The Chicago Way: What machine politics can teach you about creating a great social intranet

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What You’ll Learn:: 

James Ylisela Jr. likes to say, “Find the drama.”

People reply, “But we’re an insurance company.”

No excuse, says Ylisela. “You’re a collection of people,” he says. “And whenever you have a collection of people, there will be drama.”

You need to find the colorful people who will tell the stories. This and other advice from the Chicago political and cultural scene make this a memorable lesson on internal comms.

Drawing on his experiences as an award-winning investigative reporter and a high-demand communications consultant, Jim shows you how Chicago-style politics can help you:

  • Get the clout you need to overcome barriers and work effectively with IT
  • Promote non-communicators who contribute content
  • Find some "Grabowskis": Tell great stories about those closest to the work
  • Stuff the ballot box to promote new features that engage employees
  • Build a patronage system to keep the content flowing

There’s a Chicago term: Double-dippers. The guy who left one city job, has a pension, then lands a second city job.

That’s not so good in a municipality—but it’s a great metaphor for something that will boost your communications. Find non-communicators who are willing to double up as content providers for you.

Find out how to get some clout, because you can’t go it alone. Learn why intranets make for strange bedfellows, so you should forge an alliance with IT. (No, really.)

Learn what it means to “call dibs” on your home page—and what that has to do with shoveling snow in the Chicago winter.

Discover the importance of finding “Grabowskis.” Learn to tell good stories. Find real people saying real things.

Vote early and often, and use all of your channels to promote participation. Our hold on our audience is tenuous. With your newfound clout, you can try more creative communications.

Hey, Chicago isn’t just a city. It’s a way of getting things done—or else. So listen: You can do it the hard way, or the easy way.

Make it easy. Subscribe to Ragan Training.

March 2014

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Presenter bio: 

James Ylisela

James Ylisela Jr. is president and co-owner of Duff Media Partners Inc. Jim's 30 years in journalism, teaching and training help organizations communicate better with constituents, employees, consumers and the media.