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Sunday, May 8, 2011

Savor the Blue: Employees Owning a Corporate Message

IBM’s China office has a corporate culture that centers around three ideas: innovation, dedication and trust. To disseminate this information to employees, IBM hired the public relations firm Ogilvy.

Instead of creating a list of tactics to “ preach” to the employees, Ogilvy enlisted the help of the employees themselves to disseminate these ideas. They collected stories from 40 employees and compiled them into a book called Savor the Blue that IBM distributed to employees.

The stories, which were translated into both mandarin Chinese and English, embodied IBM’s ideas of innovation, dedication and trust. Savor the Blue was a wild success, with more than 12,000 distributed to both employees and interested customers. Eventually, the Chinese media got a hold of the story and covered it extensively.

So why was Savor the Blue such a success? In my opinion, it is because the employees themselves own the message. If it was the executives trying to talk down to the employees, the employees might look at this as just another corporate message. But since these stories were told by fellow colleagues, the message was more authentic.

More information: Page 17 of the Asia Pacific Public Relations rewards report, Ogilvy's case study.

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