I just read a terrific profile of Procter & Gamble on Cincinnati.com (which, by the way, is a great example of how to create an online cornucopia of interesting information—quizzes, photo galleries, timelines, etc.).

P&G is celebrating its 175th anniversary, which is pretty amazing, especially when you consider that, out of 50 firms named to the first Fortune list in 1955, only 10 are still in existence.

P&G’s longevity is due to many factors, of course. Great communication is certainly one of them. Here are lessons we can learn from P&G we can apply to reaching and engaging our employee audiences, with some questions for you to think about:

  • Know your customers, but don’t stop there—make it your mission to delight them. Consumers have a deep personal relationship with P&G brands, in large part because P&G works hard to design products that meet customers’ needs. How well do you understand what employees want from communication—and how successful are you at meeting those needs?
  • Innovate relentlessly. P&G seeks to achieve “discontinuous innovation,” creating brands or categories that don’t exist until P&G invents them. Think Pampers or Swiffer or Febreze. By doing so, P&G drives demand and avoids having to compete against generics and other price-driven products. Is your communication innovative? Are you anticipating future communication trends and practices?
  • Do more with less. Although P&G has not been known for its efficiency, in recent years P&G has worked hard to improve productivity. Cutting costs is certainly one motivation, but the other is actually more intriguing: P&G understands that it needs to reduce bureaucracy. As one analyst puts it: “(Bureaucracy) takes longer for decisions to be made for new products to get to market, and that’s when you run the risk of competitors moving faster than you do.” Are your processes productive? Are you nimble enough to move quickly?

Hope these thoughts inspire you. And to my friends in the U.S., Happy Thanksgiving!

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