Ripple Table

Employees are ambassadors of their companies 24/7, whether they want to admit it or not. So when they attend a company-hosted internal event and hear important strategic and tactical information, they have a further responsibility to communicate to their teams in the rest of the organization. What they hear, internalize and interpret, in addition to how it is transmitted to other areas of the company can make or break a campaign or initiative. Therefore, it is vital for companies to consider to whom outside the event this information will be spread, what they are likely to hear and how it will affect future internal conversation.

We call this process “expansive communication” or the ripple effect that occurs when passing company information from an informed source to an uninformed source. It is often an overlooked area of communications but vital when there is a need for clear, concise, consistent and cohesive sharing of content.

Expansive communication can occur between co-workers, across seniority levels, between business units, among vendors and suppliers and in some cases even down to the consumer level. And it can be passed along more than once if the information matters to a number of audiences. That is where inconsistency can occur. The farther away from the source this information is spread, the more likely it is that the information will be miscommunicated, changed or even wrong.

Left to their own devices, some messages, especially controversial ones, can take on a life of their own. The best way to ensure uniformity throughout the communication chain is by involving the company’s training or PR teams if they exist. They should have a clear perspective about how to manage flow of information and help brand teams or C-level officers anticipate and navigate future potholes. If a training or PR department do not exist, at least brainstorm where and how breakdowns in communication could occur and consider how to manage them.

How have you seen the ripple effect either benefit or hurt your company’s communication initiatives?