Keeping Internal Communications … Internal

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Internal communications should be kept internal. This seems obvious, but so often when internal documents leak out they look silly — or worse — when taken out of their proper context.

Valleywag recently posted on an internal AOL slide presentation for a new service the online company launched.

Ever wonder precisely why big companies such as AOL are so painfully sluggish? Here’s an insight. AOL recently launched an enhanced search service which, alongside search results from Google, showed capsule reviews, videos and other content from AOL itself. Straightforward enough. Splice in the different databases, slap a name on the product, pray. Not for AOL. The company engaged a top-tier naming agency, evaluated 120 different options, tested the finalists with focus groups in Denver and Chicago, checked on the meaning in 16 languages — and the brand strategy group explained its process in a laughably belabored 20-slide presentation. After all that preparation, they forgot to remove the Powerpoint file from the website.

The post, of course, went on to show some of the slides.

Is this a catastrophe for AOL? No, not at all. Is it a bit embarrassing? Sure is. Could it have been much worse if the presentation had been about something sensitive? Absolutely.

The lesson is this: Keep internal communications internal. And since this is not always possible to guarantee, if the subject is really sensitive just skip the slides and do a verbal presentation. Once something is electronic, it can make the rounds … fast.

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