Bulletin board as canary in a coal mine?

despairObligatory rules and regs and a so-called motivational poster in a company break area make me think of something Despair.Inc. lampoons. The other stuff that's posted (or not) can signal an alarm about the health of the internal brand.

You may think your internal brand is just fine. But how do you really know? If you're a rapidly growing organization, you may not have slowed down lately to consider this question. But you must, because it's so closely linked to most other performance measures.

Ask "The Fixer"
My friend Terry Harbert is known in professional circles as The Fixer because he knows how to go into an organization, spot the source of problems and—well—fix them. Terry says one of his diagnosis tools is to go straight to the organization's bulletin board and observe.

He looks to see if it's merely full of DOs and DON'Ts, penalties and procedures. If so, there are probably some Dilbert-like forces at work. Those forces of darkness are putting the skids on innovation, love of the brand and great performance.

Is the board locked up under glass?
I hope not. That means that the leadership is speaking, but not listening. And it reeks of distrust.MB PIland bulletin boardA closeup of MB Piland's bulletin board

Does it have personality and purpose?
If the bulletin area has some life and personality to it, that's a good sign. I asked Terry what he thinks should be on a healthy organization's board.

His hit list:

  • Mission statement—and "not something stuffy, but something people really get and like"
  • Employee recognition
  • A place for employees to list things they care about, like fundraisers or even "for sale" items
  • Training opportunities

That got me to thinking about our bulletin board. Some other things we like to post:

  • Articles or smart ads we've torn from magazines
  • Clips from great PR mentions
  • Photos of our staff at celebrations or doing community service
  • Congratulatory notes we've received from clients and friends
  • Cartoons
  • Company events calendar

Of course bulletin boards can be virtual as well as old-school. We think having both is smart. Pinterest is an easy, fun way to create a virtual bulletin board that everyone can enjoy.

Pinterest even allows private boards, you can keep this information for insiders only.Screen Shot 2013-03-28 at 9.27.44 AMSee our Pinterest page for more.

If you're recruiting, a virtual bulletin board can be powerful
High-growth companies who are recruiting great talent can give their prospects a view of their internal culture with a public board. Encouraging employees to post to the corporate page will allow their love of the brand and purpose to shine. You can't fake that—how exciting!

Take the time to diagnose
Obviously the bulletin board isn't the one magic pill to feed your internal brand. But it certainly can act like the proverbial canary if you take the time to listen for the song.

Assess your bulletin board. Is your canary dead? For a second opinion, take our Health Check here.

      MB Piland Advertising + Marketing: Culture Quiz
      MB Piland Advertising + Marketing: Health Check