If you're looking for emotional appeal in a layoff announcement, Ev Williams' post on Medium about Medium is a good example. He uses plenty of emotional language and balances the bad news with optimism for the company going forward. He's also forthcoming about past failures.
Ralph Lauren CEO Leaves the Company (February 2017)
In a clear, honest press release, Ralph Lauren announces the departure of a CEO. Stefan Larsson was hired from Old Navy, but he and the company company founder couldn't agree on a way to boost revenue and stave off declining sales. The statement is a refreshing change from other announcements that give no reason or invent reasons for a CEO departure, for example, "to pursue other interests."
Ten Thousand Villages Announces Store Closings (January 2017)
Non-profit fair trade organization Ten Thousand Villages sent an email to announce store closings and downsizing at the corporate office. The message covers the basics, but the main point is in the second paragraph, and I wonder how enthusiastic people will feel about the organization's future.
Nestlé Recalls Drumsticks (October 2016)
This is a typical recall notice—one of many each year.
The Secretary of Education Tells Students About ITT Closing (September 2016)
Data Breach Affects Hotel Properties (August 2016)
I have distributed several security breach emails and asked students to compare them. They notice subtle differences based on the situation and company culture.
Carrier Announces Layoffs (February 2016)
A painful, but important video showing Carrier executives telling employees their jobs are moving to Mexico. The situation became politicized when President Trump negotiated with the company to save some of the jobs, although the number is in question.
Layoff memo and email examples:
- Intel, 2006
- MySpace, 2009
- Starbucks, 2009, with annotations (indirect organizational plan)
- Time Inc., 2007 (shows cascading communication)
- Yahoo, 2008 (also see PPT slides sent to managers, download)
- Yahoo, 2010 (this time with capital letters!)
- Yahoo, 2012 (yet another)
- AOL, 2011
- LA Times, 2011
- Yahoo, 2012
- RealNetworks, 2012 (posted to Facebook)
- Microsoft, 2014
- Microsoft, 2015
Emails to customers about email security breach. Download 14 versions of this communication. Useful to show different companies' approaches to the same message (e.g., formatting, differences in tone, to what extent each is customized to the audience, level of detail, whether "Epsilon" is mentioned and how the company is described, etc.). I have asked students to work in small groups to compare three examples that I assign.
Fresh Direct explains service delivery failures following a snow storm.
Charles Trywhitt (British retailer) apologizes for a late order.
Three responses to an employee suggestion (written by students). Useful to discuss tone.
Lacoste responds to false coupon code issue.
Best Buy press release announcing CEO resignation.
Asiana Press Releases about the July 2013 crash.
Groupon CEO's farewell email to employees.
Yahoo's controversial email calling remote employees to the office.
Malaysia Airlines' statement about missing flight.
Emails about Heartbleed virus, 2014
Sears explains store closings, 2014.
More company responses to data breaches, 2015.
Opening scene from the movie Up in the Air (download). Useful to demonstrate the challenges of communicating bad news (layoffs). Beware of obscene language.
Another scene from Up in the Air: Ryan Bingham discusses his philosophy of communicating layoffs (download).
Geico commercial demonstrating a deceptive buffer.
Videos from the "United Breaks Guitars" incident, United Airlines' refusal to pay for a broken guitar and the disgruntled passenger's response:
- Overview of an HBS case
- Dave Carroll's first song
- Dave Carroll's second song
- Dave Carroll's statement
- Dave Carroll's website
News conference about Ebola in NYC, 2014.
Virgin Galactic news conference about the SpaceShip Two crash, 2014.
New McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbook admits performance issues, and the stock loses ground, 2015.
A French investigator discusses the Germanwings flight crash in a news conference, 2015.
AirAsia CEO apologizes to families of lost flight, 2015.
Blue Bell Creameries CEO announces layoff decision after recall, 2015.