
Reporters will take it from there.
The Manager’s Pocket Guide to Downsizing with Confidence
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