It’s been a week of PR spin at work, hasn’t it?
A week of optics, of controlling the narrative whether it was the Minister of Heath David Clark’s completely expected resignation, or Team New Zealand trying to spin a scam cock up into a spying saga.
In this post Covid world, I get the feeling people don’t have the same patience they used to. Sometimes, you just got to call it how it is.
Which is why I rather liked the unprofessional and unadvised 3am email sent by a sad and exhausted senior manager from Fullers Ferry who, in a fit of digital courage, suggested staff complaining about why things were not back to normal “go do something else” if they were not keen to get on board with the company’s direction.
We all know you shouldn’t send an email at 3am. We all know writing an email in anger is purely to vent – and is not to be sent. That’s the email you write, delete and replace with a more rational response. Someone gave me some great advice once - if you’re going to write emails while you're all fired up, leave the “to” field blank until you’ve had some time to cool down.
But I was surprised this week how many people I spoke to, including business owners, felt an affinity with its author.
Now I think it’s important to note here that life at Fuller’s Ferry hasn’t been smooth sailing for a while now, but regardless of whether staff complaints were justified, the email reminds us of the stress so many business owners, and managers have been under since March when this country did what it has never done before and shutdown.
Megan Watson from Fullers Ferry is right – as much as we want it to be, life isn’t back to normal. Normal these days means different things to different people. Unemployment, wage cuts, wage subsidies, redundancy. Everyone is under pressure and we often look to those at the top, earning the big bucks to come up with the solutions.
But we’re all just human, right?
The Fullers fury email reminds us of the cumulative effect the last three months has had on people, especially those who have been living life in a heightened, intense, sleepless state as they attempt to finding ways of keeping their staff employed, and businesses afloat.
While a lot of people understood Watson’s frustration and admired her honesty, letting rip and saying what you really mean very rarely leads to feeling better about an issue. Company values, legal options and bullying threats tend to kill the thrill of hitting send.
I’m thinking Grant Dalton meant to hit Reply All when responding to his lawyer’s success at getting an injunction against NZME reporting on a report into the handling of their finances. His response of ‘Nice Lads’ was also sent to NZME. It might have been a mistake, or an amusing shot across the bow?
As I have already said, we’re just human and prone to making errors, and therefore committing email blunders. Surely you’ve felt that sick feeling as you accidentally hit Reply or Reply All and shared an email with the one person you really didn’t want to share that email with?
There have been many publicised incidents from inappropriate attachments, grammatical gaffes, leaks, to accidentally sending out private information, such as in 2015 when the Ministry of Health accidentally sent the private information of more than 24,000 dead people to hundreds of health professionals.
One of my favourite stories, however, is from 2000, when a small typo meant that a 15-year-old girl from Devon in the UK was mistakenly added to a mailing list, after which she was sent top-secret information from war ministries and defence firms around the world.
You might remember this story as it was reported she received secrets about British intelligence, communication problems on British warships and also emails covering New Zealand’s naval defence strategy. The young woman attempted to do the right thing – she was sick of these emails crashing her computer - and contacted the British navy to put an end to the top-secret emails. She was ignored for six months.