I began my career in public relations and learned the fine art of “packaging” content. My friends still tease me about my ability to take negative information and turn it into a tidy, if not murky, message. “I hit your car” turns into “While the circumstances of our meeting are less than ideal, I’m so glad we had the opportunity to share our contact information.”
I got out of PR as quickly as I could, but I still recognize BS (business-speak) when I hear it. Unfortunately, most companies still use business-speak on their websites, in presentations, and even during one-on-one discussions with students. It’s the number one reason why candidates look outside an organization to find out what’s really going on inside of it.
Recently a new radio station was launched in the Dallas area. It was named the best radio station in the city and when I tuned in, found that the reception was a little dicey. I turn it on occasionally and when I tuned in yesterday, I heard the announcer say, “KHYI – if you can’t hear us, then move!” No apologies, no BS – just the truth, but in a humorous way.
A few years ago, I worked with a company that was in the middle of fall recruiting when their CEO announced that the company was being bought. Recruiters wanted to know if they should discuss the merger and how to respond to student questions. The answer was simple. Yes. Bring it up to students, professors, career services and all of your campus contacts because I can assure you that your competitors will be using it to their advantage. Be honest. Avoid using packaged responses. Tell them what you know and admit what you don’t. Showing a canned video from the CEO about the merger won’t cut it. The best way to deliver difficult information is in person.
Keep in mind that you still need to give students a compelling reason to join your organization. Part of that involves giving them the language they need to explain why they accepted an offer with an organization in transition to their parents and friends. You’ll also need to be prepared to answer the following questions:
- What will change and what will stay the same?
- Will there be a shakeup of leadership?
- Why did the organization decide to merge?
- What’s the upside of joining the organization now?
- If I join the organization, is there a chance I’ll be laid off after the merger?
- Will you be able to keep your job?
- Is there a chance that my position, reporting structure or responsibilities will change after the merger?
- Will my benefits package, compensation and training/development be impacted (negatively or positively)?
Feel free to use humor or to speak candidly about why you’re staying with the organization. But, whatever you do, leave the BS out of it.