When internal corporate missives leak out to the light of day, the results can be embarrassing in more ways than one. Yahoo is the latest case study. On the heels of the much-panned redesign of Yahoo Mail, an internal email from two Yahoo VPs divulged that not even employees care to use the company’s flagship product.
The leaked message asks employees – not for the first time – to ditch Microsoft Outlook, the workhorse of corporate email, in favor of Yahoo Mail for their business accounts. To date, just 25 percent have and to win over the holdouts, the authors turned to humor.
The writers joke, cajole, entreat: “Using corp mail from the Y Mail web interface is remarkably feature rich,” goes the note. “Feeling that little tingle? Take a deep breath, you can do this. We want you on board, sailor!”
Creative, yes. But effective? How many 600-word emails from corporate do you read – that is, before they leak to the outside?
THE PR VERDICT: “D” (PR Problematic) for Yahoo Mail’s product VPs, for an object lesson in why internal communication sometimes doesn’t stay that way.
THE PR TAKEAWAY: When communicating write for the front page. Your carefully crafted internal memo could land there, to opposite effect. This one in particular begged to be leaked. The writers wanted to be clever, appeal to the average Yahooan’s irreverence and sense of fun. Perhaps they did. But they also exposed, and potentially worsened, what appears to be the company’s disillusioned corporate culture. Content of the message aside, email, to paraphrase Churchill, is the worst form of communication, except for all the other forms of communication that have been tried from time to time. Use it sparingly and keep it brief. Chances are it will outlive you.