Category Archives: Internal Communications

Strategic Internal Comms interview with HSBC: csuitepodcast show 35 pt3

For the final interview of Show 35 [starting at 30:35] of the csuitepodcast, having seen my next two guests present at both Quadriga’s Internal Comms conference in Berlin and the SMILE London event, I made a trip to the offices of HSBC in Canary Wharf to speak with Jenny Varley, Global Head of Content & Employee Digital Platforms and Dee Gosney, the team’s Senior Editor, about their multi-award winning internal comms video platform, HSBC Now.

HSBC Now was introduced to the organisation in 2012 and, as Jenny explained, is employee led content, or as Jenny called it, a ‘boss free TV project’, that essentially flipped the traditional top down communication model on its head. She said that it is a platform to tell the stories of employees (of which HSBC has over 250,000 across 71 countries), celebrate their achievements, magnify their strengths and cover topics that are important to them with radical honesty, such as mental health, LGBT, how war zones and disaster recovery can impact on employees, living through illness, and celebrating personal achievements inside and outside of work.

Jenny is clearly proud of its success, with some episodes achieving over 80,000 views.

In 2013, to keep it relevant, and responding to demands from employees who wanted to share the content with family and friends or watch the content outside of office hours, HSBC made the decision to make the channel public via YouTube and Twitter. This also worked for HSBC from a cultural perspective as taking time out to watch video during offices hours is not always seen as a good thing, although Jenny said they’ve done a lot to change the culture within the organisation and video is now seen as an important currency for content. At the time of writing this post, the channel has now received almost 2m views on YouTube with 4,100 subscribers, and has over 52,000 followers on Twitter.

Dee talked through the type of content that’s uploaded to the channel, which naturally includes short form videos.  However, the team has also produced a few series and long form documentaries too, but always told from an employee perspective.

Having the right cultural environment in the company is crucial for a project like this to work as far as Jenny is concerned.  She said that you need to ensure it’s not designed by committee or that you do not have a multi-led approval process, because that would introduce a huge barrier in keeping it relevant and consistent and getting the content out in real time.

Initially the content was uploaded fortnightly and then they switched to weekly but now they are experimenting with content length and whether they should have a schedule with an appointment to view, or upload content on an ad-hoc basis driven by story.

Whilst all the stories that have been uploaded since 2012 were about employees, Jenny explained that they had, essentially, been created by professional film crews.  Therefore, to keep the content relevant, and allow the employees to take the filming into their own hands, and therefore have more UGC content on the channel, the team launched a platform to enable this to happen and partnered up with Seenit, who provide a video crowdsourcing mobile app, to achieve it.

Dee explained that firstly, HSBC have branded Seenit’s white label product so that it can be used internally.  Secondly, it’s used purely for crowdsourcing the content, not for distribution, which was a key challenge when they launched the app internally.  Dee said that, being a highly regulated, complex and risk averse organisation, there were obviously quite a few concerns raised about the prospect of launching a ‘selfie’ YouTube channel.  She therefore had to educate people to help them understand that this was a video crowdsourcing tool that would be aiming at an already engaged audience of employees, inviting them to, not only take part in the company’s storytelling, but to become part of the storytelling production process.  Employees film the stories themselves, in their own words and their own way, and then allow the production team to take that content down from an online virtual studio, and incorporate it into their programming, communications campaigns and their other production projects.

Dee confirmed that nothing is live and that her team curates the content that they make visible.  However, they were really encouraged that 99% of the content uploaded to the app was shot outside of the office and outside of office hours too.

Dee said that the app was initially only accessibly to employees via an internal enterprise site because of the concerns that, as a non customer facing app, HSBC wouldn’t want to make it public and then have customers stumble across it and then become disgruntled because they didn’t know what it was and couldn’t use it.  However, this lead to a nine-step download process for employees to access the app and so the decision was eventually made to make the app available on the public app stores.

To finish off the interview, Jenny shared her top tips to any organisation looking to launch a channel and app like HSBC have done, which were:

  1. Manage upwards and persuade people at the top to take a risk with you – Jenny’s team lobbied and achieved their aims by throwing a spotlight on the fact that soon, 75% of the organisation’s workforce will be millennials (and younger) and that if the digital experience inside the organisation remains out of touch with how they communicate and engage with their networks, then employees would find it more difficult to do their jobs and interact with colleagues.
  2. Learning to fail – when you manage a team, people need to feel safe to fail, to try new things and experiment, which is important to an environment that is fuelling innovation and creativity
  3. Keep moving – at no point can you sit back and think you’ve nailed it as the environment and content is constantly changing and so you have to keep checking that you are relevant to the audience

All previous shows of the csuitepodcast series are available on Soundcloud, itunes and TuneIn.  If you subscribe to the show, please can you give it a positive rating and review on itunes in particular as this helps it up the charts!

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Strategic Internal Comms interview with Telefonica: csuitepodcast show 35 pt2


Chatting with Telefonica’s Nicola Green (left) and Sarah Mullins (centre)

For the second interview of Show 35 [starting at 15:45] of the csuitepodcast that I recorded at PR Week’s Strategic Internal Communications event in London, I caught up with Sarah Mullins, Head of Change Communications at Telefonica and Nicola Green, Telefonica’s Director of Communications and Reputation, who was making her second appearance on the show (you can listen to Nicola on Show 11 too).

Sarah and Nicola had just spoken at the conference on the topic of internal / external comms convergence: ‘how can you effectively join up all functions of your organisation’, a great presentation sharing the journey, complete with good and bad experiences, that Nicola’s team had gone through over the last four years since she took over as the company’s Director of Comms and Reputation in the UK.

Nicola explained that one thing she noticed when she first took on the role was that the team was working in silos, and so she felt that they could bring more value to the organisation if they joined up and became one team that worked together collectively and relied on each other to do the best work possible.  She believes that her team have felt quite empowered by the process they have gone through.

Sarah has been in the organisation for five years and so was there at the start of this process and admitted that when she first joined the Internal Comms team, whilst she knew Nicola headed up PR, she didn’t really know who else was in the team.  She explained that back then, they had different teams communicating to their stores, customer service teams, social customers and the press.  Now everyone in the team has a greater understanding of what each of their colleagues do across all the different functions of the team, which include Public Affairs, Social Media, Press Office and Reputation, Proactive PR, Internal Comms and Change Communication (where Sarah’s main role is now). Sarah added that it’s been an enormously creative experience too, being able to share ideas with each other.

Naturally, with all those communications functions coming together, as Nicola said, with all change, some people like and embrace it and some don’t, and as a result some colleagues did leave the organisation.  But those who stayed saw it as an opportunity to help develop their own skills further,.  This is what Nicola said she majored on, i.e. helping them be the best they could be, not just in their specialist subject but across all the other communications disciplines, which she added many organisations are looking for, i.e. more generalists.

Nicola said that a good example of the merged team working well was when the organisation faced a network crisis, which of course put the company under immense pressure in a very short space of time.  In that instance, everybody in the team experienced lots of different disciplines.  For example, the internal comms team posted on Facebook and the Public Affairs team dealt with Press enquiries.  Basically, it became ‘all hands to the pump’ with the whole team working collectively together and she believes that it was only by doing so, that they could contain the situation and get through it.

Nicola highlighted to any company looking to follow suit and merge their teams that putting structures in place is the key to make it work.  She said that that unless you give opportunities for the leadership team to come together and talk through different problems, it’s never really going to work because people in comms disciplines are very busy doing what they need to do and moving on to the next task, so you almost need to force them to step back and think about whether they are doing the right thing and get insights from others about what they are feeling.

Despite the merging of her teams, Nicola still believes specialists have a role to play and that we shouldn’t underestimate the insight that they bring in the communication discipline.  However, she also believes you should aim to get as many people to be generalists as possible as this can both help them as individuals, but also the wider team too. For example, if you have someone who falls ill for a long period of time, you’ve then got a bigger pool to pull on to ensure the comms team doesn’t fall over.

All previous shows of the csuitepodcast series are available on Soundcloud, itunes and TuneIn.  If you subscribe to the show, please can you give it a positive rating and review on itunes in particular as this helps it up the charts!

The show also now has a Facebook page and Twitter feed so please do follow and get involved in the conversation.

Strategic Internal Communications interview with Virgin Trains: csuitepodcast show 35 pt1


with Virgin Trains’ Drew McMillan (left)

The first two parts of Show 35 of the csuitepodcast were recorded at PR Week’s Strategic Internal Communications event in London, which had a theme of creating a more agile, digital and customer focus culture in the business.

My first interview, with Drew McMillan, Head of Internal Communications and Innovation at Virgin Trains, followed his keynote address at the conference about how to create an amazing place to work by borrowing techniques more often used for customer insight.

Drew’s gut instinct was that whilst many consumer brands quite rightly spend millions understanding their customers, they spend way less than 10% of that amount understanding their people, yet so many business use the mantra of their people being their most valuable asset!

He explained that Virgin is a customer led brand that is big in the consumer space, and that the company invests accordingly in understanding its customers.  However, he felt that historically, the organisation hadn’t invested near as much effort and energy in understanding its people and that, like most employers, had previously thought that an annual survey (that often takes a long time to do anything about the responses), perhaps with some additional activities ‘around the edges’, was all that was required.

Drew believes that today’s employees expect to be listened to more often and their input to be acted upon much more quickly.  He therefore wanted to look at a fundamentally different way of applying customer insight to an internal audience and so adapted the company’s consumer facing tool, ‘The Awesometer’, to create an internal Pulse dashboard that has sub components looking at Trust, Empowerment and Engagement.  This dashboard shows an aggregated sense of how Virgin Trains’ people are feeling on a four weekly basis, i.e. how awesome the company is.

Drew’s Pulse dashboard works alongside other Internal Communications tools.  He explained that the company is in the middle of transferring to Office365, although had already implemented Yammer, which gives him rich analytics on sentiment within the business.  In fact, Virgin Trains has been independently audited as one of the most engaged Yammer users in Europe (with 2800 active users) and in the top 12 Yammer Networks worldwide, with a daily Yammer Engagement level of 68% Measure of Active Engagement (MAE), which Drew confirmed is very high.

Virgin also combines this with more traditional one-to-one research, working with Ipsos Loyalty to speak with colleagues in their homes in a very frank and private way about working at Virgin Trains and how the company can improve as a business.  Drew feels the importance of doing these interviews in the home is that people are in a completely different psychological place and will therefore talk differently to how they might do so in a typical open focus group environment.

All these various tools and research methods are part of Virgin’s ACE (Amazing Colleague Experience) program – born out of their ICE program (Incredible Customer Experience), which helped define the seven stages of their customers’ journey with them, from thinking of travelling, through to arriving at their destination. Therefore ACE takes the same methodology by breaking their people’s daily lives into a number of stages, from preparing to come to work in the morning through to getting home at night.

All previous shows of the csuitepodcast series are available on Soundcloud, itunes and TuneIn.  If you subscribe to the show, please can you give it a positive rating and review on itunes in particular as this helps it up the charts!

The show also now has a Facebook page and Twitter feed so please do follow and get involved in the conversation.

Internal Communications interview with IBM: csuitepodcast show 33 pt3

withSandra Grieden of IBM Europe

withSandra Grieden of IBM Europe

For Part 3 of Show 33 of the csuitepodcast [starting at 29:48] that I recorded at Quadriga’s Internal Communications conference in Berlin, I spoke with Sandra Grieden, Brand and IBMer engagement at IBM Europe.

Sandra had been speaking at the conference about how IBM is now emerging as a cognitive solutions and cloud platform company and how her team has to manage the internal communications of those changes to their 370,000+ colleagues, which she achieved by creating an engagement platform, built around IBM’s Watson technology.

For those unaware, Sandra briefly summed up Watson as being the core of IBM’s cognitive business strategy.  It’s a technology platform that understands human and natural language and uses machine learning to reveal insights from data and unstructured data (which could be visual content like videos, social media insights, books etc.).  Watson then analyses all this data, understands it and adds a layer of intelligence to it, as well as understanding complex questions or situations.  It evaluates all the possible meanings of the data and determines what is being asked, presents the users with answers and solutions, who can then make decisions based on the solutions they are being presented with.

Sandra then talked through how Watson was used in IBMs own internal platform, Think Academy, which is a learning tool that has new content uploaded to it on a monthly basis, to help with the strategic priorities for the company, and how it relates to all IBMers (the company employees).

IBMers were first invited to go to Think Academy and firstly get to understand what the company means by cognitive, and what can it do for them as an employee, for their clients and for the world at large.  They then had three months where they asked colleagues to submit ideas into the platform, ideas that could be about anything, and then team up to find the solutions through cognitive build.

Sandra explained that the teams, which could be virtual as they were in different locations, then had to, in effect, become a mini corporation/enterprise, i.e. have a CEO, head of development and someone in charge of promotion.  IBM provided the teams with collaboration tools based on design thinking, to help them, and then asked them to conduct agile sprints to think about their business model, create an initial feasibility study and perhaps even an initial prototype of their solution.

After the ideation phase, the programme went into an investment phase, which is where the entire company got involved, as every IBMer was given $2000 (virtual) to invest in one or more of the 8,500+ ideas that were submitted to the programme, all judged by cognitive coaches, which meant the teams had to promote their ideas across the business.

The ideas that received most funding from their colleagues were then shortlisted and divided into three categories:

  1. New apps/solutions for clients
  2. Improving an existing product of service
  3. Improving existing IBM business process

The top ideas in each category were then selected and representatives from 50 of the teams were invited to IBM’s design studio in Austin, where they met with business and technical mentors, that helped push the idea further and build a working prototype.  Finally, they the finalists were invited to a pitch fest to present to the board, from which eight were selected as winning ideas, which included:

  • Anti-terrorism screening apps
  • Calorie counting apps
  • Environmental apps
  • Chat apps when in need of emotional support

All previous shows of the csuitepodcast series are available on Soundcloud, itunes and TuneIn.  If you subscribe to the show, please can you give it a positive rating and review on itunes in particular as this helps it up the charts!

The show also now has a Facebook page and Twitter feed so please do follow and get involved in the conversation.

Internal Communications interview with Lloyds Banking Group: csuitepodcast show 33 pt2

with Louise Wadman of Lloyds Banking Group

with Louise Wadman of Lloyds Banking Group

For Part 2 of Show 33 of the csuitepodcast [starting at 12:43] that I recorded at Quadriga’s Internal Communications conference in Berlin, I spoke with Louise Wadman, Head of Internal Communications at Lloyds Banking Group.

Louise was the keynote speaker at the conference and at the start of the session she asked the audience to call out barriers that get in the way of them engaging with their colleagues, some of which included:

  • Cascading
  • Different perspectives colleagues have within an organisation
  • Lack of resources
  • Engaging line managers
  • Company culture
  • Having clear messages and calls to action
  • Job Security
  • General apathy
  • Engaging people in a peer-to-peer way

Louise spoke about three parts to Employee Engagement:

  1. Shared belief
  2. Desire to act
  3. Ability to act

A key part of all of this though, according to Louise, is the absolute need to get line managers on board and the need to encourage leaders to take ownership for the various internal comms activities and deliver very clear messages, something she has achieved through role modelling.

Louise explained that at Lloyds Banking Group, their cascades, particularly within the branch networks work very well.  However, as they go through each layer in a traditional cascade, the context can get lost, which is why it’s so important for that context to stay there so that colleagues know not just what they have to do but why they have to do it.

She also talked about the need for advocates in the company and shared a case study in her talk about how Lloyds Bank used ‘Brand Builders’, people in the business, not necessarily with a communications role, but who Louise’s team could go to as change was coming, and ask how processes, systems and customer services could be improved.  These were volunteers within the business who were passionate about serving their customers, who were frustrated at all the things that got in the way of doing so, and wanted to help change to make it better for them and their customers.  The result was that any change to the business had to go through the Brand Builders in some way, which could have been as simple as asking them to participate in a survey or in a focus group to examine a process with subject matter experts from elsewhere in the bank and look at how to improve it.

The other point Louise focussed on was ‘cut through’ of messages, something she said was a tremendous issues across the industry, particularly in the context of social media.

Louis also talked about how Internal Comms can learn from marketing, particularly in five areas:

  1. Engaging the heart and the mind – by using emotion and storytelling in communications, we engage much more of the brain and therefore the emotional connection is stronger
  2. Distinguishing between brand building and triggering sales – too often, in Louise’s opinion, internal communications has the same sort of purpose
  3. Humour – the fun things that are done often get the cut through that is otherwise often hard to achieve
  4. Importance of Video – a format that is easily shared and enables them to reach more colleagues
  5. Campaigns – making sure all channels are aligned on the same campaign

Finally, Louise shared some information about a case study campaign of her own – ‘The Great Debate’.  This was launched at a conference with line managers within the group, with the aim of giving all colleagues the opportunity to share their ideas over a two week period, in response to a single question about the business.  Ideas were posted online, where other colleagues could like it and share comments.  After the two weeks were up, the ideas were assessed, based on how cost effective they would be and what customer benefit they would have.

Out of the 1,230 ideas that were submitted, 27 were taken forward, some of which could be implemented immediately, which meant colleagues were seeing immediate change. However, some ideas on that shortlist needed to be worked through in more detail to see if they could be viable or not.  The colleagues who had submitted those ideas were therefore invited to participate in sessions with others who had commented on the ideas, Lloyds Bank Brand Builders and importantly, business subject matter experts, to explore if it was possible to implement the change.

All previous shows of the csuitepodcast series are available on Soundcloud, itunes and TuneIn.  If you subscribe to the show, please can you give it a positive rating and review on itunes in particular as this helps it up the charts!

The show also now has a Facebook page and Twitter feed so please do follow and get involved in the conversation

Internal Communications interview with ŠKODA Auto: csuitepodcast show 33 pt1

Show 33 of the csuitepodcast was recorded in Berlin where I was attending Quadriga’s Internal Communications conference.  I was there on behalf of translation experts Conversis, as I hosted a lunchtime session at the event discussing the importance of understanding language and culture when managing international communications, which you can read all about in my guest blog post for them.

Russ (left) chatting with Tomáš Novotný of ŠKODA Auto

Russ (left) chatting with Tomáš Novotný of ŠKODA Auto

As for the podcast, my first guest was Tomáš Novotný, Head of Internal Communications at ŠKODA Auto who was at the conference presenting on how the company has had to overcome challenges in talking to employees who, given they work mainly in factories, predominantly aren’t desk based and so are not easy to reach through intranets and online channels.  Therefore traditional print media is still important for Škoda, and they continue to produce a weekly magazine, Skoda Mobil, and monthly newspaper, as well as still using pin-boards around the manufacturing plants.

Tomas explained that his team carefully analyses all activity to help continually improve what they do and one a further challenge, given how strong their trade union is, was to gain the respect and trust from employees.  They therefore simplified the language used in the magazine and newspaper, which has resulted in people reading more articles, plus the team added more graphics and pictures, and now share more stories about the employees themselves, reducing the amount of articles about senior and top management.

It’s not just about print though, as Tomas said they started working with video about two years ago to show employees how the company is using innovation.  They produyce videos, on average three minutes in length, to tell stories about how the company is working with interesting and sophisticated machines or instruments, but crucially, involve the employees who are actually using them.

One Millionth Car Give Away

Tomas shared an internal comms campaign that he was particularly proud of, but he made the point that Škoda always plan to reach a broader audience if possible, beyond just internal, so long as there is nothing confidential being shared, as they want to promote their employees as Brand Ambassadors and present them in a way that they are proud of the brand.

The case study was from a couple of years ago when, for the first time, Skoda produced and sold one million cars in a year.

Firstly, the company took photos of employees from all over the world, and delivered a message with an image made up of over 1350 faces, that said that only through their contribution could they have delivered such results.  They then created a microsite where colleagues could send messages to each other on how they’d helped them through the year.  Each day, unbeknown to their employees, Škoda chose two of what they considered the best of those internal thank you messages, and delivered a cake to the person who was being thanked, with the printed message from the colleague doing the thanking!

With regards to the actual millionth car, they decided to use it for a CSR activity and so asked employees to vote for which NGO they would give it to, the winner being a children’s charity.

All previous shows of the csuitepodcast series are available on Soundcloud, itunes and now TuneIn too.  If you subscribe to the show, please can you give it a positive rating and review on itunes in particular as this helps it up the charts!

The show also now has a Facebook page and Twitter feed so please do follow and get involved in the conversation.

c-suite podcast show 18 – World Public Relations Forum Special II

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Last week, I recorded show 18 of the csuite podcast, the second in the series of specials that I’m producing on behalf of the World Public Relations Forum, which takes place in Toronto from May 29th to 31st and that I’m looking forward to attending.

Ezri Carlebach, Consultant, Lecturer and Senior Associate at the PR Network and Arun Sudhaman, President and Editor-in-Chief of The Holmes Report, were with me in the studios of markettiers and joining us on the line from Brazil was Paulo Henrique Soares, Director of Corporate Communications for Brazilian mining giant Vale.  There was a good connection between on all three of my guests as Paulo and Ezri had met before through the International Association of Business Communicators, whilst Arun’s publication had included Paulo in their Influence 100 list of in-house communicators around the world.

Once again, we got through a lot of topics, including:

  1. Challenges in Internal Communications across countries and cultures
  2. The work of Geert Hofstede
  3. The Holmes Report’s Influence 100 list
  4. Benefits of attending global conferences and winning awards
  5. Podcasting
  6. Global Communications Report
  7. Design Thinking

The main areas of discussion though, were around Paulo’s keynote presentation and Ezri’s workshop that they will be delivering at the conference in May.

We began the show discussing how Paulo deals with the challenges he faces in communicating to the 110,000+ employees and third party contractors that work for Vale across 27 countries, a large number of whom aren’t desk based but will be working in a mine, on the railroad or in the ports.

He explained that the first thing they have to overcome is the different languages that are spoken across the company and they do that by creating everything in Brazil using Brazilian Portuguese and English, and then allow the local teams to translate and adapt the content for their local languages.

Paulo then went on to talk about how those working in Internal Communications have to understand how people from different cultures want to react with their organisation and like to receive information in different ways, quoting the work for Dutch social psychologist, Geert Hofstede, who said that there are four dimensions to national cultures:

  1. individualism-collectivism
  2. uncertainty avoidance
  3. power distance (strength of social hierarchy)
  4. masculinity-femininity (task orientation versus person-orientation)

When doing my own research, I discovered a great resource, The Hofstede Centre, which is worth checking out if you want to find out more about this topic of the impact of cultural differences.

Paulo continued by saying that Brazilians or Latin people prefer more interaction and face to face communication and respect hierarchy much more than other countries and so he has to take things like this into account when delivering information.

Ezri added about the need to use visual communications in internal comms to get consistent messages across different languages and cultures, which Paulo said they use a lot of, but that they have a very strong mix of tools and delivery methods, including intranet, printed and email newsletters, digital, mobile apps, one minute podcasts, TV screens on boats that some employees use to get to work and even paid for billboards where they know around 8000 of their employees could be travelling past each day to get to the mines, for example. However, he explained that when it comes to images in particular, they also encourage their local teams to replace the imagery to suit their market, changing photos of employees on documentation, for example, to suit the right countries.

Paulo also explained how they train their managers around the world in a similar manner to media training, but instead for talking to the employees, as through research they have found that most employees prefer to receive information face to face. Vale have built, what they call, ‘The Leadership Hub’, which is online and is there to support this area, providing managers with the tools to communicate to their teams, including using videos and presentations.

The mention of podcasts led us on to a quick discussion about how we are listening to more of them, and in fact Arun produces his own one called The Echo Chamber, which I’ve recently subscribed to on itunes.  The topic of podcasting was actually covered in detail in Show 13 and is well worth a listen if you missed it!

Bringing the chat back to the World Forum, we then talked about the Global Communications Report that Arun explained will be launched by The Holmes Report in Toronto.  The research is being carried out in partnership with a number of organisations, including The Global Alliance and AMEC, but is being led by USC Centre for Public Relations, within the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.  Arun believes it will be one of, if not the biggest survey of the global public relations industry.

In the final part of the show, we focussed the topic of Ezri’s Forum workshop, Design Thinking, which he explained is a socially embedded practice and something that is high on the agenda of business executives.

Ezri referred to the Harvard Business Review from September 2015 (right), which explained that executives are using Design Thinking to devise strategy and manage change, being driven by a number of reasons, including the fact that businesses know they need to attract talent from a new generation that possibly thinks in different ways and that are also used to different types of attributes, particularly at work.  For example, younger pople are looking for ‘purpose’ from the companies they choose to work for, i.e. why is the business doing something, as opposed to wanting the huge salary package or the job security.

For anyone looking to read up on this topic, it was covered in an article in The Holmes Report about The Creativity in PR Study, but as well as the Harvard Business review above, Ezri pointed listeners to few sites:

If you are interested in getting involved in this series, whether as a guest or as a sponsor, please do get in touch using the contact form on the show website.

You can also keep the conversation going on twitter around these podcasts using #csuitepodcast and around the World PR Forum using #WPRF2016.

The Content Curators – latest CIPR csuite podcast on Internal Communications

My latest podcast for the CIPRSM discussed the role that Social Media plays within Internal Communications and I was fortunate to have three really engaging guests in the markettiers4dc studio with me, which I also added to with two interviews I recorded at the recent PR Week Internal Communications Europe event I attended in Amsterdam, courtesy of translation experts Conversis, who sponsored the event given the amount of work they do in this particular area.

Please also subscribe, rate and review this podcast series on iTunes to help us up the charts

Nicola Green, Director of Communications and Reputation at O2, kicked off the show by talking about O2 Amp, which is how the organisation gets employees to be brand ambassadors.  Nicola explained that O2 have a list of their top 50 employees who share content and they brief them just as they would journalists so that they can share company content externally, which is one method she uses to communicate with other employees, a theme that certainly cropped up throughout the podcast.

LinkedIn’s Senior Internal Communications Manager for EMEA, Natasha Gowans then talked through her company’s Bring in your Parents Day, which centred on the fact that, according to LinkedIn’s own research, 1 in 3 parents didn’t know what they ‘grown-up’ children did at work!  They had around 1,800 parents of LinkedIn staff take part, as well as other business getting involved too, but the key outcome was that their employees took to social media to share the initiative externally, which Nicola agreed is a great way to expand the message to a wider audience, resulting in a great positioning for the brand too.

[Download Natasha’s presentation from the PR week event]

My third guest in the studio was Sarah Ogden, who is a Board Director at 3 Monkeys Communications, and reflecting on those initial two case studies, she felt that they showed social media is both a tool for communication and engagement from an internal comms point of view but also it’s a platform for collaboration, where you can bring employees together to build things, whether it’s product ideas, thinking about innovation in the workplace and how as a business you can be better beyond communications.

I asked though, whether embracing social media in the workplace also brings with it some rather difficult challenges, and highlighted the issue HSBC had only earlier that week, when employees posted an incredibly inappropriate on Social Media of a mock ISIS execution, taken at a team building event.  To be fair to HSBC, they’d handled the situation extremely well by sacking the individuals involved immediately.  However, Sarah said that opportunities always bring challenges and that it’s about how it’s managed.  Nicola added that this also comes down to trust and O2 do a lot around educating their employees around the power of social media and the potential issues they could fall into the traps of.

Continuing the theme of creating internal content that is shared externally, in the second of the two interviews I recorded at the PR Week Europe event, Heineken International’s Global Channels Manager for Internal Communications, Holly Bostock talked about their Green Room project, which I recommend taking a look at.  It was Holly that described her team’s role in the project as ‘Curators of the Content’, which I thought was an excellent description.  She explained that from their own research, 78% of their own employees talk to their social circles about Heineken, and 30% share something on social media every month, but rather than just sharing the latest adverts, she thought the project enabled them to share something different, like company CSR stories.

[Download Holly’s presentation from the PR week event]

Sarah said the importance of this kind of comms by the fact that if an individual shares something about a brand or a business it will get much higher levels of engagement than if the business posted it.  Natasha backed this up with the fact that according to LinkedIn’s own research, employee networks are 10 times bigger than the corporate network and seen as more authentic too.

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