The Gatehouse Blog: Dec 2013

Spreading the word at the NSPCC

Head of Internal Communications Liane Pannell explains how her team used storytelling techniques to create a sense of common purpose and enable the human voice at the NSPCC. The NSPCC is a UK-based charity whose purpose is to help vulnerable children. When I joined the team about a year ago, we were reviewing our brand. […]

I'll Have the Lobster, Please

200 years ago eating a lobster was like eating a rat. Lobster was something you’d feed to servants (the ones you didn’t particularly like.) Eating lobster was such a ‘cruel and unusual’ punishment that even prisoners weren’t allowed to be fed lobster more than twice a week. Only 20 years ago, working in internal communications […]

Steve Jobs: "Who is the most powerful person in the world?"

Steve Jobs strolls into the employee break room and starts making himself a bagel. The staff chew their lunch warily. Then, out of the blue Jobs addresses the room: “Who is the most powerful person in the world?” A few names are nervously put forward. One employee suggests Nelson Mandela. “NO! You are ALL wrong” […]

The magic of measurement

In 1955 managers at the Hawthorne power station in Illinois made a discovery: turning up the lights made workers more productive. But soon, somebody noticed a weird detail. Productivity also improved when they dimmed the lights. In fact, making any change at all seemed to increase productivity. What they discovered was this: it wasn’t the […]

Women can't write?

A woman I know left a difficult relationship and brought up her two daughters alone. To make ends meet she became a freelance writer, working from her kitchen table. At first she struggled. Her clients were rude. They disrespected her, picked apart her work and paid her next to nothing. She would get jibes about […]

The locksmith effect

You’re lied to every time you book a flight. When the loading screen on your favourite travel site tells you that its busy looking for flights, it’s often already found them – it’s just keeping you waiting. Why? Display your results too quickly, and you’ll think it didn’t look properly. They call this the ‘locksmith […]

Smells like success

Have you ever tried a durian fruit? It smells like either baby sick or raw sewage, depending on who you ask. The smell is so offensive that in Thailand it’s banned from government buildings. There are YouTube videos of people cutting into a durian and throwing up. Nonetheless, it’s considered a delicacy – revered across […]

Any Old Map

By Lee Smith Once upon a time, a group of soldiers became lost in the Alps. They were hungry and disoriented. They argued about which way to go, but in the fading light every peak looked the same. The soldiers knew they had no chance of surviving the night in the freezing temperatures and panic […]

3 Feet from Gold

Benny Binion, boss of ‘Binion’s Horseshoe’ in Las Vegas, was touring his casino one day when he spotted a group of employees huddled around a slot machine. He went over and found the staff combing through fabric swatches, trying to find a new material to cover the slot machine’s stools. They asked Binion for his […]

Fight or Freeze? Internal Comms Wisdom from a Lion Tamer

Clyde Beatty was the word’s first celebrity lion tamer. He climbed into cages filled with lions, tigers, cougars and hyenas, delighting crowds in the 1930s. As he danced left and right, the audience presumed his whip and pistol kept the beasts at bay. In fact, it was his chair. Beatty discovered that when you thrust a […]