IABC Atlanta | News
295
blog,qode-social-login-1.0,,select-theme-ver-4.2,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-5.4.4,vc_responsive
 

It’s Membership Month at IABC!

It’s a big world out there for professional communicators – but you don’t have to go it alone. Why be a lone wolf when you can be a part of the tribe?

The International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) is unequaled as a resource for community, networking, and professional development. Current members know it, and new members don’t take long to realize the benefits of IABC membership, or to wonder how they ever got along without it. Being a part of the IABC tribe brings you access to the Association’s full range of benefits and opportunities, including conferences, seminars, job postings, and our library of materials for perfecting and furthering the work you do. Above all, membership puts you in contact with a constellation of amazing professional communicators like you, all around the world, in every sector of business, ready to learn from you and help you to grow. Sometimes it takes a village… and sometimes it takes a tribe!

March is Member Month, and while there’s still time, there’s no better time to join the IABC.

Until the end of the month, we’re offering a slew of cool perks and benefits, including:

  • For new and renewing members: a 10% discount on your dues, and a chance to win the drawing for the Grand Prize VIP World Conference Package (details below)
  • For current members who refer new/renewing members: for every new or renewing member who lists you as a referral source, a chance to win a $250 Visa gift card; a year of free membership for five or more successful referrals; and more
  • For chapter leaders: a $200 Visa gift card for small, medium, and large chapters with the greatest net growth

What’s in the Grand Prize VIP World Conference Package? One full conference registration to the 2018 IABC World Conference in Montreal, including three nights of luxury hotel accommodation, shuttle service, conference VIP seating, and more!

There’s no time like the present – start or renew membership with your IABC chapter today, and make 2018 the year you join the tribe!
Join Today

IABC Atlanta Golden Flame Award Winners Share How to Win!

In Case You Missed It… An Overview of our February Networking Luncheon!

There’s a simple recipe for winning a communications project award:

An award-winning communications project entry describes a complete strategy with defined objectives that were measured early and often and then achieved or exceeded.

While simple to define, naturally, the execution is the challenge. And that’s where IABC Atlanta’s February luncheon attendees received not just a few tips, but a wealth of great information. Eric Berrios, VP of Professional Recognition for IABC Atlanta and Director of Strategic Planning at Realm, facilitated a panel of 2017 IABC Atlanta Golden Flames Awards winners as they briefed us on their companies’ award-winning projects and shared entry creation tips.

Andrea Dempsey from Newell Brands presented the strategy for her team’s social media management of the 2017 Bassmaster Classic, a three-day fishing tournament.

The team’s success was rooted in extensive planning (and contingency planning). They prepared video, image, and written content based on anticipated scenarios. During the event, the content was deployed and recycled according to real-time changes.

“Just because your event will be unpredictable doesn’t mean you should plan less,” said Dempsey. “If anything, you should plan more.”

Newell Brands also found high value in leveraging platform tools such as geo-targeted Facebook and Twitter ads to personalize communication with interested audiences.

Lee Birdsong presented Southern Company’s creation of an updated corporate brand. Their objective was to develop a contemporary brand that is tied closely to company strategy and recognizes the company’s recent and future growth along with its energy sector leadership.

The team interviewed and surveyed stakeholders, evaluated and questioned the answers, summarized what they had learned, and shared it with the design team. Birdsong emphasized revisiting project and company objectives as each project decision is encountered so that the project remains on target.

After many iterations, the Southern Company team landed on a brand and logo that, even to a layperson, clearly met the objectives defined at the beginning of the project.

A comprehensive internal and external rollout solidified the project. Their primary focus was on internal audiences, though. “When you get employees to be ambassadors of your brand, they will be ambassadors to your community,” said Birdsong.

Swati Joshi of GE Power and Thom Gonyeau of Mountain View Group partnered to create the Golden Flames Best in Show award winner, an anthem video for GE’s Power Services.

“Our goal was to capture the hearts and minds of our customers and employees,” said Joshi. That meant creating a video that appealed to and reflected the company’s global presence. So the team traveled across the world for footage and included all types of stakeholders in the video – employees, customers, and end users of their services.

Joshi and Gonyeau emphasized the value of high production quality and creating an emotional connection with the audience. They agreed with the rest of the panel that a clear strategy, message, and measurable objectives are key to success.

For more about the luncheon panelists and 2017 IABC Atlanta Golden Flame winners, visit the IABC event page.

Photos by Leland Holder of Leland on Location.

Author’s Note: Suzanne O’Brien works with businesses and organizations to design and execute informational, inspirational and educational initiatives that promote stakeholder experience and satisfaction. Her work is grounded in the conviction that collaborative and creative design yields effective and sustainable solutions.

Kick Off the Year with a Plan for Better Balance

In Case You Missed It… An Overview of our January Networking Luncheon!

IABC Atlanta launched its 2018 monthly luncheon series with a seasonally-appropriate discussion on work-life balance and optimization.

Corporate leadership speaker, coach and author Tricia Molloy facilitated an inspirational exercise in identifying our motivations, values and natural gifts to help us prioritize the pursuit of our professional and personal goals.

To identify which aspirations are most important (and why), we began by creating our personal “balance lists” – quickly documenting our lives from such perspectives as work, family, home, relationships, health, finances and spirituality. Rating our level of satisfaction in each area helped us decide which we will focus on improving this year. “There’s no such thing as perfect balance,” coached Molloy. “We’re not looking for a 10 in all areas of life. We’re looking for satisfaction.”

Motivation + Values + Natural Gifts = My Purpose

The second half of the session focused on strategies for success in pursuing change in the areas we prioritized. Purpose is the foundation of everything we do and the decisions we make. “Each decision brings you closer or further away from your purpose,” said Molloy.

Other important strategies include managing our energy and creating the space by clearing out clutter. Citing her 2006 (updated 2012) book Working with Wisdom: 10 Universal Principles for Enlightened Entrepreneurs, she recommended the use of positive affirmations, along with mindfulness and authenticity.

Finally, Molloy armed us with a tool for documenting our balance commitments. “When you know why you want more balance—what you would do if you had more time, energy and other resources—then it’s easier to make changes, learn new skills and develop better habits,” she assured us. “Your ‘Why,’ like more time with your family, becoming healthier or advancing in your career, will keep you focused and motivated.” She sent us off with a final compelling story about the modern-day treasure hunter Mel Fisher and this question: “What treasure are you searching for?”

About the Speaker

Tricia Molloy is a corporate leadership speaker on work-life balance and achieving goals. She presents keynote talks and vision board workshops at conferences and for organizations like Marriott, the CDC and Kellogg. She also owns Molloy Communications, a public relations firm. For more information on her speaking and coaching programs, visit triciamolloy.com. You can also connect with her on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

Author’s Note: Suzanne O’Brien works with businesses and organizations to design and execute informational, inspirational and educational initiatives that promote stakeholder experience and satisfaction. Her work is grounded in the conviction that collaborative and creative design yields effective and sustainable solutions.

New Year, New Face for IABC Atlanta

In January, IABC Atlanta launched our new and improved website. The clean design, slick integration with IABC Atlanta’s social media channels and easy user interface were the vision of incoming Co-VP of Communications, Cassidy Herrold. After the January luncheon, I sat down with Cassidy to learn more about her creative vision for the new face of IABC Atlanta.

What was your vision for the new IABC website?
Our website is a driving force in promoting our mission, which is to increase awareness that clear communications drive businesses. IABC Atlanta is the premier community for communications professionals, so our website needs to empower our site users to find event/networking information quickly and intuitively. The new site demonstrates our global impact by integrating the latest IABC brand guidelines to create a cohesive brand image. The new site provides robust communication resources and focuses on creating an engaging experience that connects individuals, organizations and influencers. We are really confident that the new IABC Atlanta website will position our chapter well as we work to extend our reach, support our community, and grow membership.

Tell us about some of the new features that you are most excited about on the new site?
Many of the changes were made with our end users in mind, to make the event registration process easier and more interactive. Below are some of the key new features:

  • EVENT CALENDAR – The new website features a detailed calendar with email integration for iCal and Google calendars. Each calendar event lists general information regarding date, location and time, as well as a map and social sharing icons to promote the event on all social channels.
  • LATEST NEWS/PRESS SECTION – The Latest News/Press section is an area to post photos/videos from past luncheons and highlight any notable press for IABC Atlanta.
  • SOCIAL MEDIA FEEDS – With the increased focus on social media, the new site also streams IABC Atlanta’s tweets, posts and YouTube videos through a new social footer on the site. We also focused on integrating share icons on all blog posts, articles and event pages.

Those of us who have done website redesigns in our professional jobs know how much work is involved in a project like this. Was there any part of the design and build that was really challenging? Really fun?
The website redesign, development, and launch went very smoothly! When I started as a committee member, the website redesign was one of the first projects I wanted to tackle and it proved to be the best way to dive into IABC. We are the premiere communications association in Atlanta, and we wanted a website that really reflected the excellence we strive for as a chapter. From redefining the user flow to editing site content, the redesign was a great way to get to know the organization, our mission and our capabilities.

What has your involvement with IABC Atlanta as a committee member meant to you?
I joined because IABC’s mission really resonates with me. IABC empowers a global network of communicators working in diverse disciplines to identify, share, and apply the best communication practices. As a committee member, I value learning from experienced communicators and the vast professional growth opportunities that IABC Atlanta provides.

When you aren’t designing amazing websites, tell us what you do in your day job?
I’m an award-winning, multidisciplinary art director & designer at Mountain View Group with a love of smart ideas and an eye for pixel perfection. I have worked with a variety of clients (from Fortune 100 companies to small startups) with my core strengths in brand identity, interaction design, UI/UX, environmental design, film/photography, content creation and digital analytics. I design brand logos and identities for nationally recognized clients, and I have extensive experience creating brand guidelines/visual identity systems to ensure a consistent corporate identity. I develop, design, and launch interactive experiences, including multiple websites and mobile apps. Certified in both Google AdWords and Analytics, I also create strategic social media campaigns that exceed online traffic goals.

At IABC Atlanta, we know many of our members and volunteers have the support of their employers for their participation in our chapter’s work. Smart employers know that good communication drives business in the Atlanta community. Can you tell us more about Mountain View Group?
Mountain View Group is a creative agency specializing in corporate marketing, strategic communications, and culture transformation through storytelling, digital content, and design. For 30 years, Mountain View has worked with a diverse set of clients including GE, Raytheon, The Coca-Cola Company, Alcon, UPS, and CSM Bakery Solutions, among others. They help to build exceptional brand experiences and to bring clarity to communications that are crisp, compelling and authentic.

Special Thanks! IABC Atlanta would like to thank Whitney Parks of Parks Evolution Marketing, for her critical role in this project and and the members of the IABC Board who helped review and create content for the new website.

Written by: JoEllen Saeli-Lane, Co-VP of Communications, IABC Atlanta

7 Tips for Creating an Internal Communication Plan that Effectively Engages Employees

Communication planning season is upon us! Throw the confetti and bring out the glasses of wine.

Communication teams are brainstorming, planning, and putting the finishing touches on their 2018 plans, or so I hope. Effective communication is the result of intentional planning and identification of specific tactics that will achieve organizational goals.

While most communication plans are created with external audiences in mind, it is imperative that internal audiences remain at the forefront of all communication planning.

An organization’s success begins with its ability to engage and inform its employees. They are the gatekeepers to an organization’s overall performance and profitability, so it is vital that they understand how their daily tasks align and contribute to the organization’s goals and strategies.

If you have completed your 2018 internal communication plans, hats off to you. If you have not, do not fear.

Here are seven tips to consider when creating your internal communication plan.

1. Use Polls or Surveys to Identify Areas of Improvement

Create a poll or survey to identify improvement areas for your current plan. If you have time, create a survey that focuses on specific areas you suspect need improvement. Use open-ended questions to solicit feedback.

If you are short on time or work in an environment in which the employees are pressed for time, consider using a poll. Select one or two questions that you think would really help with updating the communication plan.

For example, ask employees if they are satisfied with the current communication vehicles used to distribute information. Do they feel the information distributed is useful? What would they change about the current internal communications?
These questions are quick and to the point. Employees are more likely to participate and provide feedback.

2. Interview Current Employees

Employees are a valuable resource to use when attempting to gauge the organization’s culture and climate. Interview a few to get their opinion of what the company is doing well in regards to employee engagement, as well as what the company could improve on. Use their responses to come up with topics or themes for the company newsletter, blog post, event planning, or even providing feedback to senior managers and executives.

3. Listen … No, Really Listen

You have conducted surveys, polls, and interviews, now make sure you take those responses and really listen to the needs, desires, and feelings of your internal audience. They trusted you enough to share their thoughts and opinions, use that information to make a better strategy to communicate and engage them in 2018.

Effective listening is one of the most crucial skills to have. It is also one of the hardest to apply. We all have a lot going on and it is easy to “zone-out” when you should be listening. It takes a conscious effort to remain in the present and not drift away.

But you must do it. If you are serious about improving your organization’s internal communications, listen to the needs of your internal audience and try to address those needs in the upcoming year.

You will not be able to address them all, but pick a few and be intentional about bringing those issues to the forefront throughout the year. The employees will be appreciative and more likely to participate in future surveys, interview, and polls.

There is nothing more frustrating as an employee than taking the time to respond to a survey or poll only to find out your concerns have fallen on deaf ears. If for some reason you are unable to address a concern, be transparent and give a reason why it may not be addressed in the upcoming year.

Transparency and honesty go a long way in gaining the trust and respect of the employees.

4. Keep Up with Technology

This is a difficult task, no doubt, but very necessary. Technology continues to change how we communicate with one another and it shows no signs of slowing down. As a communicator, you must stay informed of these changes because they could affect your communication goals or the decisions you make about distributing information.

You can stay abreast with the help of social media, your IT personnel, articles, and professional associations.

Being informed about upcoming technologies can help with planning your communication needs in the future. Does your company need to upgrade? Can the system be used by all departments? Is it a system used by communicators only? Will it enhance your current system and increase productivity?

These are all questions that need to be asked when deciding if the latest technology will be beneficial in communicating with internal stakeholders.

5. Use Multiple Communication Channels, If Necessary

Different communication channels are needed depending on the complexity of the message being delivered. Many times, you need to use multiple channels to ensure the message is received efficiently and in a format, that provides clarity.

Decide if the message is complicated or will elicit strong feelings. If so, a face-to-face meeting or broadcast media may be appropriate. Allowing the audience to interact with the speaker can absolve doubt and fear. The audience also has the opportunity to ask questions and interact with the speaker.

Mobile channels can be used to deliver private, complex messages to individuals or small groups. The audience is able to interpret the speaker’s tone and message. Mobile channels can save on time and difficulty it may take to coordinate a face-to-face meeting.

If the message is less personal, consider using email, websites, intranet, or social media. However, make sure the message is clear and to the point.
Messages that need little to no interaction can be delivered in the written form: policies, letters, announcement, etc.

Use a combination of these channels to make sure the message is being delivered in the most efficient manner.

6. Be Transparent

Consult with senior management and executives to determine a policy for sharing information. Lack of information in a timely manner leads to rumors and anxiety. Employees feel distrust and detachment from the organization when they are kept in the dark.

Of course, you cannot share everything, but senior leadership should make every effort to share information about what is going on in the organization and how it will affect its employees. If change is coming down the pipeline, address the changes to expect.

Frequently sharing information on a consistent basis will help strengthen the employee’s commitment to the organization. Remember they are adults and would rather hear bad news than no news.

7. Determine Your Metrics

Last, but certainly not least, identify the metrics you will use to define success. Decide if your definition of a successful internal communications campaign is defined by social shares, employee engagement metrics, or the number of employees logging onto the intranet.

Will you use surveys and polls throughout the year? If so, at what intervals? What are you looking for in your analysis of the data collected? Are you measuring likes, comments, and shares on an article? Did a topic really get employees talking? Was the company picnic and holiday party a success because of information gathered from employees?

Whatever you decide to use should measure results that move the organization towards its goals for 2018.

Conclusion

Communications planning can be overwhelming and stressful, but the tips above should help you in identifying factors you should consider when developing your plan.

I hope 2018 is your best year of communicating internally!

Author’s Note: Lisa Maxime is founder of Zemy Enterprises, a communications consulting firm providing sustainable, forward-thinking communications strategies and solutions to businesses looking to increase organizational performance and profitability. For more information on how Zemy can help your company engage, empower, and execute visit us at www.lisamaxime.com

Crisis Communications: Are You Prepared?

Strategies to help your company craft messages that manage crises

The expansion of the internet has made it easier than ever for consumers to engage with brands. Consumer engagement can come in the form of praises over a new product, service, or outstanding customer service. It can also be negative in nature — the wrong product or a bad customer experience. The latter usually receives the most attention.

Social media is usually the preferred choice of engagement and companies should be prepared to respond to engagement that could do damage to their brand’s reputation.

A timely response is essential. Long gone are the days brands are able to ignore negative comments and conduct business as usual. Consumers are paying close attention to how brands respond to negative chatter, particularly if that chatter relates to political, racial, or social issues.

The audience your brand serves doesn’t matter, your targeted audience expects you to respond in a manner consistent with your brand’s values.

The Institute for Public Relations defines a crisis as an event that poses significant threat to operations and can have negative consequences if not handled properly.

Is your company prepared to respond to a crisis? Do you have a crisis communication plan and team established?

If not, now is the time to assemble a crisis communication plan for your company. The question is not, if a crisis will occur … but when it will occur. A timely response is paramount. The longer it takes your brand to respond to a crisis event, the more damage your brand’s reputation endures.

Creating a crisis communication plan is not difficult, but it requires strategic planning and thought. To help you better manage the creation of the plan, let’s separate it into three phases: pre-crisis, mid-crisis, and post-crisis.

Each phase provides a few strategies to help you create and implement a crisis communication plan specific to your company’s mission and needs.

Pre-Crisis

  1. Identify Team Members: Meet with senior executives and identify members to serve on your company’s Crisis Communication Team (CCT). This team should consist of the company’s CEO and representatives from: public relations (PR), legal, and major divisions within the organization. This team should also include subject matter experts in the event that the response requires technical language. A crisis manager should also be identified, someone who will lead and organize events related to response from start to finish.Your legal representative should understand that “no comment” is not an acceptable answer during a crisis. It conveys guilt and suspicion to the public. They should work closely with the PR representative to approve language that adequately addresses the situation without compromising possible legal issues.
  2. Create Crises Scenarios: Plan brainstorming sessions with your CCT. Think of all the potential crises that could threat your brand’s reputation. Consider all the issues in society that could cause your consumer to engage with your brand outside of the products and services you provide to the market. These issues could be political, racial, societal, environmental, etc.Look at the current issues circulating and study how other brands have responded. Create a response to those issues based on your brands values and mission. Think of how the crisis event could affect other areas of your company and prepare a plan to mitigate damage to areas such as operations and personnel.An assessment checklist can serve as a framework for an efficient and effective response.
  3. Identify & Train Authorized Spokespersons: One or more persons should be identified and authorized to speak on the company’s behalf. This person should ideally be the CEO or a senior level executive. They should be pre-screened and trained to convey a clear and consistent message using multiple channels of communications.Identifying a spokesperson while in the line of fire could be a poor and costly decision.Ensure the spokespersons are professionally trained to speak to the media. You want to avoid your organization’s message being misconstrued or misinterpreted. Proper training will prepare your spokesperson to optimally deliver the message to all stakeholders.

Mid-Crisis

  1. Define Your Stakeholders: It is important to define those affected by the crises. It will help you craft a message that resonates with them and their concerns about the event. Your stakeholders are internal and external, don’t forget to address your internal stakeholder. They may have questions and concerns about how the event affects them on a professional level.
  2. Develop Talking Points: It will take time to develop a strategic response applicable to the crisis event. Talking points can be prepared in advance based on the scenarios developed during the pre-crisis phase.Your organization will save time and be able to respond quickly while a more in-depth message is developed. Remember time is a critical factor when responding to a crisis.Review your talking points often and determine if they require revision and/or creation of additional talking points for different scenarios.
  3. Prepare a Transparent and Thoughtful Response: Consumers are not expecting you to be perfect, however, they are expecting you to address their concerns and/or negative comments about your organization. Don’t ignore or cover up the issue, it makes the organization look like they don’t care about the customers.If you are not informed about the issue, be honest and ask for time to look into the issue and become informed. If you made a mistake, apologize, and outline a corrective action plan.Put thought and effort into your response. It shows that you care about the consumers’ concerns and you’re willing to go above and beyond to address the problem.A carefully constructed and thoughtful response builds trust and allows you to foster a nurturing relationship with your customers. Your customers will appreciate it and become champions for your brand.Word-of-mouth referrals are more powerful than your own brand messaging.

Post-Crisis

  1. Finalize Crisis-Specific Messaging: After disseminating your talking points, finalize messaging specific to crises for any given situation. By now, your team knows what type of information stakeholders require and what messaging your company wants to convey to the public. Be brief and simple, identify a few main messages for all stakeholders and more targeted messaging for individual groups of stakeholders.Don’t forget to plan for your social media platforms.
  2. Conduct an After-Crisis Analysis: What went wrong? What went right? What did we learn? How can we improve?Those are all questions that need to be asked and analyzed. Decide who will be a part of the after-crisis analysis and who will work on the items identified for improvement.

Final Thoughts

Crisis Communication planning is an on-going process of analyzing and improving.

Today’s consumer is progressively aware of the issues affecting the many areas of our lives. It is imperative that your organization identify issues that may possibly threaten your brand’s reputation.

The steps outlined above will help you begin to create a framework to mitigate any threats your brand could sustain to its reputation during a crisis.

There’s power in preparedness.

Author’s Note: Lisa Maxime is founder of Zemy Enterprises, a business consulting firm providing sustainable, forward-thinking marketing & communications strategies and solutions to small and mid-size businesses. For more information on how Zemy can help your company envision, execute, and engage visit us at www.lisamaxime.com

Meet Our Members: Uli Dendy

What’s your name, job, Twitter handle, etc.?
Ulrike Dendy, Uli for short, CEO of TrueLanguage LLC. @ulidendy

How long have you been an IABC Atlanta member?
TrueLanguage was invited to join IABC in 2012. I’ve gotten much more closely involved with the association in the last couple of years.

Why did you join and what has kept you with the association?
I joined because IABC’s vision and the vision of my company are in total alignment. IABC enables a global network of communicators working in diverse industries and disciplines to identify, share, and apply the world’s best communication practices. We facilitate communication across borders. As an active member, I value listening and learning from other communicators, and sharing our cultural and linguistic knowledge. We like to think we help emphasize the “I” in “IABC”!

What do you love most about communications?
Communication is never the same. The message is always different and every audience has different needs. How can we ensure that the message is understood? Should we use an eLearning environment, an infographic, a video component? What should it be for different cultures? Is it enough to offer the content in the local language or do we need to support the trainer with an interpreter? Every project is a dialogue – we communicate with the creator of the message, the linguist and the audience. Each new project that helps a client grow also lets us deepen our knowledge of various industries, and of how different cultures handle tricky language situations.

What do you see on the horizon for your line of work?
Technological solutions for collaboration and machine-assisted translation are enabling us to handle more content with faster turn-around times. However, the challenge of understanding the message and ensuring that it is localized without loss of meaning will remain the same. We’ll be able to think less about the logistics of translation, and give complete attention to perfecting the message in every language.

What is the strangest communication request you have ever received?
Atlanta’s growing status as a media/entertainment center has given us some cool projects with the video game and television fields. Our translators were really excited to work on material for tours of shooting locations for The Walking Dead! But the strangest? Once we were asked to verify that a certain word meant absolutely nothing… in every language. There are over 6000 living languages, so we had to scale it down quite a bit.

Tell us something your IABC colleagues might be surprised to learn about you?
They might be surprised to know that I was a dog obedience and agility trainer for 10 years and was very active in dog rescue. I don’t train dogs anymore, but I’m still supporting Georgia Jack Russell Rescue.

Books on your nightstand?
Right now, I’m re-reading Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. I’ve got a cool personal connection with this book: it’s based on real people, and the doctor in the story is based on the brother of someone I know.

Favorite Atlanta spot?
Sope Creek Park in Marietta is one of my favorite places to go, for hiking and biking. I also love going to Actors Express whenever I can. My daughter is a professional actress, it’s a fun way to support the arts!

Minimize “Social” for a More Effective Intranet

In Case You Missed It…

About the Author: Suzanne O’Brien works with organizations seeking stronger customer relationships to increase satisfaction, loyalty, and retention. Visit evergreenc.com.

Social. Engagement. Collaboration. Transparency. Intranet.

Chances are, you associate these terms with a sense of MORE content created by MORE people. But is that best for a business? During May’s IABC/Atlanta luncheon, we learned how one company has seen intranet success by shutting down mass content creation and instead curating a communications ecosystem.

Michele Shauf, Ph.D. is director of corporate learning at eVestment. With years of experience in organizational development and designing learning programs, she spearheaded a new approach to content and engagement for eVestment’s recent intranet revamp.

Shauf and team began by challenging the vague and contradictory premises that “internal social” is always better, and that without “social” internal communication is always top down – but also, companies should feel flat and informal. Instead, they acknowledged these realities:

  • Without social, communication can come from the center out rather than top down.
  • Conversations don’t need to go on and on. They can end. And that’s good!
  • More content isn’t better. More content is just noise; it undermines efforts.
  • Just because someone can type, doesn’t mean they can create effective content.

At the same time, they defined business objectives for eVestment’s intranet. These likely apply to your organization, too:

An intranet should…

  • Equip employees to be strong collaborators.
  • Increase productivity by reducing information foraging and [re]production.
  • Shrink geographic differences and reduce travel costs – and globalize thinking.
  • Establish two-way communication with associates, but only where appropriate.
  • Embed micro-particle learning everywhere so that employees constantly absorb small pieces of information.

eVestment designed their intranet to be a communication platform of curated content: a beautiful, carefully tended and walled garden, not a jungle.

So how did they do it? First, they built the intranet inside every employee’s existing workspace. At eVestment, employees spend the most time working in their customer relationship management (CRM) software – so that’s where the intranet was built.

Then they developed a content strategy that promotes cross-functional, global thinking. Each publication has an angle that reflects business priorities and business progress, buffering strategic foundations and providing a sense of accomplishment. Also, content is oriented to how it could be discussed with clients and in public.

eVestment minimized distraction in the intranet by limiting employee profile fields to those that are relevant to work, and providing templates and a “controlled vocabulary” of suggested terms. They also configured out most social interaction options, leaving only content ratings and subscriptions.

Finally, they took communications beyond the intranet and developed a full internal communications ecosystem. Channels include monthly town halls, a learning management system (LMS) for information that changes infrequently, and internal marketing – signage, a TV channel in the company gym, and a daily internal email summarizing the most important messages.

eVestment teams still use other communication tools like Confluence and JIRA, Salesforce Chatter, SharePoint, Skype, and email. But that’s for team-based work only. For the intranet, employees are served a carefully designed and managed set of relevant, timely and succinct information.


Luncheon attendees were gifted a copy of How to Measure Your Communication Programs, a manual by Angela D. Sinickas, ABC of Sinickas Communications. Thank you for this valuable resource!

In Case You Missed It…

10 requirements for email marketing success

About the Author: Suzanne O’Brien works with organizations seeking stronger customer relationships to increase satisfaction, loyalty, and retention. Visit evergreenc.com.

April’s IABC/Atlanta luncheon kicked off with attention-grabbing facts about email:

  • 4.6 billion email accounts exist
  • 91% of consumers check email daily
  • 72% of consumers prefer email as their primary source of business communication
  • The return on investment for email is the highest among all forms of marketing tactics

First takeaway: as business communicators, exercising a strong email game is essential to effective marketing strategy and execution.

Then presenter Sharon Swendner of CRM Concepts opened the playbook, sharing ten Dos and Don’ts of Email Marketing: concepts and tools to ensure that email is an integral and effective part of marketing communications strategies.

Deliverability

If the email doesn’t arrive, neither does your message. Learn your email service provider (ESP)’s definitions of deliverability vocabulary so that you can accurately evaluate the success of your email campaigns. Work with your ESP to implement strategies to increase deliverability, targeting 95% or higher.

Timing and Frequency

“People want to consume content if it’s good quality content,” said Swendner. Create a customer journey map of when your customers or target customers receive and interact with email. Send your communications at those times. Use customer data to target communications when it’s time to renew or re-purchase. Or ask the customer to tell you how often they want to hear from you, and segment your communications based on that preference.

Email Sign Up

Ask customers and website visitors “early and often” to opt in to your emails. Display the sign-up call to action prominently in your website. Make it easy – minimize the information you request, but be sure to ask for the first name so that you can personalize your emails.

Unsubscribe

The federal CAN-SPAM Act requires that commercial emails include an easy way to unsubscribe. Best practice is a link in each email that unsubscribes with one click.

Personalization

Increase open rates by personalizing emails with recipient-specific content from the user database in your ESP. One study found that just putting the recipient’s name in the subject line increased campaign open rates increased by 29%. Get creative! Insert the date of their last purchase, product- or service-specific renewal reminders, or suggest a next purchase based on what the recipient has purchased before.

From Field

An email’s “from” section has two parts: the name and the email address. The CAN-SPAM Act requires that the domain name (company.com) and name are accurate to your organization and the group or person within your organization from which it’s being sent. For example, a sales email cannot come from support@company.com. Make the from name and email address short, personal, and specific.

Testing

Try out different scenarios of an email to determine which best support achievement of your goals. First determine which elements you want to test: for example, content, personalization, formatting, buttons, words, titles, colors, positioning. Establish baseline metrics based on past campaigns (or an initial test send), along with a testing calendar. Then send different versions to different groups of recipients. Learn which scenarios best support your goals.

Data Quality

Plan and document your email campaign data strategy. Carefully review the data fields in your ESP and audit them regularly. Gather results data on a set schedule.

Integration

As mentioned earlier, email must be integrated into your overall marketing campaign. How does email fit into the customer journey? How should we use email to send recipients to other places? Use integrated marketing tools to view email results across your marketing ecosystem.

Metrics

Success is only a feeling unless it’s measured. Document baseline metrics as you’re identifying your current state. Build key performance indicators (KPIs) based on the campaign’s purpose and goals. Then measure relentlessly. Use the metrics you gather to analyze and predict activity and modify the campaign as it’s in progress to drive greater success.

Strategy

The last point is simple but integral: email must be part of your marketing ecosystem, and it must be balanced with your social platforms. Incorporate the above points into your strategy as well, and reap the benefits of email marketing.

___

After sharing these points with plenty of detail and examples, Sharon brought it home by providing real-time feedback on several participants’ actual emails. CRM Concepts offers marketing strategy, digital marketing, CRM management, and more. Learn more at crm-concepts.com.


Thank you to IABC/Atlanta member Swift Incentives for sponsoring the luncheon.