About the Episode

Bloomberg Businessweek recently released an expose on Snapchat and its CEO, Evan Spiegel. The article explores questions of company management and a lack of communication with employees…which poses the question: is total transparency ever not an option today? We welcome Melissa Waggener Zorkin, CEO of WE Communications to the show. She shares her firsthand experience about keeping things real at work.

About Melissa

_1521226688863_CA4112_MWZ___Headshot___white___backgroundTo her clients and colleagues, Melissa Waggener Zorkin is renowned for her belief in purpose, possibility and the power of communications to transform businesses and move people to action. Under Melissa’s direction as CEO, along with co-founder Pam Edstrom, WE Communications has grown to become one of the world’s largest global independent communications firms with a talented work force of more than 800 strong. Developing future agency leaders and motivating/mentoring young people to build a career in communications are among Melissa’s top priorities.

Melissa recently joined the Board of Advisors to the University of Southern California Annenberg Center for Public Relations, along with other corporate and agency leaders from some of the world’s top companies to connect students and academics with the PR industry. For Melissa, it’s always been important that successful businesses use their influence to help make a difference beyond profits, and she is recognized frequently for her efforts. A Mercy Corps board member since 2006, Melissa is particularly interested in helping women entrepreneurs start their own businesses around the world, and she has been recognized for her contributions, particularly in Africa. Melissa also ensures that WE walks its talk in many creative ways, most recently, by creating the Global Pro Bono program, which allows employees to do impactful communications work in different parts of the world, including Ghana and Rwanda. In addition to giving all employees 16 hours off annually in service to their favorite non-profit organizations, WE recently established the Pam Edstrom Scholarship fund, which brings in new talent into the communications industry.

Key Takeaways

  • Leaders must be transparent about what they stand for and why they do what they do.
  • If you are in an organization where the trust is broken, understand where the breech happened, and then build the trust by addressing the discontent.
  • Building trust with your employees is critical.
  • Everyone does better with transparency.
  • Transparency requires not just the leaders to share, but also the employees to learn.
  • Expectation setting is important when it comes to sharing information. What can the team count on you to provide?
  • Justice and fairness have to be at the center of internal communications.
  • Communications is the backbone of leadership.




Lee Caraher, CEO of Double Forte, a national PR & Digital Communications Firm, is on the PR Council’s Board of Directors.

An acclaimed communication strategist, she’s known for her practical solutions to big problems. She founded Double Forte in 2002, after learning the ropes at The Weber Group, MSL/LA, and WeberShandwick, she also served 5 years as VP, Communications & Customer Service at SEGA. She founded Double Forte in 2002 and hasn’t looked back since.

Lee’s the author of two business leadership books, Millennials & Management and The Boomerang Principle. She is also the host of the career advice podcast MillennialMinded.