I was surprised to hear a commercial for Sprint from Paul, the “can you hear me now?” former spokesperson for Verizon. Apparently he has switched his allegiance and is now touting cell service for his previous competitor.

Paul, an actor, is nevertheless a powerful spokesperson for Sprint. He had established himself as an iconic figure and his “can you hear me now?” became pervasive in pop culture and went way beyond his ads. So when he says: “there is only a 1% difference in coverage, can you hear that?” it has more credibility than if anyone else was saying it.

I wonder what evolved (de-volved?) in Paul’s relationship with Verizon that not only caused him to leave, but to actively promote their rival. I have written before that organizations would be wise to consider how they treat former employees as well as how they pay attention to current ones. Apparently Verizon didn’t get my memo!

For those who are enlightened, how you say goodbye to staff and the communication you have with them afterward can go a long way in your public relations efforts. Current employees are your organization’s ambassadors, and former staff can be too, if treated with respect and good will in the transition process. Departures may not always be the employee’s choice, but the employer always has an option of how to treat people during the separation.

Think about Paul the next time you are saying farewell to an employee. After all the money spent in branding him with Verizon, it seems like a bad connection that allowed him to wind up hawking phone plans for Sprint. Take the high road to keep from dropping the call with your former staff.

beth triplett

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