On Thursday, Feb. 25, Hachette Filipacchi Media chief Alain Lemarchand sent an email to his several hundred staffers, informing them of an imminent new companywide social media network designed to better facilitate communication among cubicles.
“The goal of this online community, which functions like Facebook,” read the memo, “is to bring us closer together and establish new relationships.”
HFM U.S. is a far-flung company, both physically (its parent company, Lagardere, is headquartered in France) and intellectually—brands range from fashion and design (Elle) to homemaking (Woman’s Day) to automotive (Car and Driver). If everything goes according to plan, these diverse employees will soon be sharing status updates, links to amusing articles and SFW photos!
For the time being, participation in the as-yet-unnamed network (Filipacchi and Friends? Hachetter?), which is still in beta, appears to be voluntary—and grudging. “The idiocy is mind-blowing,” one staff member wrote to us via email. “As if we need more distractions during our workday. Good lord.”
Why not simply use an existing social media platform like, say, Facebook?
A spokesperson for the company declined to comment. But building one’s own network of interoffice amis will give HFM a larger degree of control over its content and design than the company would have on somebody else’s platform. And if it doesn’t work out, c’est la vie! “Failure is a key component of reinvention and a rich resource for learning,” read one email to staffers about the initiative. “We will view failure not as a loss but rather as another way to move forward, a very useful and at times necessary process to future successes.”
HFM’s foray into internecine social media coincides with a broader reorganization at the company. As The Observer reported back in December, HFM is on the verge of trading its current office space at 1633 Broadway for cozier quarters at the Time-Life tower at 1271 Avenue of the Americas. Office relocation can be disruptive. Social networks can be reassuring. Perhaps the investment in digital collegiality will help ease the transition. “Because of the current state of our industry,” read the email announcement to staffers, “the greatest risk would be not to take risks.”
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