Trylon Communications  - January 2004
       

Memo Me - and the Media!

Internal communications are finding their way into the public domain more frequently than ever. With email becoming ubiquitous and instant messaging the norm, executives are frequently leaving their flanks uncovered – and offering sensitive issues for public consumption.

The problem partly stems from today’s fast pace. Messages that were once conveyed in person are now expedited electronically. These messages are then easily forwarded to friends, family…and the media.

In many instances, revelations produced by internal memos can contradict public policies. For example, an employee who was benignly freed to pursue career goals may have been pushed out of the company – and have the emails and memos to prove it. Or perhaps a new service or product was scrapped because it was a miserable failure, but the public stance was that it was “ahead of its time.”

This evidence of corporate misrepresentation can do serious harm to media relations. The next time a story is pitched, the journalist may wonder, “What’s the real story here?” Losing credibility because of leaked memos can create serious public relation repercussions.

In today’s information age, it is best to assume that any internal communication will eventually see the light of public day. Executives who realize this can better protect themselves and their companies by analyzing their choice of communication channels before committing memos to writing. Some things are just better said face to face.