Last week my husband was interviewed for his company magazine. A member of the in-house communications team carried out the interview and brought along a photographer to capture the action. Everything went successfully and was completed in record time. Next step, team photo. The group were naturally delighted that everything had gone smoothly, in good spirits most of all engaged with their task. So animated in fact, that they were requested to “look a little more serious”. In summary the photographer took the corporate ‘catalogue man’ type of shot.
The interesting part of this story from a corporate communications perspective is that according to the Edelman Trust Barometer, trust in authority is shifting and there is a focus to portray an ‘authentic voice’ rather than a corporate voice. How we choose to illustrate that also needs to be authentic. If the purpose of the staff magazine/ezine is staff engagement surely an authentic picture of staff laughing and smiling would portray engagement more than a serious shot? For a video news clip, how rich would it be to see the project unfold and then end with the team shaking hands or patting each other on the back. If staff engagement and authenticity is the goal then surely staff, genuinely celebrating success is a gift.
Serious messages do require a picture that matches the tone, however, an animated photograph has a part to play. So you have to ask, why didn’t it pan out that way? Is it that in-house staff more so than agency staff become ‘institutionalised? Or, are both trained/over-trained to follow a pre-scripted corporate style? Just because we may have written ‘capture the moment’ in the photography brief does not mean the photographer is going to deviate from producing the expected corporate shot .
The danger is that corporate communications can be so focussed on achieving an authentic voice that matching this with an authentic image is overlooked, staff become blinkered by corporate style guides. Whether you’re on the producing or receiving end of a corporate publication I’d love to hear how authentic you believe it is.