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One of the things that strikes you about Internal Communications is just how universal the challenges are! At the recent Poppulo annual customer summit, which this year was held in Chicago, it was really interesting to see so many ‘concern clusters’ emerge, and even better to see how some of our customers are really using some innovative approaches to address them.
We had presentations from a lot of great organizations, such as HealthSouth, GlaxoSmithKlein (GSK), Bloomberg, First Data, CGI, Charter Communications and Sealed Air. Active audience participation was positively encouraged, and being quite a chatty group, excellent commentary came in the form of floor questions, tweets and event app submissions from, amongst others, Takeda, Nestlé Purina, FirstGroup, McDonald’s.
I found it extraordinarily valuable to learn from our keynote speakers how the C-Suite really sees Employee Communications as being critical to building their internal brand, and Lesley Everett was so forthcoming with guidance on how to really design that conversation for success.
David Grossman shared some spectacular insight from his very influential CEO Client base, with specific data to underpin the correlation between leadership and employee engagement. You can access some of David’s research here. The ever-charismatic Rob Biesenbach showed us how to make your communications pop by delivering powerful messages.
The emergent properties of a crowd never fail to be fascinating, and the solid themes that showed up, our ‘concern clusters’ again, really reinforced within the Poppulo team how accurate our own research has been, and well it has informed our product vision.
From a growth perspective, I think it’s fair to say that our big challenge is executing on that vision and not being sidetracked. Integration, Data Accuracy, availability and privacy are all real technology challenges, but, the focus has to remain the same, to create thriving workplace cultures and to radically change how companies engage with their people.
So, if the problem clusters are the same ones we already know about, (Value, Specificity, Measurement and Goal Orientation ), is it bad that, as an industry, we haven’t sorted them out yet? I’d have to say no, because we have made a lot of progress, and brilliant examples of that progress in each area was generously shared by our community.
Metrics, Metrics and Metrics. I don’t think there was a single presentation that didn’t refer to the necessity and power of measurement in some way. Glen Turpin of First Data called it out as a way of mapping out a transformation strategy, but said “Data leads to questions at least as often as it leads to answers”.
Sometimes, getting an answer to those questions is of enormous value. Think about being able to identify why particular messages are being completely ignored by sections of your work population. Take, for example, a diversity campaign. Does disinterest point to a level of complacency, is non-engagement a result of a technology issue, or do you genuinely have a problem area within your enterprise where the corporate commitment to diversity and inclusion just isn’t seen as important?
Adopting a campaign focus. One of the aspects of our platform of which we are most proud is its requirement to run SMART Campaigns, yes, that’s specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-ound, because for a campaign to be effective, it needs to be all of those things!
Stephanie Dorn of CGI showed us a wonderful campaign example, “The CGI Leader Playbook”. It was explicit in what it was there to achieve, clear as to what the objectives were, and had a perfectly identified timeline. If your communications aren’t following a campaign focus, you may be just communicating for communication’s sake. You are relying on random curiosity to trigger interest, or total boredom. Either way, your communication is attracting exactly the WRONG audience, and it’s time you got on the campaign bus!
Target your audience, don’t trash them. With Poppulo, you can target a piece of news to a specific audience and you can automatically address a newsletter to highly specific groups. One of the best examples we’ve ever seen was displayed by Lindsay Jones and Alyssa Hagan of HealthSouth. They have developed ‘employee personas’ to cover key groups within their employee population, and messages are crafted explicitly using a content strategy to address clear organizational goals, such as employee retention. This helped drive a 4% shift in opinion quarter over quarter as part of the HealthSouth Diversity Campaign. A significant shift in the opinions of some of the busiest and most attention-poor workers out there, front line healthcare employees. Result.
Get yourself on the hook for results, not awareness. Ethan McCarty of Bloomberg drove this home with some powerful examples of business results to which his team are committed across Sales, Engineering, Security, Productivity, Human Resources and Recruiting. He showed how their multi-channel approach included offline communication events such as leaders ‘ask me anything’ sessions, town hall meetings, digital signage, online two minute videos and even employees own social networks. With respect to data, he extolled us to ‘go to the beach in the trunks you’re in’, meaning get it done, and worry about the details later! An incredibly pertinent message to an industry in a massive transition from ‘accuracy oriented analog’ to ‘do it now digital’.
Overall, Wow! These sessions showed us just how critical employee communications is becoming in advanced enterprises, how they are investing to drive results and the massive expertise that is being deployed in the complex transition from outputs to outcomes.