PR & Lattes

A latte with Mel Loy

February 29, 2024 Matisse Hamel-Nelis Season 3 Episode 1
A latte with Mel Loy
PR & Lattes
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PR & Lattes
A latte with Mel Loy
Feb 29, 2024 Season 3 Episode 1
Matisse Hamel-Nelis

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In this episode, Matisse chats with Australian communications expert Mel Loy about all things internal communications and change management.

About Mel Loy
Mel Loy is the founder and owner of Hey Mel! Communication & Training, a small agency with big energy based in Brisbane, Australia.

After more than 20 years in in-house corporate communications roles, Mel ventured out on her own to start her own business and hasn’t looked back.

Her business grew quickly, and Mel and her team have earned a reputation as specialists in internal, change, and crisis communication, supporting organizations of all shapes and sizes to navigate tricky times while building engagement and protecting reputations. Her team uses their unique EPIC Change Communication Framework to help guide businesses in managing change while building their capability along the way.

Connect with Mel

Let's connect PR & Lattes:
Website: PR & Lattes
Instagram: @PRAndLattes
Host: @MatisseNelis

Show Notes Transcript

Send us a Text Message.

In this episode, Matisse chats with Australian communications expert Mel Loy about all things internal communications and change management.

About Mel Loy
Mel Loy is the founder and owner of Hey Mel! Communication & Training, a small agency with big energy based in Brisbane, Australia.

After more than 20 years in in-house corporate communications roles, Mel ventured out on her own to start her own business and hasn’t looked back.

Her business grew quickly, and Mel and her team have earned a reputation as specialists in internal, change, and crisis communication, supporting organizations of all shapes and sizes to navigate tricky times while building engagement and protecting reputations. Her team uses their unique EPIC Change Communication Framework to help guide businesses in managing change while building their capability along the way.

Connect with Mel

Let's connect PR & Lattes:
Website: PR & Lattes
Instagram: @PRAndLattes
Host: @MatisseNelis

Matisse Hamel-Nelis  00:02

Hello and welcome back for Season 3 of PR & Lattes, the podcast where you can fill up your cup on everything PR and communications. I'm your host Matisse Hamel-Nelis. And I am so thrilled to have you join me today for a brand-new episode. Before we get started, make sure you subscribe to this podcast wherever you're listening to it to get notified each week during the season when a new episode drops. You can also subscribe to our newsletter by visiting our website PRAndLattes.com. On the website, you'll find our podcast episodes plus our amazing blogs with new ones being uploaded every Monday morning. And of course, make sure you're following us on social media on Instagram at @PRAndLattes and on LinkedIn PR & Lattes. So let's dive into it. On today's episode, I'm chatting with Mel Loy, founder and owner of Hey Mel! Communications and Training, a small agency with big energy based out of Brisbane, Australia. After more than 20 years and in-house corporate communications roles, Mel ventured out on her own to start her own business and hasn't looked back. Her business grew quickly, and Mel and her team have earned a reputation as specialists in internal change and crisis communication, supporting organizations of all shapes and sizes to navigate tricky times. While building engagement and protecting reputations. Her team uses their unique epic change communication framework to help guide businesses and managing change while building their capability along the way. I am thrilled to have her on today's episode to talk about change management and internal communications. So, grab your latte, sit back and enjoy. I am beyond excited for today's show. I have Melanie Loy with me. But before we dive into the good stuff with Mel, I have to ask you, Melanie, can you tell us a little bit about your PR journey? 

 

Mel Loy  01:49

Yeah, for sure. So, I originally studied journalism. So that was my background, I wanted to be a journalist and travel the world and realize pretty quickly that doesn't necessarily happen for everybody. I was more than likely going to have to cut my teeth on the small newspaper in the outback somewhere. So, and there weren't a lot of jobs. To be honest, there weren't there aren't a lot of jobs in journalism, and there's even fewer jobs now. So, I ended up sort of gravitating more towards the comms side of things I left Australia went and moved to London, in my last sort of six months of uni, and got a job just writing for a little media company for sort of TV show magazines and things which is which was fun, and also worked for a cancer hospital over there in their PR area. So that was kind of how I got more into the PR and comms side of things, and eventually moved back to Australia. And since then, I've worked in police media. So that's a lot of reactive comms, but also a lot of proactive in terms of sort of the recruitment piece. But also, there's a lot of big initiatives that come out of a big department like Winston place. I've worked in construction, mining, childcare, I wasn't in the childcare centers, that would be a bad idea. I was in the head office in the corporate affairs area. And yeah, over and after that retail financial services, and over that time, those sort of 20 years, I really gravitated more towards the crisis, internal and change communication piece. So, it just kind of was a natural progression. As I found things I found interesting, I would sort of dive into them, put my hand up for projects and just keep learning. And yeah, it got to that point where I eventually Oh, puppy dog. So I got to a point where I left my corporate job started my own business and have really focused on the strategic comms piece insofar as I've real big focus on strategic internal comms change communication, and crisis comms, but also a bit of advocacy work for some nonprofit clients very much around getting their messages out there, engaging stakeholders, those sorts of things. So yeah, it's been If you'd said to me 20 years ago, you'll end up doing change communication, I would have said, What the hell is that? What do you mean is that I don't know what that is. So yeah, it's been, as I said, very much an organic journey, nothing that's been planned. But I just chase the dopamine, see where we go.

 

Matisse Hamel-Nelis  04:26

Love it, love everything about it. And I love how you said that. If you ever asked you 20 years ago, what change management was or that you would be doing change management or change communications? Like what the heck is that? I still think to this day, a lot of people don't know what that is. How would you describe it? 

 

Mel Loy  04:41

So, I describe change communication, it is quite different to internal comms, they aren't the same thing. So, change communication is very much focused on people. It's focused on how people respond to change how they react in those situations. And you really have to tailor to a person's probably have a reaction. And you have to make really compelling cases for why people should change the way they think feel or do about something, sometimes all three. So, it is very much that changing hearts and minds piece. And there's a big role for leadership communication in that internal comms equally has a very important role. Neither of them are as important as the other. But internal comms I find is much more around, there's a big piece around managing channels for one that's huge strategic content that aligns the organization's strategy and purpose and those sorts of things. And there's a big piece often around campaigns as well, internal campaigns and internal brand for CEOs and the C suite. So again, quite distinct disciplines, both really important, but not the same. And so, I think we really need to make that distinction.

 

Matisse Hamel-Nelis  05:48

I think that's so important, because I do think a lot of people think, “Oh, it's just part of internal comms,” but it is, it is its own specialty. And you need there's its own skill set around it as well, if you will, that it's not just, you know, I'll just mix it all in together, and it will be fine. Because you won't be.

 

Mel Loy  06:08

No. It's like saying an internal comms person will know how to do PR. No, yeah. So, they are very distinct disciplines. But that's what I kind of love about the comms profession. And it's very, it's evolved so much in such a short amount of time. Well, at least in Australia, it used to be most people got into comms after being extra. And pretty much you know, now there's communication, actual communication degrees and programs. And you can specialize in government relations in investor relations in CSR work, internal external change, as we've said, so, that's what I kind of love about this profession. It will continue to evolve. And we're, we're becoming much more, I guess, professionalized as you specialize. 

 

Matisse Hamel-Nelis  06:51

Oh, I love that professionalized as we specialize, that should be the tagline, right? So in a world, or, you know, really day to day life, information is critical, particularly when we're talking internal with our organizations and our brands. How do you ensure that internal communications are clear, concise, and well received by all the different organizational departments and not just sort of speaking to the comms or to the C suite levels, if you will?

 

Mel Loy  07:16

I think as with all communication, we start with who we don't start with why your business strategy starts with why, but communication starts with who? So, you need to understand your audiences. And no, there is no one size fits all approach. And yes, that's a lot more work. But tha t's the point. If you want it to work, you're going to have to put in the work, right? So, it's really about tailoring the messaging, the channels, all those pieces around your audience, what they need, how they're likely to respond to their context. They're gonna there's a lot that goes into tailoring a message there is, you know, I've got my communication personality style quiz, which you might have done, actually Matisse. 

 

Matisse Hamel-Nelis  07:56

Yeah, I love it. Yeah, it's just a fun thing. 

 

Mel Loy  07:57

But it, you know, that's just part of it is, you know, introversion, extroversion, learning styles and whether you're strategic or detailed thinkers, then there's a whole piece around, well, a person's context and their experiences, you know, have they been involved in something like this before? Or what do they know about your organization, and its strategy, those sorts of things. So that's another piece. And then I think the third bucket is really around the diversity and inclusion piece of tailoring your communication as well. So very much in your world as, as you're a specialist in this the accessibility piece of tailoring your communication, but also ensuring that using language that resonates with people from very diverse backgrounds, so yeah, yes, it's a lot of work. But when you're able to tailor it to you're able to get a better result, and then it really is about fine tuning those messages to make sure yes, they are concise, they are clear. And looking at it from your audience's perspective. Like if I read that message, would I have an idea of what's going on? Or is it just a lot of fluff, basically? Yeah. So really finding that happy medium of positioning, without going too far down the cold, hard facts of the spectrum? And not too hard down the other end, which is just all corporate BS? Let's be honest.

 

Matisse Hamel-Nelis  09:15

Accurate, true. Yeah. When it comes to technology, I know, for example, in some of the organizations I've worked with, they'll say, “OK, let's just put it on Yammer.” And that's our internal comms strategy. And they rely solely on this piece of technology or platform to kind of do what they want to do. Although, again, to your point, it hasn't been sort of tailored to each audience target that we have. So how do you think technology has played a role in the evolution of internal communications? And do you think perhaps we rely too much on it? 

 

Mel Loy  09:51

Yeah,I think particularly the last few years as we've become a much more hybrid workforce. It absolutely has skyrocketed in terms of Our use of it, you know, even things like Zoom, Yammer, Slack teams, all those channels have become we've become much more reliant on them simply because we're not all in the same place anymore. Yeah. So that's one part of it, I think is the growth. I think the other part of it is technology does have a place in reaching people who are hard to reach. So people who are on the road a lot people who are in front of classrooms have children or they are not sitting in front of a computer like those sorts of flight attendants, people who are up in the sky half the time, there is a peaceful place for technology in terms of being able to reach those people more effectively. Do I think we've become over reliant on it? In some cases? Yes, I think there are people who have defaulted to it rather than, you know, strapping on their boots and actually going out and physically visiting people and in their workplaces in their contexts. And there is nothing like face-to-face interaction in terms of building a trusted relationship. And those trusted relationships, particularly with leaders will help your internal comms resonate more. So, I think that we do have to take a little bit of a step back to some of those more, I guess, old fashioned in inverted commas, tools and techniques. But as I said, there is absolutely a place for it. It's about finding the right mix as well. And as I said earlier, where's your audience at if they're not on Yammer? Don't use Yammer. If they're on WhatsApp, use WhatsApp, I like that you go to where they are. Because if you unless you are consolidating a bunch of channels, or your organization has absolutely nothing to begin with. If you create a new channel, the change effort to get people over there and using it when they're already comfortable using something else is huge. So yeah, shocking something on Yammer, when nobody's there, or the people that you want to reach out there, or nobody's using it is not going to be helpful. But think about how use Yammer as part of a mix of channels, for example. I always say repackage for at least three different channels, because if they miss the email, they might see it on Yammer. If they miss you. They might hear it in the team meeting. 

 

Matisse Hamel-Nelis  12:11

No, that's a fantastic point. And I think what I'm finding, or at least, particularly since the pandemic, people seem to just think that the platform is a strategy without actually having a strategy for the tool. And that's what the platforms are right. So we're there not really thinking about the audience to your point. And instead, it's well, because we're all online, we're just going to say everybody's there. But really, what if they're not? Where's your audience at? Like you've pointed out. 

 

Mel Loy  12:39

You’re just shouting into the abyss.

 

Matisse Hamel-Nelis  12:43

Exactly, exactly. And then have you built a culture out of that when nobody knows what's happening?

 

Mel Loy  12:46

Exactly. Good question. Yeah.

 

Matisse Hamel-Nelis  12:48

So, switching gears a little bit going to change management strategies. Can you share any insights on how to align those change management strategies, to overall business goals that also relate to internal communication strategies?

 

Mel Loy  13:03

Yeah, sure. I'll try and do that as succinctly as possible. Pressure, yeah, no pressure. So, when it comes to change management, there are five really key parts of change management. One is leadership. One is communication. So, communication is not a silver bullet. It's part of a mix. There's things like policies and procedures. So that sort of HR piece, there's stakeholder engagement, which is different to communication, and there's sort of the governance piece around change as well. So, there's quite a bit that goes into it. When we think about how we align that to business goals, well, that all comes back to the why. So why are we changing something in the first place? And this is where leadership and communication really step in is around that compelling case for why. And we need those to be really clear on that why piece when we are communicating. So from a change and change communication perspective, there's a lot of things you can do to create that compelling case for why in its simplest forms, you need to speak to both head and heart. So head is the logic, that's the practical reasons why we're changing. It's, you know, this particular piece of technology is now redundant, or, you know, what, we're not making enough money. So we're gonna have to change something. So the very practical pieces, the heart is the tougher piece of the messaging. Because that's about people. It's about empathy. It's about showing that you understand where they've come from. But there's also a bit of behavioral psychology in this piece as well around how you actually get people thinking the way you want to think. So it is a mixture of head and heart to create that compelling case for why but again, you need to go back to the change management piece and go, Why are we changing? What's changing? What does that look like for people and but also what's not changing? Because a lot of the time what's not changing can bring people a sense of certainty. and something to anchor to, while everything else is changing as well. I like to think of it like a bit of a graph whereas fear goes, our certainty goes up, fear goes down. So, the more certainty we can give people throughout change, the less fear they will have. And fear breeds poor behavior. So, if we can increase certainty, reduce fear, were on a good track to being able to get that change over the line. That said, that doesn't mean they made like the change anymore. But if they understand it, and there's certainty around it, then they're less likely to have a fear-based response to change.

 

Matisse Hamel-Nelis  15:39

Yeah. Yeah. And I think in a lot of cases, and this sort of ties into my next question around leadership, when there is change, or even just a new strategy being unfolded for external or internal, whatever the case is, leadership tend to forget that those who are not leadership don't necessarily know all the ins and outs and the whys. They're just being told. So you have to communicate it properly, for them to get buy in from others in the organization. And usually, it's just well, what do you mean, there's no buy in? Don't they know everything? We know? Not at all.

 

Mel Loy  16:17

I sent an email, why haven't they changed anything?

 

Matisse Hamel-Nelis  16:21

Exactly. Yeah, yeah. So, with that in mind, how critical is the role of leadership in giving in driving that success for internal communications and managing change? And how do you engage leaders in this process?

 

Mel Loy  16:34

Leadership is, I would say, more critical than communication and change, because it's not just about what they say it's what they do. So, they need to be role modeling the behaviors that you want to see. They also need to be thinking about, Well, where are the roadblocks for my people that I can help remove or help navigate around? What are the things that they're worried about, that I can bring to the leadership table, and help solve for them. So, they actually have a huge part in change, not just to communicate, but then actually making it happen, especially if you are in an area that is impacted by the change, and you lead a team within that area. So, it is very much needs to be a two way conversation between leaders and their people driving down messages, but also bringing them back up to the change management piece and, and helping to solve those issues. I think the biggest thing with leadership is they need to understand that even if they are not the person who is responsible for the change, or driving the change, doesn't matter, you toe the line. You are… The second change is happening. It's impacting your team; you are responsible for the change. So, there is no passing the buck, there's none of there. So, I'm just the messenger don't shoot me. It's actually engaging with your team on this. That's what leadership is it's not. And that's what elevates you from management is, hey, this stuff's changing. We've got to do this thing. Leadership is helping to understand the case for why making the change meaningful for their team and their contexts, because you could have a new organizational strategy. But what does that mean for your team? What does that look like and feel like day to day? So they have a huge role in contextualizing and personalizing change for their team as well. So yes, it does tie in with communication. But there is very much a leadership skill to this that takes time to build. Yeah, it's not a natural thing for most people.

 

Matisse Hamel-Nelis  18:32

Yeah. And that's a, again, another valid point. Great point. This is all great points that you're saying, from a leadership perspective, and owning it and understanding that if it's impacting your team in particular, it impacts you not just like, oh, everything's fine and dandy, and you just continue going about your day as if nothing has changed, when really, there is a larger impact happening, which will in turn affect you if you don't take action?

 

Mel Loy  18:59

100% Yeah, and you're gonna make your own life so much harder.

 

Matisse Hamel-Nelis  19:03

Yeah, exactly. Exactly.

 

Mel Loy  19:06

So, it's a very selfish reason to do it.

 

Matisse Hamel-Nelis  19:11

If anything, at the end of the day, if we learned anything from this podcast, it's a selfish thing to do, the better for you. So how important are analytics and metrics in evaluating the effectiveness of internal communications or change management strategies?

 

Mel Loy  19:28

They are so critical and yet we seem to not do them at the time I think, A. It's kind of we move on quickly to the next thing and the next thing so we're, we're very busy. We're resource poor often in organizations but I think people find it challenging to measure the effectiveness of communication as well because it can be really hard to link OK, well, this comes campaign I did over here absolutely caused this effect to happen. It's really hard to find those links sometimes. So, I think it's about going back to what were your initial outcomes that you wanted to achieve. And I always start with three things, no feel and do. So what were those three no feel and do outcomes you wanted? And how are you going to measure whether you achieved those outcomes? And this is this a cycle of improvement? It's where you go, OK, along the way, we're finding this isn't working. So what do we need to tweak in the comp plan, we go back to the comp plan, and OK, well, this hasn't worked, this channel hasn't worked. This message hasn't resonated for some reason. These people haven't been reached, for some reason, etc. So go back to your outcomes, pulse, check them as you go, not just at the end of the campaign, or the or the project, because you want to be making those continuous improvements to give yourself the best chance of success. And then at the end, you can go OK, well, of the all those things that we learned, what do we take forward? What do we change next time? All those sorts of questions, because it should be about, like any profession, we should be always striving to do better, and be more effective at what we do. And we can't do that. If we don't measure. You can't it's true. If you don't have data and insights, and how do you know what's working and what's not?

 

Matisse Hamel-Nelis  21:17

Yeah, and the pulse checks are so important that usually people think, oh, a pulse check from an internal communication standpoint, that's what a pulse survey instead of an employee engagement survey, and you're like, No, even just a strategy or an initiative that you're creating, do a pulse check, see if it's actually resonating, see if it's actually getting picked up? People are caring about it. Or is it just something that's being looked at as, Oh, it's another email or it's another townhall about whatever? And they're just tuning out? Because then you're not being effective? Right?

 

Mel Loy  21:44

Exactly. And I think the other point here is, and you've touched on this is about focus on the outcomes, not the output. So, I think so for example, yes. OK. 300 people read that intranet article. So, what did anything change? Did they think differently about it? You know, or as to your point, did they just go out and other email, whatever I'm tuning out. So, you actually have to think about outcomes, not output. And while output can be useful, because you go, OK, well, more people are opening emails, and they are reading internet articles, or people are more likely to read an intranet article on a Tuesday morning. And so that time it, that's great for sort of, I guess, the hygiene factors of communication. But if you really are looking to make a change, then you need to focus on outcome and go back to those outcomes. Yeah. And how can

 

Matisse Hamel-Nelis  22:33

I guess, professional communicators who are maybe just starting out in terms of internal communications or changing communications, when they're deciphering what is an outcome versus what is an output? I know a lot of folks get those confused. How do you differentiate in your own world in your own terms? 

 

Mel Loy  22:52

For me, it's more output is quantifiable to a degree. So as I said, it's things like read rates on emails or social media engagement stats, it's, you know, we met our KPI of putting out three media releases this month. Great. So you've ticked off ticks and boxes, and you've delivered stuff. So that's delivery, whereas the outcome is, OK, well, what did people do as a result of those three media releases? Did didn't involve? Did it result in more sales or more leads? Did people by reading that each article going to that town hall actually then start to think differently? Or do their engagement scores go up? Those sorts of things? So it is about more of the reaction to the output? If in some way? Yeah.

 

Matisse Hamel-Nelis  23:37

Yeah, I would define it as the output is quantifiable, and it's qualitative versus it being quantitative with the outcome where you can't really put a number two it are qualitative, sorry, you can't really put a number to it. But you can see that there's a change either a cultural shift or buying into a strategy or an initiative or that sort of thing. So yeah, no, no, I loved how you said it. Way better than how I said it. And it was butchering words. There we go. It was for a living went Gray, it's OK. It's fine. We're human to relatable. In your experience, how does effective internal communications contribute to employee engagement and satisfaction? And what are some best practices that you would recommend to enhance it? 

 

Mel Loy  24:35

Yeah, there's a couple of ways it really contributes to engagement. Number one is helping people see a line of sight between what they do every day, and the organization's purpose or strategy. So, we know from international research that the more people can see a connection between what they do every day and the organization's strategy and purpose. The more engaged they are, the more productive they are, because there's a why behind what they're doing. Every day. So that's one thing that internal comms does quite and can be quite powerful around is helping people see, hey, you know, what you do matters, essentially. And this is how it's contributing to this bigger picture. The other piece is, of course recognition. So, recognition of people's achievements, efforts, even if things have failed to say, hey, we tried and we failed. And we failed spectacularly here where we've learned from this. So having that big recognition piece as part of your internal comms as well, is a really great way to drive engagement. And then the third piece is connection. So, we can help through internal comms people build connection with each other. And that is really, really powerful, especially in this hybrid world. Now, as I said earlier, we're not seeing each other in the office everyday like we're used to. So being able to help people build connection between their teammates or between other teams and leave em with leaders as well. That's hugely powerful for internal comms, because it helps again, drives that sense of morale, that sense of purpose, but also helps build a culture along the way. And those three things really are very powerful outcomes of effective internal communication. But again, it comes back to how do you tailor that message for people? How do you make it meaningful for them? And how do you meet them where they're at as well? Yeah. And it's less about the company's perspective on things and about the audience's perspective. So when you are writing these messages and thinking about how you're going to create messaging that actually resonates, think about it from the audience's perspective, not from the company's perspective. And so, for example, if you were talking about an employee wellbeing program, if I was writing about that, from the perspective of the company, I would say something like, you know, we know that well-being is really important to our employees, and helps to boost engagement. That's the company's perspective, it means nothing to the audience. Whereas the audience perspective, you might say something along the lines of we know that well-being is important to us, which is why in we are, we're providing these particular programs that you've asked for, and we want your feedback on them as well. So, the difference is that it's about them not about you and the benefit for the organization. Yeah.

 

Matisse Hamel-Nelis  27:23

Yeah. And I love the idea that also you're adding a feedback channel in there. So, it's not just saying, We're dictating what you need. Instead, you're telling us this is what you want? Are we doing it right? Getting you what you need. And I think people forget that point.

 

Mel Loy  27:40

Absolutely. And co-creation. And this goes back to change comms really, to Cocreation is a really powerful way to change people's minds, it's called the IKEA effect is from a behavioral science perspective. So, the idea is that people value more things that they have helped create, or that they have created themselves. So if you enable people to be co-creators in some of these changes, or campaigns, and whatever that looks like, they are likely to value it more and be more engaged in it as well. So that's why that's one little trick, get the cocreation juice is the IKEA effect. For some reason, our brains are wired to value the things that we make, or that we help create.

 

Matisse Hamel-Nelis  28:20

Which makes sense because you've put in your time and effort and your energy. There's a part of you into that. And so I think that's what helps with the bind cuz you think I was part of that. That was absolutely…

 

Mel Loy  28:31

That was my head, that little slice. Yeah, and my when you are sorry, go for it. 

 

Matisse Hamel-Nelis  28:36

Oh, I was just gonna say my husband makes fun of me all the time. When I was in high school, I was part of a youth council through this town that I live in. And we helped with the library designed for the youth area. And literally my idea was, why don't we put some cushions on the ground because you know, kids and youth like to hang out on the floor, all comfy and like beanbag chairs or something to that effect. So now to this day, he's like you helped build it Brick by Brick every time cushions. To this day, I still have this attachment to this building, that I did not build brick by brick. I just said cushions, but I still have it resonates with me. And I still think like I was a part of that in some way, shape or form.

 

Mel Loy  29:22

100%. Yeah. And you know, if you think about something like a new strategy, if as a team you can work together to go OK, well, what does this mean for us? What are we going to change or do differently? And you co create that sense of purpose? And for yourselves. The buy into that is so much more powerful than being told by the mothership. This is your plan. Off you go.

 

Matisse Hamel-Nelis  29:42

Yeah, exactly. So there's something to be said about doing an audit of when things don't go well, but also when they do go, Well, why was that successful? How can we replicate that moving forward when we're doing something similar to that effect, right? Yeah. How can PR professionals cultivate, organizational resilience through proactive internal communications and even crisis management, in your opinion.

 

Mel Loy  30:06

Yeah, so particularly through crisis, or crisis response, or crisis communication, that's a really big opportunity for leaders to step up and demonstrate that they have the situation under control, even if it is completely out of control. But this is where I've sort of got three tiers of crisis communication principles, which I also use for my principles for change communication. And that is timeliness, transparency, and thoughtfulness. So, when you've got those three things, then you get trust. So, if it's timely communication, so it's not too late in the day, it's too late, you've already this ship has already sailed. If it's thoughtful, in terms of its empathetic, it talks to people's again, hearts and minds about what they're experiencing. And if it's transparent, you know, transparent with it with borders, but transparent in terms of being open and honest and authentic, if you've got those three things, and that really helps pave the way for more trust. And when you've got trust, then you've got resilience because people go, OK, I trust that leadership's got this, I trust that my organization is going to look after me, I trust that this change is the right thing for my organization, I feel listened to because they're thoughtful messages, I feel well informed because it's transparent, and it's timely. So that helps me build a sense of, of resilience. That said, we are in an era now where it's not just business as usual, it's changed as usual. Change is happening every single day. It's no longer a case of we're going through this big change project, and then everything sits still for a while. There's lots of good old days. Yeah, that's nice. We are moving at pace. And there's multiple changes going on at any one time in many companies. So we have to really look after people. And that goes for our external stakeholders as well, they are, they are experiencing this in their own worlds, let alone organizations that we work for layering on ever more change in their worlds as well. So, we really have to build this deep centered, deep sense of trust in our brands and our organizations to help people feel safe in these situations. And as I said earlier, more certainty, equals less fear that goes for internal and external audiences. So, from a PR perspective, how can you build certainty in the longevity of a brand or in the quality of what you're producing in your products and services, or in the customer service people are going to receive, that builds trust, and that helps people have that really sense of unsafe, and I can weather this storm with you.

 

Matisse Hamel-Nelis  32:49

And I think that open line of communication and not sort of fearing what the perception may be from your internal colleagues and your staff. Because if you don't communicate, it builds the fear. It's OK to over communicate, if it means that they're going to feel comfortable and understand and say, OK, we're good. You've got this, we know you've got this handled, versus not communicating enough, and people just saying, so what's happening? I heard this, or I heard a whisper or rumbling or rumor, and then you still don't address what's happening. And you let the rumors be, be the actual, quote unquote, truth, right? Because what is it perception is 100% of somebody's reality, and if that's what they're perceiving to be true, then you have an even bigger uphill battle to climb when it comes to getting your actual message across and building that resilience and building that safety. 

 

Mel Loy  33:45

100%. You need to lead the story because people remember the first story they hear. And that's the recency bias, as well as the most recent thing that they've heard. That's what they that's what you're more likely to believe. So, you have to be the first person to tell that story or somebody will tell it for you. And especially in the world of social media, and yeah, instant gratification, instant messaging, instant communication, without being the person to tell the story. Somebody will fill that void for you whether it's true or not. And that goes internally as well as externally I've worked in organizations where you know, there's a massive restructure coming, and it was the world's worst kept secret like everybody knew but leaders are saying nothing. So of course, that bread fear and of course that bread poor behavior. And again, it's just one example of get ahead of the story. Be the person who tells it control it.

 

Matisse Hamel-Nelis  34:39

Yeah, if I could, I would be screaming preach and clapping really loud right now to almost everything you've said this entire podcast, because it is so true and it seems so common sense like, but people shy away from common sense in these situations when it comes to internal communications. Change communications or even crisis management because they're fearful of? Well, it can't be that quote unquote easy. Right? It can't be just common sense that I tell people what's going to make sure they're OK with it. That doesn't seem right. When instead No Tell, do tell, you know, take charge of your story be the first to talk about it. So that there isn't that miscommunication. There isn't that skewed story in the rumor mill versus what's actually happening. And you know, taking charge, you need to. It’s your story to tell.

 

Mel Loy  35:30

Tell it and tell it authentically, because people see through the BS, people are not stupid. And I think a lot of the time, certainly my experience has been leaders who have been so risk averse, and so worried about how something will go down that they spin it so much, to the point where people are like, I have no idea what you're talking about. But also, I can, it feels like you're hiding something from me. So, and that's really frustrating. And again, erodes trust when you're not transparent in that situation.

 

Matisse Hamel-Nelis  36:03

With a past client, I once said to them, they were trying to spin something and it wasn't even anything negative. But they were trying to spin it in such a way. I said, OK, now put that in plain language. And they sort of looked at me and they put it in plain language and said, is that your message? Is that what you're trying to get across? And like, Well, no. And I said, well, then it doesn't work. You're not actually conveying the message you want. And they're like, OK, let's take this back. Let's rework. So, I said, you know, if you want to be convoluted and what you're saying, fine, but if I have to convert it to plain language, does it get the message you're looking for across? And if that's a no, then you have to go back to the drawing board? Because then you're losing the message with whoever you're sharing it with.

 

Mel Loy  36:42

Absolutely. And one of the biggest things I say is, keeping it simple is not dumbing it down. Simple is smart. It's just smart. And you're not proving anything by using these big flowery words and academic language and all that sort of stuff. You're not proving anything. You're not being kind to your audience by doing that. It's very self-serving language. So be smart. Keep it simple. 

 

Matisse Hamel-Nelis  37:06

Exactly. Exactly. Again, preach.

 

Mel Loy  37:14

Solving all the world’s problems here today.

 

Matisse Hamel-Nelis  37:16

And after this, everything will be solved. Can you share an instance or an example of where lessons were learned from a big fail from a communication strategy, but it led to significant improvement in success overall?

 

Mel Loy  37:36

Hmm. I think, again, I'll go back to sort of a restructure, because this is where things can go really wrong really quickly. And in this case, they did go really wrong really quickly, because as I said, people were people knew something was going on. It was but leaders were not saying anything they had been told no, no, it's all it's all hush hush. It's all behind the scenes. While I'm sorry, but 15,000 people know about it. So, it's time to say something. So, by the time they actually got around to announcing, in inverted commas, the restructure, people were already leaving the organization, people had gone, well, there's writing on the wall, here's a red flag, I'm out. Because I'd rather I need to find a new job, because they've just sort of assumed or they're going to cut our department or they'll cut they heard that our department was been cut it all that sort of stuff. So, an exodus was already occurring, people were already frustrated that they weren't being told. So even if they'd been offered a position, they were less likely to take it. So, in those situations, again, trust was gone. And people have already made up their minds about what the change meant for them, even if it wasn't right. And so you lose all this amazing talent and depth of organizational knowledge that could have been retained if you've taken people on that journey with you. And it was, honestly, it was just such a mess. And then there was no cohesive narrative across all of it. So, people would say, well, in that department, they're cutting here, but they're not doing that here. Why is that happening over here, but not over there. None of it made sense. And along the way, people saw their friends lose their jobs and those sorts of things as well. So, this is where it pays to just be open and honest from the beginning and go, Look, we're looking at doing a restructure. This is this is the process we're going to go and do. We're going to take you on that journey with us. We don't have the answers right now. But we commit to keeping you up to date as we go. And these are the types of things that we're thinking about. Here's how you can get involved. Here's how if you've got a question, here's where you can come in, have a conversation with us or if you don't feel comfortable doing that. Here's another way that you can share your thoughts and feedback and questions. And really commit into that cycle of communication throughout and take people on the journey because again, they may not be happy with the outcome, they may still lose their job. But at least it's not a surprise, at least it doesn't leave a bad taste in their mouth and pay, there's a chance they might come back at some point because they were they were brought on that journey and trusted along the way.

 

Matisse Hamel-Nelis  40:14

And that just makes me feel as though even if they don't keep their job, like you said. The notion of I was done with respect. Yeah, it was done with empathy, if you will. So should opportunities arise later on when you know, the factors that perhaps lead to the restructure our or fixed or whatever the case is, or there's, you know, another hiring process, they'll have a good taste in their mouth about going back versus I'm going to go on something like Glassdoor or LinkedIn or indeed and just destroy them. Right, and just say they are terrible Google reviews or whatever, wherever people go now to leave their comments about their employer, because people do look at that when they are searching for a new job to see what's the culture, like, what's it like? 

 

Mel Loy  41:07

Yeah, right. And, and to and you bring up a really good point is that, and from a PR perspective, your reputation externally is only as good as it is internally. Yeah, reputation starts from within. So, you want a really solid reputation as an employer, because that then branches out into everything else, and the reputation that you have externally. So, you've got to treat people to, as you say, with respect to news, empathy, treat them like humans, not robots. And because they haven't the conversation, yeah.

 

Matisse Hamel-Nelis  41:38

They’re your biggest brand advocates. At the end of the day, right? You your entire workforce, that's your brand advocate right there. If you piss them off, they'll be the first to advocate against you, publicly, right, very quickly, very, very quickly. So, what are tips or advice that you would give someone who is shifting their role, and wants to focus more on either change management, internal communications, or even crisis management.

 

Mel Loy  42:05

I would absolutely put your hand up for any opportunities that are coming along. And that could be within your organization, or even volunteering, you know, for a nonprofit or something along those lines, it's about finding that practical experience that you can then, you know, be and you won't be doing it all to begin with. And you'll take some time to get good anything like any skill, it takes time to learn and to get good at this stuff. But put your hand up and just ask to be involved in projects, when there is a crisis, just say, Hey, how can I help I want to learn while we do this. So, it really is about getting that practical experience here, there's courses you can do online as well. There's lots of like podcasts like yours, you know, you can learn a lot from podcasts, it doesn't have to cost a lot of money, to be able to learn things and shift gears, read books, go to networking events, and you know, put your hand up as a volunteer for things. Those are the ways that we start to learn and shift our career trajectories. And that's certainly what has worked for me just literally just putting my hand up, offering to be on a project, learning as much as I can, you know, I read a lot of books, I listen to a lot of podcasts, I don't know it all, I'm still learning every day and still carving a different niche every day, it feels like if you want to Yeah, if you want to shift gears have a go. That's literally all it is just have a go. Except that you won't know everything to begin with. But also you do have some transferable skills that will be useful that you can just using a different way as well. So, there's always a basic, you've got a good baseline, use it build on it over time. And then you might find, hey, this is great. And I love it, or, hey, this has actually brought me to another path that I want to try as well. 

 

Matisse Hamel-Nelis  43:52

Exactly. And I think you bring up a such a valid point. We're constantly learning, no matter what, in this profession, things are changing so rapidly. Yes, there's the traditional side of things, but so much evolution has happened and and in some cases, even revolution has happened that we need to constantly be learning and it's not a matter of oh, I'm now a media relations guru. No, you're going to learn tips and tricks and you know, read books and follow different journalists see what works for them. If you're into internal communication, same sort of thing you need to learn and understand what has worked for others in the past what hasn't worked, why it hasn't worked, not just simply, you know, it didn't work. Alright, move on. No, there was probably there was actual reasons behind it that could help you when you're starting out and that sort of thing. And it might be something that you realize is not for you. But at least now you have those skill sets to in case ever there was a situation where they're like, hey, we need you to step in on this, like in this role, you know, temporarily or whatever the case is until we find somebody you at least have those skills under your belt. I always think that even if you specialize or you have a niche and something within PR and communications, it's still very important to read up on or at least keep tabs on other areas of PR and communications, just in case. Just in case.

 

Mel Loy  45:15

And that makes you valuable, right to an employer or your own organization because they go, You know what, well, this person has the skill set and, you know, wants to learn new things. So let's give them a go. Whereas the person who doesn't have that learning mindset isn't creative in terms of they're not thinking, you know, what if what if we tried this, what if we tried this blah, blah, blah, you know, an innovative, who doesn't show that they're interested in learning or trying new things, that person is not going to be the person who is given the opportunities, we want people who want to learn, because they're the people who will keep us moving in a better, stronger direction all the time. And you know, I think about what I knew, and my skill set five years, just five years ago, versus now you know, I'm a better writer, I'm not perfect by any means. But I'm a better writer, I'm a better channels manager, I'm a better change communicator. And all of that is just learning and I will still keep getting better if I keep learning.

 

Matisse Hamel-Nelis  46:16

Yeah, exactly, exactly. It's just keep learning that that's we've chosen a profession. It's we've chosen a profession that is so vast in itself, but there's so many opportunities to learn, like you said, blogs, podcasts, attending conferences, events, networking, you know, informational interviews with people who are doing a job, maybe you're really interested in, in hearing their experience and what they've done, call me in the avenues. So many, so many ways. So, I have one final question before we wrap up. And it wasn't a part of the list of questions I gave you. Mystery. that just came to me. Mystery question that came to me while we were talking. Has there been a story in the news lately that you have felt from either crisis management, change management or internal communications role? They haven't done very well. And on the flip side, one that has done a very good job of navigating those sorts of situations.

 

Mel Loy  47:14

Certainly, in the last year or so, in Australia, in particular, has been cybersecurity issues. So, there's been some big cybersecurity hacks that have happened with big organizations. So, big telecommunication organization Optus, not long after that a big private health insurer, and other financial services organizations, so they just keep coming these big cybersecurity breaches. Optus did not do well, now, they had a few things against them. In terms of when the hack happened. It was kind of a slow news week when Elizabeth had died, and that sort of the news, it kind of talked as much as they could about her dying. And so, they're like, oh, hang on, this is a nice story that we can get our claws into. But also, it was the scale of it. There was the fact that nothing on that scale had really happened before they've been breaches and some pretty bad ones, but nothing of an organization's that size. The other piece. The other issue with the Optus breach was internally they were doing the right thing. So, CEO was on the phone to other CEOs of other telecommunications like their competitors saying, hey, this has just happened through a third party. We need to let you guys know, just in case, blah, blah, blah. Yeah. And eternally, they were doing all the right things and liaising with authorities because it was a ransomware kind of attack. But they were too slow to get the message out externally. So the media got a hold of the story. They that story was leaked been out in the press 20 minutes before I've just put out a media release. So yeah, crisis comms 101. Just be the person who tells the story. So even if you don't know much, say something that golden hour of communication in crisis is so important. Be the initial statement will never say much and people expect that because you don't have a lot of information. And you know, the big thing about crisis comms is people don't care what caused the issue. They care how you respond. So, nobody's talking about the hackers nobody's talking about how you know, they're criminals and, and hacking into businesses. They're talking about how Optus responded. The fallout of that was very slow to communicate with customers. When they did they said we'll keep you up to date and they didn't you know, it was all it was a huge mess and it's still a huge mess. Now it's a case study on what not to do. The flip side of that is the organizations that got hacked after them obviously got the opportunity to learn from officers’ mistakes, so they were a little bit luckier in that video lucky as lucky as you can be in that respect. A while it was a big news story, because it was a bit of a theme, you know, that story's already been done big organization gets hacked by cyber criminals, right? So, they were in a bit of a better position. But they took the lessons from that. And they were the first to tell the story, they were very comprehensively communicating with customers, you know, helping them out in terms of protecting their privacy, or those sorts of things. Because these were big data hacks, people's personal medical information was stolen. So that's really upsetting. And again, the messaging around that was very much that empathy piece, you know, we understand how scary this can be and how upsetting this must be that people have, you know, somebody's stolen your private data. It wasn't, you know, blaming the hackers. It was OK, this is what we're doing. This is how we're going to help you and help solve that. So, two very different organizations. As I said, Optus, they weren't, they didn't have the luxury of being the last cab off the rank. They were the first there was a slow news week and lots of things working against them. But it just goes to show again, control the story be the first to tell the story, even if you don't have all the facts yet. Just get it out there go we know. And that brings a sense of trust that people go OK, they're onto it. They know what's going on. They're controlling the situation. 

 

Matisse Hamel-Nelis  51:18

Yeah, they're figuring it out the letter smell they'll keep us posted. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Yeah. Excellent, excellent examples. On the spot, I know, I apologize. I was sitting here thinking of like, I would love your take on what has been a good and bad crisis management situation. So that's, I should have written it down. There you go. Well, thank you so much for being on the podcast today. Now, before I let you go, this is PR & Lattes. So, I have to ask, what is your favourite go to caffeinated beverage that gets you through the day?

 

Mel Loy  51:53

I am an almond flat white, so flat white on almond milk. And look, I have to say Australians are coffee snobs. We are absolutely coffees and obviously the big coffee culture here. We don't stop. We do not do Starbucks. We do not do Starbucks. Actually, if you want a good example of a PR or something that's failed. Starbucks failed in Australia because they didn't know their audience. So, it's true. It's true. Go look it I love it. So, when I go to North America, I have to say it's hard to find good coffee. I'm not gonna lie. But Canada, found a few good places and an Australian run cafe that did a really good flat white, so I'm just going to go there.

 

Matisse Hamel-Nelis  52:32

Oh, there you go. There you go. Wonderful. I'm gonna have to try this almond flat white because that sounds delicious. So that is next on my list probably at Starbucks. That's the closest, or somewhere else. I'll figure this out. We'll figure it I have like a Tim Hortons and a Starbucks close by. And I need to find something else. Yeah, look,

 

Mel Loy  52:55

I have to say the Tim Hortons Maple Glazed - It is the favourite. Not gonna lie.

 

Matisse Hamel-Nelis  53:01

Treats. Yes, yes. Yes. What's the almond flat white from another barista.

 

Mel Loy  53:09

Barista somewhere. Yeah, yeah, multiple stops.

 

Matisse Hamel-Nelis  53:10

Well, thank you so much, again for being on the podcast. If people want to connect with you and learn more, where can they find you?

 

Mel Loy  53:17

Yeah, I'm pretty easy to find. So, you'll find me on LinkedIn just as Mel Lloyd. You'll find me on Instagram @HeyMel.Comms, and my website is heymelcomms.training. And my podcast is Less Chatter, More Matter. 

 

Matisse Hamel-Nelis  53:32

And follow all of them because Mel gives such incredible advice and information and just in a style that is so unique to her in that its cartoon based in a lot of cases on Instagram, but it's so easy to follow. And you're just like, Oh, I get it. I could have read three chapters. And I wouldn't have gotten it but she does it in such a great succinct way that adjust. You have to follow Mel. So that's my last two cents on that. So again, thank you so much, and we'll chat soon.

 

Mel Loy  54:01

My pleasure. Thanks for having me on the show. 

 

Matisse Hamel-Nelis  54:05

You've been listening to the PR & Lattes podcast. Make sure to subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts so you can get notified each week when a new episode drops. You can also subscribe to our weekly newsletter by visiting our website PRAndLattes.com. On the website, you'll find our podcast episodes as well as amazing blogs with new ones being posted every Monday morning. And of course, make sure to follow us on social on Instagram @PRAndLattes and on LinkedIn. I've been your host Matisse Hamel-Nelis. Thank you so much for listening, and we'll see you next week with a new latte and guest bye for now.