Friday, March 7, 2008

Goodyear Makes Case for Transparency, Wins PR Week 2008 Campaign Award

Negotiations made public and Goodyear lands award.

Among the winners of the 2008 PR Campaign Awards announced by PR Week yesterday was Goodyear, in the category Crisis or Issues Management, for its handling of communications around their 2006 labour negotiations and resolution of a strike called by the United Steel Workers. In previous negotiations, management had agreed to a news blackout thereby allowing a small group of union officials to control the flow of information about negotiations to employees. This time around, Goodyear set up a fact based communications network focused on a website accessible to employees, the media, and the general public - - and backed by regular interaction with plant community media.

The strategy was that of forced transparency. This is a great approach when the strategy driver believes that they have realistic and sensible positions on an in issue and either, other parties to a negotiation/issue are strong on influence and weak on substance, or the decision maker has an agenda it would prefer to be hidden. Critical to such a strategy is that the driver remain factual and credible in all its communications and avoid the temptation to turn such communications into advocacy pieces for its positions. The point is to let the facts speak for themselves and to diminish the ability of other players to manipulate or hide those facts.

USW hardly remained silent. They too spoke out on their excellent website and to the media. However, it appears that they were unable to adjust to Goodyear's change in approach and continued to communicate using confrontational language from yesteryear that may have masked the legitimacy of their negotiating positions even to their own members.

The Bloated Plutocrat is bemused. “Negotiations? Transparency? Communications campaigns? What a lot of rubbish. ‘Get back to work or I’ll call in the Pinkerton's is the only communication required in dealing with these Bolshevik labour types.”

The Bleeding Heart is torn. “While one cannot argue with transparency, it seems that the aim of Goodyear’s efforts was to exert undue pressure on union leadership hampering their abilities to negotiate in a robust manner.”

Meanwhile, Your Genteel Moderator believes that the PR Week judges got it right. Well done to Goodyear for a relatively inexpensive and minimalist approach. It looks like the company believed its offer reasonable and appropriate, stuck to the facts, and dragged the issues into the light. USW and Goodyear reached an agreement in December 2006.

No comments: