Webinar Transcript Part 1: Internal Communications Top Challenges Bring New Opportunities for Action
Paul Barton, ABC, Principal Consultant of Paul Barton Communications, and Kris Pugsley, Senior Global Communications Manager for ON Semiconductor, recently co-presented a webinar hosted by Emma Hanley of Poppulo (formerly Newsweaver). The following is Part 1 of a two-part partial transcript of that webinar. Here is the recorded webinar with audio and slides (sign-in required), the results of the polls taken during the webinar, and the PowerPoint slides.
Paul: When you are talking about changes in the world, look at them as opportunities. As a consultant, I think there are three areas that drive the pressures and changes we see.
- There are economic pressures with us coming out of an economic recession. There is still a lot of economic uncertainty with world events every day that fluctuates, record highs in the stock market that can drop and pop.
- There are cultural considerations that did not go away with the election; there is still a large anti-corporate sentiment that is affecting all of our businesses.
- Technology is changing every day and that provides new challenges as well as new opportunities.
At this time, we want to find out more about you. We ask if your company has a growing demand for communication and growing results. This is a question I recently asked my blog readers and my clients and I am interested to see if the folks online today mirror that interest.
What’s measurable isn’t always meaningful and what’s meaningful isn’t always measurable. So we need to look at what’s driving the business.
So actually, this is more than my poll, largest in the somewhat category. Again, with the recession, we had to cut back on our budgets. In many ways, the economy has turned around somewhat, but it’s still hard to get those that were cut to come back into the budget. There is a lot of pressure on internal communication to show its impact on the business. It’s often the case for a non-revenue producing function. My suggestion is that we show our results with data that is unavailable, meaningful and digestible. What I mean by that is we need to have data that people cannot challenge, data that is unassailable and data that is meaningful. What’s measurable isn’t always meaningful and what’s meaningful isn’t always measurable. So we need to look at what’s driving the business. We need to then present it in a digestible format for our leaders. We need to speak the language of leadership. I don’t think anyone speaks the language of leadership that I have presented to better than Kris Pugsley, Senior Global Communications Manager for ON Semiconductor.
Kris: Thanks, Paul. I transitioned to the communications field about five years ago from the legal department. Working in the legal field, you can assign a lot of numbers and data. One of the very first things I figured out that was missing from our company was the numbers and the data. In our company, English is a second language for most of our 30,000 employees as about 80% of them are in manufacturing with EASL. English also is a second language for me, which is another reason why I thought we needed to communicate different types of ways and track the most effective ones.
One of the things that we converse with all our departments within the company is to know the audience. It sounds simple, but if you don’t have the data to track what’s most successful, it would hard to provide that guidance to other people. It would be hard to go on with this presentation without thanking my global team because without each of them, we would not be a success. This is what we share with our internal audience. If you look at the left-hand side, at the top, our department manages our company email list. That includes messages for our employees, our leadership team, regional email list, country email list, site email list and departmental email list. Also, these messages cannot go out without our approval and we schedule these messages based on the needs and what is also coming up from other areas. The different types of channels we like to target is our monthly newsletter, which we call “The Circuit.” Our other publications within the company have specific messaging to that group, so we have newsletters coming out to the security team, departments like HR as well.
The connection is our intranet where we post a lot of our employee messages through a SharePoint platform. We also have an employee question box via email where any employee around the world can ask us any question. Our staff manages that box and employees receive a response within 24 to 48 hours. Many times, it’s to tell them that we are looking to get them a response, but we are checking that mailbox.
The other item is something we call the “All Hands Meeting,” where our CEO and guest executive make a presentation to the entire company on a quarterly basis following our public earnings release. We work with departments on promotional materials for things like recruiting events or job fairs. We have monitors on many of our sites and following our acquisitions starting on day one, all our employees see these types of messages including a welcome video. Corporate PR and Social Media are also a part of our team and we all work together to make sure our messaging is consistent across the board.
This next bullet might raise an eyebrow for some of you with the words buses and radios. But with buses around the world, we are using advertising to recruit employees to join our company by showing them we are a responsible employer and leveraging some of the company rewards we have received. Radio is an area where we recently expanded into some of our sites where we are doing recruiting bulletins, but it also a way to message our brand and reputation as a company.
The last goal is your phone. During our last acquisition, we had an all hands presentation at a site that was for many of our employees that were new to our company in the acquisition. You can tell that nerves and tension were very high. So when I opened the meeting to introduce our CEO, we weren’t receiving any employee questions. What I did was I asked every employee to take out their phone and save a certain phone number into their phone, which happens to be my cell phone number. This worked very well to receive employee questions, but I did not release the private number for all of you who are wondering. My phone number is listed under our media relations contact and our external website, and also through our employee directory. It was a great way for employees to engage and a way for them to communicate through in a way that was transparent and that they could trust.
We like to show value and it’s hard to do that for non-revenue generating organizations such as communications.
We like to show value and it’s hard to do that as Paul mentioned for non-revenue generating organizations such as communications. For the internal communications department, the team actually tracked the type of messages we were receiving and the open rate. Prior to or following up signing up for this conference, a couple of you did not know our company is transitioning to the Poppulo platform. Part of the reason for that is our company will be showing our value to our different organizations through our metrics. The platform we are using now is more of an external marketing platform, so some of the data is more difficult to comb through then what we have seen with the Poppulo platform.
On a higher level, some of the things we look at are the total number of messages we are sending out. You could see in the first two quarters actual data numbers from our key performance indicators presentation and strategy update that we sent out 350 messages in the first half of the year. We are still looking to finalizing an aggression effort for a remote app position and that was 14% of the messaging sent out. This is an important tool for us to use as we continue to acquire companies and show the amount of time that the team is spending from a holistic perspective on integration efforts.
The next thing we are looking at is open rates and click-throughs for our different messaging. One of the things that we do is share these types of files with various departments so they can see where their open rates compare to others and maybe how we can better streamline their messages to achieve higher open rates. One item to mention is that for many fashion industries the open rate is 19%, which we are above. But we would like to see our messages open theoretically 100% of the time, but we all know that doesn’t exactly happen. So by using these types of tools, it is very easy to go to the department to show them the value of sending messages through the email platform. With that, I will turn it over to Paul for our next poll question.
Paul: When I saw first the way Kris reports data, I was just blown away because I was so used to the communicator producing a lot of text-heavy Microsoft Word documents to try to show our value and Kris just had these beautiful and colorful Excel data sheets that really spoke the language of her leadership and really just made the data almost unavailable. In fact, she uses the data to drive decisions rather than to defend decisions. She makes the data actually come to a senior leader and shows them the data and says ‘you need to start doing this the way because other department leaders are doing it and because look at your data.’ I just find that fascinating because as communicators, most of us fall into a trap of often using our data to defend ourselves rather than drive future results.
In fact, she uses the data to drive decisions rather than to defend decisions
We have another poll question here to set up the next area of our conversation and this is in your organization is there an increased need in stronger internal branding and employee engagement? Again the answers are very much so, somewhat, or not at all. So again when we talk about those pressures earlier, internal employees are not immune from the outside pressures of the world and there is clearly anti-corporate sediment in some quarters that is requiring us to do throughout ways that we haven’t had to ask. So again it looks like the results veer toward my own kind of survey of what subscribers and my clients and that is that there is zero or not at all. That was the result in my poll as well, so clearly this is an issue for us to be driven by a number of them.
Our communications, PR, HR teams need to put together integrated messaging in a way we haven’t had to do so before.
My suggestion to deal with this and where I think we are headed is to really put together integrated messages that we need to work to and communications need to work with.
Our communications, PR, HR teams need to put together integrated messaging in a way we haven’t had to do so before.
- Some of that message needs to reinforce to the employees the employee value proposition once again.
- We need to clearly demonstrate and authentic commitment to diversity.
- We need to show employees that we are acting as responsible corporate citizens in the communities where we work.
- Above all, we really need to make sure our messages are credible. If our messages aren’t deemed authentic, I believe our employees are going to disregard them out of hand.
Kris: I completely agree and personalizing some of our stories and the way we introduce ourselves in our companies does have a tremendous impact on our internal brand as well as how our companies are viewed externally. So back to the data, my favorite thing. The internal branding and employee engagement, we like to track that in several different methods. The first one I shared with you was internal communication via email. The second one here is through our newsletter, and a few years ago when our team started growing and building, we expanded our newsletter from a four- to five-page newsletter that did not have a specific cadence for publication to a monthly publication. The newsletter now is published once a month and is 20 pages. What we like to do is make sure we are engaging our global workforce. We also, as you see here, track the amount of articles that are coming in and we like to have a lower participation level and two of the reasons why we do not have the majority of our employees which happens to be North America and Europe. We would like to have engagement and participation in Asia, which is where the majority of our workforce is. Overall, I would say the most of our engagement user participation of submissions and of articles comes from Asia.
Now we also track the type of articles or the amount of articles that are coming in from our executive leadership team so that when they are asking us for some data summaries on their department, they can see which channels their department is using the most. For the first two quarters of the year, you can see we had around 29% participation that stems from our employment activities, which is contributed by our HR team. The next thing we track is our readership of our newsletter. A lot of you may think that digital is the only way to go, but I am here to tell you that people still like to read paper. We do print our employee newsletter and this is distributed to our corporate offices and a lot of our regional and site offices are doing the same thing. They are also using that for recruiting purposes because the things we put in our employee newsletter are confidential or proprietary, so we do track the open rates of those issues that we send and we also look at what links employees are clicking on for the digital version. Local sites as I mentioned are printing them as well for distribution to their employees. This newsletter is proofread and put together by our internal communications team. Our senior visual designer is the one that puts the creative eyes, because I cannot draw or design anything to save my life.
Then you can see on the chart on the right-hand side, we are also tracking the types of articles that I mentioned coming into various departments. These types of statistics and analytics create some friendly competition within our company by our different leadership teams and our different sites. They have competition now on who can submit the most articles or who has the most visibility through this employee newsletter. Again, the reason why we decided to stay on this newsletter to a 20-page publication is because it is a way to share company information that you would traditionally send via email, but with our workforce as I mentioned it being mostly remote or in manufacturing settings, is to have something they can physically read. One example is one of our Asian facilities where I met with one of our employees getting of one of our buses and asked him what was in his pocket. You could see the newsletter was in his pocket and he said “Oh this is the only way I know what is going on with the company is to read this 20-page publication.” It became a good way for us to reach out to our employees and find out what matters the most to them. You can see by the type of articles people are reading that it is mostly our employee relations or HR-related subjects. This is why the newsletter is very heavy on those areas, but we do post some of the things in there on social media or through our PR team.
The next line I am sharing with you is our SharePoint analytics. So some of the things that we track are who is clicking on what sites on our intranet. On the far left, you can see we created an integration news website following each actual visit and we post information that is specific to the integration that is a new site. The site is open to any employee around the world, but it is really target messaging to employees that recently joined our company and tells them the process through the integrations. We repost our email messages in there as well as replays of any town hall meetings or webinars. Our data sites (Phoenix site) use is a little low than some of the others because our messaging app in our Phoenix site, which is our corporate office, we utilize different methods here that happen to be more engaging with our employees. Some of those are with lunch and learn or our monitors we have all over the site. We do not expect that number to be very high.
… they created an interactive platform for employees to communicate with HR, with each other and their respective leadership team. She has done a great job and it has been benchmarked as the best practice in our company and we are now pulling it into other manufacturing sites.
The connection is our main landing page for every single employee to take a look at our global news. Our publication and our website are named after things that our industry, so “Circuitry”, the “Connection” is a component of that. You’ll see with the connection we have half a million hits or little over half a million hits in Q2 and we always take a look at where the unique users are coming in and what type of views we are getting on what type of material. On the far right, we have our team in the Czech Republic and they are very successful with their SharePoint site as you can see it is over 1.1 million hits and many people questioned how they are able to get such high results in the region because that site happens to be a manufacturing site. Well two reasons:
- They made it their main landing page in their local language that people are obviously going to gravitate to.
- The second is that they created an interactive platform for employees to communicate with HR, with each other and their respective leadership team.
She has done a great job and it has been benchmarked as the best practice in our company and we are now pulling it into other manufacturing sites.