House journal or inhouse journal or e-journal in its electronic avatar is an important tool for internal communication. As the name suggests it is primarily aimed at employees and their family members. But many organizations send these journals to external stakeholders also like customers, suppliers, opinion leaders, ex-employees etc.
In its print version, house journal can be a tricky affair what with deadlines and timelines. Then CEO would like his photos to be there splattered all around, but will tell you to be conservative in using his photo. Take your pick. Then you need to take care of typos, name spellings, designations and so on.
Two instances from my experience which come to my mind while working on a house journal. In one case, the independence day celebrations news in our company was carried out on the first page of the journal. The layout had come very beautiful and we were very happy with the output. But our happiness was short-lived. Just a few days after the magazine came out, our department received a copy of a legal notice sent to CEO office. We came to know that our union had written a complaint to the President and all other dignitaries that CEO and PR department had disrespected the national flag. What had happened was that in printing the tricolour had become a bit faded and the union alleged that we had intentionally defaced the flag photograph. Now any layman could read between the lines. But be as it may, we had to bear with the paperwork for six months till the case was finally rejected. From that day onwards I am doubly careful whenever I use tricolour in the magazine. Either I don’t use the flag pic at all, or we use the three colours, and not the flag. Once bitten, twice shy.
Second instance was when I was associated with most urgent designing and printing of one issue of our house journal. There was a visit of some dignitary to our company and CEO decided that the house journal had to be preponed and brought out to coincide with his visit. I had to rush to Kolkata and sit with advertising agency designers for days to design the 8-page journal. There was a news item of reshuffling at ED level in our company. There were 4 EDs and their portfolios had been changed. I thoroughly checked the final ready-for-print, gave the go-ahead for printing and came back from Kolkata. After 3 days the printed copies were brought by the rider from Kokata. We were pleased that we could manage the issue well in time. After a few hours our HOD called me and showed me a blunder in the printed copy and asked me to cross-check how it happened. Actually the names of EDs had been interchanged and the photos were not matching. I recalled that there was a change in sequence of photos at very last minute. But I also remembered that I had checked it on the screen and given okay on right names. In the meanwhile I got to know that my boss and other colleagues were enjoying my predicament and were commenting that now my oversmartness will be amply rewarded, read punished. Even my HOD was not willing to listen to me. I aniways find it shocking that most of the seniors tend to believe the outsiders more rather than their own team members. Well, HOD called the agency in my presence and asked them how it happened. I could read in HOD’s tone and manner that he wanted to put the whole blame on my shoulders. Lucky for me, the agency guy was a gentleman and a thorough professional. He told my boss that I had given okay on the right version but agency guy had saved an older version so the mistake. I still salute the honesty of that Bong guy from the agency. He was not very smart, dynamic, outgoing, but he was a man of integrity, a rarity in these days. And if I remember correctly the agency was M/s. Select Advertising. From that day onwards I have made it a practice for myself and my team that we always take a final print out of the version on which we have given the final go-ahead, so that this type of confusion does not arise in the future.