The Modern Way to Extend Your Company Culture


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With employees in multiple locations, maintaining a collaborative company culture is a matter of being able to easily and effectively bring people together online. Web conferencing helps you bring people together online. Read on for tips on how to keep your workforce engaged with the company.

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The Modern Way to Extend Your Company Culture

  1. 1. The Modern Way to Extend Your Company Culture
  2. 2. QLM | Bob Hanson | 617-901-6886 | The Modern Way to Extend Your Company Culture 2 Executive Summary Professional communicators, like human resources and internal communications professionals, have started embracing the ease and effectiveness of social and virtual media to keep their employees connected and informed. And it makes sense that they have done so, considering the average person consumes on average 100,500 words per day according to a recent study out of the University of California San Diego,1 and that’s just outside of work. As traditional methods of communication, like in-person events, lose favor, organizations need to leverage digital and social media to inform and connect with their employees, yet many of today’s company leaders, executive assistants, and HR managers are accustomed to planning in- person events for their employees. Thanks to modern technology, in-person events, and the travel and costs that go along with them, are no longer necessary as often as they used to be. Web conferencing and private social networks for companies are better keeping employees in the know on a day-to-day basis. Whether you want to develop an internal messaging strategy, better inform employees through email, social media or online conferences, or simply want to communicate with teams that are rarely in the same physical location at the same time, your organization can cut through the information and media clutter for a more informed, connected culture. This eBook, The Modern Way to Extend Your Company Culture, will help you answer key questions including: • How are employees consuming information today, and how can organizations leverage that knowledge to really reach them? • How can you create excitement around major company events, or get through tough times without losing your best employees? • What are 5 specific steps to create a winning internal communication strategy? • How can you develop, run, and measure internal communications campaigns in today’s social economy? • What are some common mistakes to avoid and what tactics have benefitted other organizations? • What’s working now for leading organizations who are effectively communicating with their employees with today’s dispersed workforce? 1 How Much Information? 2009 Report on American Consumers, UCSD, Global Information Industry Center study.
  3. 3. QLM | Bob Hanson | 617-901-6886 | The Modern Way to Extend Your Company Culture 3 Let’s begin with a snapshot of key communications trends today and what they mean for internal communications plans. Employee Communication in a Digital, Dispersed World Today’s workers are assailed with information both inside and outside of work. Surveys show that media usage continues to rise, and your employees and stakeholders might be connected 24/7. Consider the following trends in how workers consume information and spend their time: • Osterman Research estimates that in a typical day, the average information worker spends 149 minutes sending and receiving email. And on average, the typical worker receives 80 and sends 30 emails per day. • Virtually every knowledge worker has a smartphone like a Blackberry or iPhone. Strategy Analytics estimated that 1 billion smartphones are in use worldwide as of the third quarter of 2012, with that number projected to double by 2015. And Pew Research center recently estimated that 31% of adults own a tablet computer. • Pew Research Center also recently found that 67% of adults are actively using social networking sites, and 83% of those in the 18-29 age bracket are active social media participants. • The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated in 2012 that 24 percent of employed Americans reported that they work at least some hours at home each week. These trends aren’t predicted to fade fast, so the first step to mastering communications is to understand that you are better off surfing a wave rather than fighting the current and swimming upstream. In other words, companies are wise to start using the communication channels that employees like and use, if they want engagement from employees. In light of these facts, here are four insights to help you get through to your employees now: 1. Don’t make the mistake of thinking of digital and social media communications as simply a generational trend. Most of your employees use social media to consume information and most are consuming more information than ever before, which means that your message has more competition than it ever has. 2. With a limited opening for “mind-share,” clarify your message into an elevator pitch which can be summarized in short sentences and brief paragraphs. Or consider
  4. 4. QLM | Bob Hanson | 617-901-6886 | The Modern Way to Extend Your Company Culture 4 outlining the major message and supporting points or themes so they are sharp and evident and can be translated into a communications plan. 3. One of the biggest mistakes we make is assuming that others will put in the effort to translate features to benefits. Your communications plan will be much more effective if you make that translation for your employees, co-workers, or stakeholders. For example, sales people may need to have explained the key benefits for their customers of a new product. Employees may need to know the reasons behind a major corporate change, merger or layoff and how the company or their jobs might get better because of it. Employees may need to know the benefits of a new corporate policy or training. Upper management may need the business case for your department’s new initiative spelled out for them. 4. To break through the information clutter, put on your marketing hat and think multi- media, multi-step communications plans. Knowing your “audience” will help you prioritize your media choices and utilize the ones that have the most reach and impact. With our digital revelation firmly entrenched and social communications ever-growing, how do you master the art of communicating to internal stakeholders and employees? Read on for keys to success plus a repeatable process that leading organizations are finding works today. 5 Steps to Creating a Winning Internal Communications Strategy To keep your employees connected and engaged, they need to be informed. Whether you’re tasked with team, department or company-wide communications, you need a plan to make sure your employees will pay attention to and absorb the content. Here are 5 steps to creating a winning internal communications strategy. 1. Establish the communications goals for your campaign. As the saying goes, “begin with the end in mind.” One of my former business partners, a master at internal and external corporate communications, uses an incisive question before engaging in any communications initiative, “What will have changed after the program?” Start by establishing your communications goals so you know how successful you are when your campaign is complete. When defining your success benchmarks, one may be defining key stakeholders and communicating a well-articulated message to them with the objective of gaining buy-in. Chances are, though, that you will be able to accomplish more.
  5. 5. QLM | Bob Hanson | 617-901-6886 | The Modern Way to Extend Your Company Culture 5 Great communication plans take into account the media that your employees or audience consume and times communications there for maximum impact. You may be able, for example, to leverage those key stakeholders to become ambassadors of your message to other constituents. You could also measure your campaign by getting your message out to your constituents multiple times in multiple media, and then ask for feedback in open forums, through formal surveys, through informal water cooler conversations and from feedback from peers or direct reports. Monitor the number of times your content has been shared to help gauge the success of your campaign. You must have a way of measuring the progress of your campaign, the resources necessary to be successful, and a time by which the campaign will be complete. Good questions to ask when establishing your communications goals include: – When we are done with this communications campaign, how will we measure success? – What available resources do we have or need to accomplish our goals? – What individuals can be champions for our cause or ambassadors for change? – What is the time frame to achieve success with the campaign? 2. Develop the plan for your campaign. All too many communication initiatives begin with great promise but stumble in the execution. This is true for both internal and external communications campaigns. Developing your campaign plan in a thoughtful manner and engaging in follow-through on the project details will often separate the winning initiatives from those that fall short of their objectives. A communications calendar with dates of key communications milestones is a start. Assigning resources and project responsibilities will take you further towards your goals. A good communications plan will take into account the media that your employees or audience consume, and it will time communications for maximum impact. So if you find that your employees spend a lot of time on the company social media site between noon and 1 p.m., it would serve your communications plan to post the information you want your employees to read there at that time. Good questions to ask when developing your campaign plans include: – How do our employees and internal stakeholders consume information? – What media and communications channels will be most effective at getting our message across? – What is the time frame for each element of the plan?
  6. 6. QLM | Bob Hanson | 617-901-6886 | The Modern Way to Extend Your Company Culture 6 – Who will be responsible for each phase of the overall initiative? 3. Create your messaging and presentations. Stories have the power to motivate, inspire, and educate. When creating your messaging and presentations, start with the key theme or themes you want to impart, and incorporate dramatic visuals, video, and stories to produce memorable takeaways. For example, one CEO I worked with, who had “been through the wars” in his industry, would always include a riveting story from his experience to fortify the main point of his presentation to the employees. For communications at events, consider developing and promoting a theme for the meeting or presentation, and emphasize at least 3 benefits of attending. Also, lean on the elevator pitch or key messages that you outlined as part of your goal planning to create the specific communications appropriate for the channels selected. Don’t forget to call your audience to action in presentations and in writing. That can be as simple as emphasizing attendance at an all-company meeting, or asking a question to think about after a presentation. Good questions to ask when creating messaging and presentations include: – What are the key messages to feature in our communications? – What stories, examples, and analogies can be used to make key points memorable? – What will be the call to action or next step from a communication, meeting or presentations? 4. Run your campaigns and leverage technologies. Detailed planning and assignment of responsibilities will help you make sure your campaigns go smoothly. However, countless campaigns fall down because a well-conceived schedule was not followed. Don’t make this mistake as it can dramatically lessen the impact of your communications. An important consideration in the planning of your campaigns is what technologies you’ll use to share the information. For smaller announcements and day-to-day updates, you may use internal social networks, intranet and email. For larger announcements and gatherings, it depends on where your employees are. If everyone is in the same building or city, an in-person meeting is the first choice. But if geography keeps people apart, webinars and online meetings with video are affordable and effective alternatives to meeting in person. When you need feedback from employees, use live webinars with Q&A and chat panels and online survey programs to gather data.
  7. 7. QLM | Bob Hanson | 617-901-6886 | The Modern Way to Extend Your Company Culture 7 Good questions to ask when running your campaigns include: – What technologies will we use to help connect, collaborate, and comment? – How will our campaigns introduce and reinforce our messaging over time? – How can we best incorporate our key messages in each and every campaign? – What tactics will be used to mobilize our constituents? – What visuals or videos will capture the imagery we want to depict? 5. Measure success and re-energize your plans. Your communications campaign will have a beginning, middle, and an end. Because there are likely to be many moving parts and diverse people involved in most campaigns, it’s possible that some goals will be unchecked at the end of the campaign timeline. This is why keeping track of goals is necessary: so you can evaluate what you set out do versus what you accomplished and make changes to the next iteration of communications plans to hopefully improve performance. It is important to review and analyze results in a constructive way with your teams so that the next campaign will be better than the last. Former U.S. Secretary of State, Colin Powell in his military and diplomatic career called on a “squeeze test” after a campaign. He would wring all the lessons out of his successes and failures just as you would squeeze all the juice from an orange or lemon. Be sure to set aside time with your team to discuss the learnings and jot down recommendations for the future. Good questions to ask when measuring success and re-energizing your plans include: – Did we achieve what we started out to accomplish with our communications initiative? – What worked and what did not – both in the strategies and in the tactical implementation? – What do we still have to accomplish with our communications? – What lessons learned can we apply to the next phase and how can we re-energize our plans? Now that you have a repeatable process for your communications plans, let’s examine some of the technologies that will help you go beyond individual meetings and group presentations.
  8. 8. QLM | Bob Hanson | 617-901-6886 | The Modern Way to Extend Your Company Culture 8 How to Leverage Today’s Communications Tools If you’re like most people today, you’re wondering how technology can help you get your job done faster and easier. The way people communicate and the technologies they use outside of work eventually extend into the workplace, so it’s no surprise that private social networks and online conferences are now being used professionally to keep companies connected. You don’t have to be an information technology worker to leverage today’s communications tools. They are often available on demand, in the cloud, and affordable to a department or an entire organization. Here are a few of the key technology tools to consider to help you save time, get your message out, and reach your intended audience using the communications channels they are using today. Online Surveys – Organizations of all types and sizes have embraced online surveys for research, product feedback, internal improvement, and tracking of employee morale or satisfaction. Surveys can be used at the start and end of a communications initiative to understand the key issues your constituents care about, or benchmark their level of understanding which you will retest after the campaign. Survey and testing technologies are also often included in online meeting platforms and can be leveraged for compliance testing or post-event feedback. Private social workspaces – These platforms act like Facebook and LinkedIn but are only accessible to employees, making company-wide communications as easy as posting a status update. With file storage and secure access, private workspaces are a great alternative to intranet. Online meetings and webinars – A recent QLM survey revealed organizations spent 7 times more resources to complete an in-person training event versus the same event online. Webinars are one-to-many virtual events delivered online for training and communications purposes. They have changed the way organizations educate and train employees and customers so that any business or organization can create a training or communications program to enhance or replace an in-person event program. You can use live webcams to replicate the face-to-face experience, and you can record the sessions for archiving and review by people who couldn’t attend the event. External social media – Social media technologies like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn have been broadly adopted for personal and marketing uses, but largely ignored for internal communications programs. The mistake here is that employees and other internal stakeholders are also consumers of an organization’s social media presence. For example, Osterman Research estimates knowledge workers spend 10 minutes a day at work with Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, so consider sharing non-sensitive information on external social media for your employees to engage in.
  9. 9. QLM | Bob Hanson | 617-901-6886 | The Modern Way to Extend Your Company Culture 9 Email – While email may seem like an older technology, it is as popular as ever for core communications and will likely be at the heart of a communications plan. For example, Osterman Research summarizes its 2013 survey on usage of email in the organization with, “Despite the availability of alternative forms of communications, 90% of information workers are using email as much or more than they were 12 months ago.”2 Email can be used for such communications as getting your message out there and also inviting people to events. There are many more technology options and access points than even 10 years ago. The proliferation of mobile and tablet devices mean your constituents are connected while on the road or at home, and you must consider reaching them on these devices with your communications. Successfully running your internal communications campaign Even for marketing or communications professionals, creating and running a successful communications campaign can be a challenge. Educating a workforce, changing perceptions, or leading a group through change all while breaking through today’s information clutter require a thoughtful, well-managed communications plan. To position your internal communications efforts for success, consider the SMART acronym: Specific – Are your action plans specific enough to lead to effective action? Measureable – Are you goals measurable? How will you measure success? Attainable- Are results attainable with the given resources? Resources – What resources are needed for success? What resources are available? Timed – How much time is available, both on the calendar and with the individuals involved? This simple and memorable acronym can help identify weaknesses in your strategy and answering these questions well can help guide a winning communications plan. When establishing your communications campaign think SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Resources, and Timed. 2 Results of a Survey With Email Users, Osterman Research, 2013.
  10. 10. QLM | Bob Hanson | 617-901-6886 | The Modern Way to Extend Your Company Culture 10 Changing Perceptions and Measuring Success The success of communications campaigns can be harder to judge than a direct response or social marketing campaign where sales or new social followers can be easily tracked. But, you must endeavor to measure success in multiple ways. Here are five common ways to measure the success of your internal communications campaigns. 1. Tracking surveys – Many organizations run periodic, tracking surveys to gauge employee morale and satisfaction. These are especially helpful when major organizational changes take place or times get tough. They can be used before a major communications campaign to set a benchmark so that you will survey on the immediate impact of the campaign after its completion. 2. Event attendance or views and attention – One way of measuring an event or its online recording is to track attendance or views, participation or attention through the event, and whether participants stay through its conclusion. Getting in front of your audience for your entire presentation can be half the communications challenge. 3. Informal feedback and comments – Comments can be made through a web conferencing technology or in person through informal and formal presentations and conversations. Keep in mind that unsolicited comments that come from a vocal minority of a few might be but a small sample and not representative of the group. 4. Tests or exit surveys – Especially if your communications initiative is geared to education around issues like compliance or policies, you may require each participant to meet a minimum standard through post-education testing. Consider automating the testing process and using online surveys through either your web conferencing tool or a separate survey application. 5. Changed behavior – A communications initiative usually requires or encourages some change in behavior or action as a result of this new information. Depending on the action requested, consider establishing measurement points to understand how effective you have been in driving the desired behavior. You have likely heard the truism, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure,” so use multiple feedback points before, during, and after your communications initiative to get a rich picture of the success of the individual touch-points and the overall communications campaign.
  11. 11. QLM | Bob Hanson | 617-901-6886 | The Modern Way to Extend Your Company Culture 11 Summary and Next Steps The data is in and it points to more media usage and competition for the attention of employees today, and well into the future. Therefore, the key for any internal communications initiative is to recognize how best to get through to employees. Here are some key recommendations for any executive or individual contributor to get better results from your next communications initiative. Create and sharpen your message – think elevator pitch. Key communicators must know the core message and its supporting benefits or points. Borrow from conversational marketing and think in terms of an Elevator Pitch, the summary sentence or paragraphs that can be given in the time it takes to ride an elevator with a member of your target audience. Define success and the call-to-action. Two simple and related steps to consider before you get started: Understand how you will measure success after you are finished with the campaign, and what change in behavior you are asking for so that can be built into the communications strategy. Let constituents drive media choices and communication channels. Even great communicators favor certain media or communications channels. That can create a communications bias and mean you fail to reach your audience or constituents in the ways they consume and act on information. Letting you audience drive your media plan is a sure way to advance your own agenda. Make each communication count. If only some communications contain relevant and important information, attendees may start to tune out all of the communications. The lesson here is to present only the relevant and important information.
  12. 12. QLM | Bob Hanson | 617-901-6886 | The Modern Way to Extend Your Company Culture 12 About the Author Bob Hanson is the president of marketing and communications consultancy Quantum Leap Marketing and creator of the Must-See Webinars™ success system. Over a 20 year career, he has created hundreds of communications plans and executive presentations for internal and external purposes and also published a recent eBook with Citrix Systems, “The ROI of Online Events.” To get a copy this eBook, or request a no-obligation consultation on creating successful communications campaign, email Bob at, call 617-901-6886, or go to About Sponsors Webinars made easy.™ Citrix GoToWebinar is the easiest-to-use do-it-yourself event tool that projects your message to up to 1,000 online attendees. With GoToWebinar, you can reduce travel costs, generate more qualified leads at a lower cost and enhance communication with customers, prospects and employees. Host unlimited webinars for one low flat fee and give attendees the option to join from a Mac, PC or mobile device. GoToWebinar Premier Event is also available to provide custom-built solutions for thousands of attendees and available with video streaming. Work the way you want to. Podio’s all-in-one collaborative work platform puts people in control of their work tools. Podio helps teams achieve more together by uniting people, business apps, content, tasks and communications in a secure social environment. Never before has it been easier to get your work done without email overload or document chaos. On Podio, your team and your work are all in one place that’s accessible on any device, so you can get work done anywhere. Podio removes silos across disparate business and social applications and empowers users to create work apps to get their jobs done or simply connect their favorite services to Podio, without any IT-skills. Leave behind email, documents, spreadsheets and application silos – move to activity streams and custom-made work apps to bring business context, efficiency and a new social experience to everything you’re team is working on. Podio is now part of Citrix.
  13. 13. QLM | Bob Hanson | 617-901-6886 | The Modern Way to Extend Your Company Culture 13 Citrix ShareFile provides software that helps businesses exchange files easily, securely and professionally. Designed specifically for business users, ShareFile offers total security for data transfer and storage, customized usage and branding solutions, award-winning customer service, and mobile apps and tools that allow users to easily access and share files from any device — anytime, anywhere. To learn more about secure, password-protected file sharing, visit © 2013 Quantum Leap Marketing, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced in any form by any means, nor may it be distributed without the permission of Quantum Leap Marketing, Inc., nor may it be resold by any entity other than Quantum Leap Marketing, Inc., without the prior written authorization of Quantum Leap Marketing, Inc. THIS DOCUMENT IS PROVIDED “AS IS.” ALL EXPRESS OR IMPLIED REPRESENTATIONS, CONDITIONS AND WARRANTIES, INCLUDING ANY IMPLIED WARRANTY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, ARE DISCLAIMED, EXCEPT TO THE EXTENT THAT SUCH DISCLAIMERS ARE DETERMINED TO BE ILLEGAL.