Corporate Communication Gone Wrong: The Office

This week in class we will be discussing Corporate Communication in television and movies.  NBC’s show The Office, starring Steve Carell, is a prime example of Corporate Communication gone wrong.  Each episode humorously depicts stereotypes of life in the office while giving countless examples of incorrectly used communication tactics.

A specific example of this is during the Product Recall episode, when an obscene watermark is printed on papers for a local high school.  One important aspect of Corporate Communication is a company’s ability to manage relationships with stakeholders.  They do this through building and maintaining strong, differentiated corporate reputations.  These reputations are created and established when organizations are able to communicate a consistent vision and image to their stakeholders.  In the Product Recall episode, the employees of Dunder Mifflin exemplified very poor crisis management skills.  For example, certain employees are coached on how to answer phone calls from upset customers and instead of effectively addressing the problem, they were told that if they “got bored they should try using fake names and accents”, making a joke of the entire situation.

Another example was when in preparation for the arrival of the press the employees found it most important to hand select the most attractive people to put in the front, focusing all their attention on physical appearance rather than position or knowledge of the subject.  In addition to these two examples, in this episode The Office also completely showed disregard to the importance of stakeholders and their effect on the company.  Specifically, the client who was given the paper with the obscene watermark, one of the Dunder Mifflin’s most important customers, met with Regional Manager, Michael Scott, to discuss the situation.  Instead of showing sincere remorse for the outcome of the paper, Michael verbalized that “she was pretty unimportant”, more than likely losing her future business with no cares.

While this is only one example of ways The Office teaches us how NOT to implement Corporate Communication, every episode holds many examples.  Effectively dealing with crisis in an appropriate way and communicating a consistent and clear image and reputation to publics is vital to the success of any company.  If every corporation had a Regional Manager like Michael Scott Corporate Communication would have an entirely different definition.

-Arielle, Haley, Lora, Danielle

6 thoughts on “Corporate Communication Gone Wrong: The Office

  1. While The Office is by far one of my favorite TV shows and extremely funny. It is constantly showing what not to do in the workplace. It provides ample examples of inappropriate behavior at work. The examples above are both really good ways to show corporate communication gone wrong.

  2. Hey guys, being a fan of the show myself I think its great to think about this show in a academic perspective. However, I found myself having trouble reading because I kept thinking of other humorous scenes where Michael’s awful communication strategies backfired. As you mentioned every episode of this show has many example of communication gone wrong, but I never thought to apply it to myself as a communication studies major.
    While I was reading one scene from the show distracted me because it was probably the only time I can remember where Michael communicated effectively. I don’t know if you know this one but, its when Jan and Michael meet at Chili’s to convince a client. Michael is under strict instructions from Jan to not talk business or run his mouth so he ends up just hanging out and being himself. He tells jokes, tries to befriend the client without speaking of any terms and at the right time brings up what his company can offer. So as communication studies students who enjoy the show I guess there is one episode where we should try and be like Mike.

  3. Michael Scott makes this show completely unethical, in the sense that every business situation that he is involved with is handled in such an unprofessional way. This show really does demonstrate the wrong way to handle business through the outlets of corporate communication. The Office brings up so many scenarios that come with corporate communication but convey them in a completely back to front way, which in turn is hysterical.

  4. I absolutely love the show The Office because, in demonstrating exactly what not to do in a professional workplace, it becomes a learning tool. I remember watching one episode where they had a Christmas party and, literally, everything that could go wrong, DID! Michael had a tantrum when he didn’t get the gift in the Yankee Swap, Dwight begins selling toys at ridiculous prices from the office, even Jim’s sentimental gift for Pam is given to the wrong person. Then, when the vodka shots are introduced, the entire office party becomes a drunken train wreck. This all occurred in just one episode! In another episode, Michael lies in order to sell his product. He gives his product, which happens to be paper, a story. He tells his consumer that he is a small family business and he needs them to buy his product. The company feels bad for this family businessman and buys his product almost immediately. We see that giving a product a story really does help it sell, although I think that only Michael could give paper such an interesting story.

  5. i am also a huge fan of the show as i am sure that many people are. The author is right on by basically saying to not handle any communication situation like it is handled in the Office. Although some scenarios are “taken care of ” either in a humorous way or in a good way, they are not done in a professional or corporate way. The show indeed is very funny and i feel that it might depict some real corporate communication situations that happen at “sub-par” businesses or offices.

  6. I think this is a perfect example of corporate communication gone wrong; The Office is an extremely popular show that can act as a catalyst in discussions regarding effective and efficient communication techniques. Much like Twitchell discusses in Branded Nation, “story telling is the core of culture”. Rather than advertise directly that The Office is a perfect how-not-to guide to corporate communication, it entices the audience to get lost in the story each episode, and allows the audience (many unaware of the journey the show is taking them on) to laugh and reflect back on Michael Scott’s delusions in the communication world.

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