The Slow News Flow Of Corporate Life


Large companies need to be careful with their image, but can still show the exciting reality below the surface

Has it ever struck you how boring large companies can be?

While any small town community can fill a newspaper and the news section of a local TV station every day even large corporations are struggling to create content to fill the employee magazine once a quarter.

Most companies have incredibly slow news flows. Getting articles approved from interviewees and articles takes a lot longer than writing the article. And the censorship begets more censorship as the writers water down their articles in anticipation of a tough approval process.

Companies want to control the communications flow and for this reason they prefer the communication lines to be from top to bottom and from headquarters to units around the world.

This makes for a striking difference between the official communications from a company and the real life going on under the surface.

The official messages are serious, safe, controlled, correct and cautious. They are aimed at the stock market, customers, media and other audiences that require precision and flawlessness.

Below the surface there is a different, much more exciting reality.

Working with an oil company this became especially striking to me. The leaders and the best experts were cautious, almost apologetic about the business they were in.

”We’re not the good guys. We are in a dirty industry. Let’s lay low”, was a typical refrain from the leadership and employees of the company.

But in private settings, their eyes were glowing with excitement over working in a truly exciting industry, applying practically every technology known to man to extract oil from several miles below ground or even sea level.

We decided to bridge the gap by producing a computer game about oil extraction below the seabed, Maersk Oil’s ”Quest for Oil” as a way to show the excitement of the oil business. Most people will learn more from playing the game just once than they have ever known about oil production. 

Photo: R. Nial Bradshaw/CC

Steen Reeslev is the managing partner of This Is Touch – a company providing television airtime for corporations in the growth markets of Latin-America, Asia, and Africa. Previously he was senior vice president responsible for Group Relations at A.P. Moller-Maersk. This Is Touch is based on experience from A.P. Moller-Maersk. The company produced a large number of films on all aspects of the business. The high quality of the films gave access to airtime on television in more than 30 markets.