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Change Management at Unilever | Melcrum Digital Summit 2013

Denise CoxDenise Cox·

I listened in to Neil Atkinson, Director, Global Corporate Digital Channels, for Unilever, speaking at the recent Melcrum Digital Communication Summit in London. His session, ‘Connecting employees to the heart of Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan’ provided fantastic insight into a behavioral change management strategy to put sustainability in the spotlight across the entire organization – the way employees work, the value chain and even the way consumers use Unilever brands.

Here are a few points that I took away from this very informative session …

  1. Align internal/external – A significant part of an IC strategy in today’s digital world should be aligning internal communications with external. Unilever did this by creating integrated campaigns that targeted both internal and external stakeholders to share the progress the business was making, generate solutions and invite interested parties to help shape Unilever’s plans.  One tactic used was to create a 24-hour ‘web jam’ forum with a variety of live events, discussion and online participation that was open to both external and internal participants.
  2. Focus on content first, channel second  – Focus first on the content – what content is needed for the messaging? How does it need to be localized or segmented to the audiences that will be receiving it? THEN look at what is the right channel to communicate the message. When generating content, Neil noted the ‘three Ps’ that interest employees: People (what are others doing?), Product (for example, here, how are they sustainable)? and Participation (how can I participate?).
  3. Create a user journey overview: Layout your change management communication plan to visualize the entire user journey across all the channels you will be using to communicate so you can ensure consistent messaging is going out. Ensure local teams get the help they need to minimise the effort to implement the content. This can include supplying localized by language.
  4. Employee generated content is powerful – User-generated content is VERY engaging.  Especially in the form of storytelling, which we as humans respond to and helps us understand the message. Unilever opened up two-way channels to give employees many ways to tell their stories. Everyone was invited to submit ‘sustainability heroes’ in their workplace, participate in local events – and post their photos from the day. Plus, existing channels were ‘socialized’ – such as adding forum chat into Sharepoint.

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