The list goes on…

4 Jul

Warning – not for those with short attention spans – this one’s a long one!

As some of you will know, I entered the blogosphere around a month ago as I was really excited about what social media could bring to our industry – both from a consumer and an employee perspective. Having been in internal comms for years and using fairly traditional means and media to communicate, I thought it time to bring things up to date and venture into the world of more dynamic and interactive ways of communicating – so that it’s more about conversation than broadcast. I wanted to bring this alive in the workplace and explore the best ways of doing this.

Now, before I continue (and to answer one of my blog critics), I want to point out that my company is not way behind on this – in fact, we’ve already implemented a whole host of digital and two-way comms tools. I just wanted to explore how far we could and should go and to hear about what other people are successfully doing.

So, what have I learnt along the way…

In my blog Born again digital, I talked about stunning myself as to how digital I am in my day to day life outside of work – regularly using twitter, facebook, YouTube, wikis, etc etc. I also realised that most of my mates are doing the same. So, why not bring this into the workplace – I wasn’t born digital, but that hasn’t stopped me from getting involved.

In You’re getting on my wiki, I talked about how humanising the leadership through blogs and the like, has had a direct impact on trust in the leadership team. We’ve got several leaders blogging regularly, creating a real pied piper effect all over the country. We’ve also recently started up ‘the people’s blog’ which means we’ve got various employees blogging about a whole variety of topics – from the great ‘bring back the Wispa’ campaign to ‘training in preparation for the London triathlon’. I also spoke about how ‘including’ people and allowing people to ‘have their say’, makes a huge difference to engagement. Wikis are a great way of bringing people together – allowing them to create definitions, pool project information and so on – something they’ve all agreed collaboratively.

In Stop! Twitter time, I looked at the classic “I don’t have the time” issue with social media – people saying they don’t have time to twitter, read blogs and so on. My conclusions here are that it’s more about your mindset – you either naturally get involved, or you don’t. The naturals tend to immediately see the benefit of these additional comms methods and love having the choice about how to receive or look for information. The not so naturals, don’t immediately see the benefits and take time in adopting. Again, it’s their choice and I realise that “the one size fits all” approach is definitely NOT the route to take. It MUST be about choice.

And, in Life begins at…, I looked at “ageism in cyberspace” – or not as I found. I spoke about how my mother has recently ‘got digital’ and has started to blog (check out My father’s return and L’invasion). She’s posted a couple of updates now and I’d urge you all to take a look. Anyway, my realisation here is that anyone of any age and any skillset can and will get involved if they want to. If the benefits to them are strong enough, then anyone will take to it like a duck to water.

These are my key learnings – I’ve plenty more and I know I’ve simply scratched the surface. But, these were the important issues to me – the things I really wanted to explore so that I could make sure we took the right approach in the workplace.

Before I get to my list, I thought it important to outline what I’m trying to achieve in the workplace in terms of internal communications. I thought it might help if I shared our internal comms vision and charter that we’ve recently launched. There are 10 points in the charter, 4 of which particularly relate to the channels we’re developing.

Our internal comms vision
Making this a place where people love to work with open, timely, involving and engaging two-way comms

Our internal comms charter – the first six
1. We’ll lead by example while working and playing together to become a world class communications team
2. We’ll always aim to let you know stuff before anyone else – and, we’ll always give it to you straight
3. Stuffiness out, human in! We’ll keep our communications simple, human and honest, injecting a bit of excitement and fun whenever we can
4. We’ll make our proposition sparkle and give our people all the info they need to delight our customers – creating internal product advocates along the way
5. We’ll make the techy stuff engaging, making sure everyone’s got the right stuff to do their jobs while creating a sense of community for all
6. We’ll always bear everyone in mind and won’t just take the easy option by only communicating with those that are easy to reach

The remaining four which relate most closely to our channels:
7. We’ll create an open and people friendly comms environment where people always have the opportunity to comment, respond and ask questions
8. We’ll make sure we’ve got the right comms channels so everyone gets the right information at the right time and in the right way
9. We’ll always be looking at new and exciting ways to communicate while making sure our existing stuff is running smoothly
10. We’ll always check that things are hitting the spot by measuring everything we do
You’ll see from the final four about our focus on creating conversations with our people; getting the appropriate channels in place so that people get what they want, when they want it; about keeping things exciting while making sure the traditional methods are running smoothly; and, very importantly, making sure we’re measuring the effectiveness of everything we do.

Sooooo, taking all the learnings into account while also staying close to our vision and charter, here’s what we’re looking to do…

The list
So, here’s the list of stuff we’re going to follow up on. Please do note that we’re not at all ignoring existing, traditional methods – these will continue to be measured and developed – everything from face to face events, email, newsletters, mags and so on. The list shows the new stuff we’ll be looking at…

In the next few months…
Forums – we’re going to be relaunching online forums. We did have them a while ago but the functionality just wasn’t right and our people didn’t quite ‘get’ how to make the most of them. Our shiny new forums will be introduced gradually, focussing initially on those hot topics that people are dying to discuss – whether it be issues they face on a daily basis, or new products coming down the line. A fantastic way for us to openly share ideas and plans while getting invaluable feedback.

RSS & intranet redesign – in a survey I carried out on my social network along with chatting to friends and colleagues, many people can’t live without RSS feeds. People want specific information at their fingertips and don’t have the time, nor inclination in many cases, to go looking for it. So, we’re introducing RSS feeds as well as redesigning our intranet so it’s a lot more user friendly.

Micro-blogging – Twitter is being used by loads of people at work and people are finding it to be incredibly useful for staying in touch. So, we’re doing a couple of trials to see the various uses for this. Once we know the results of the trials, we’re hoping for full implementation.

Blogs – we’re going to continue to build functionality on what’s been a very successful 9 months of blogging. We’re also looking at ways of opening this up to the rest of the organisation by trialling with a few ‘people’s blogs’.

Web chats – these have been up and running for years now but we’re continuing to tweak and add functionality to bring things more up to date.

Wikis – we’ve got a few on the go already and we want to carry out some more trial work. But, in the future, this is something we’re definitely going to open up to everyone.

Qualitative measurement – so far, we’ve done loads of work to measure usage of our channels. What we want to do a lot more of is measure the quality of the content. So, we’re introducing a whole host of things like ‘rate this page’, user generated content and so on.

Mobile technology – we’re looking at loads more ways of using mobile technology. We’re already using it but want to look at exciting new ways of two-way communication with our more remote workers.

And, sometime next year…

Podcasting – we’ll shortly be looking at some trials for this. A big problem for this is the diverse and dispersed nature of our workforce – and technology restrictions eg. many of our people don’t have sound cards for example. We’ll be looking at implementing digital pods in our centres where people can go for all their digital needs. A bit more work to do on this, but plans are starting to look really exciting.

Video messaging – with our own TV platform, we’re looking at ways of setting up channels we can use to communicate with our people – for their eyes only. In my mind, this will be one of the biggest winners of all.

Social network – definitely something we want to introduce – with 20,000+ people scattered across the country and overseas, there’s huge potential of bring the organisation together through a social network.

And the list goes on – I couldn’t possibly list all the other things we’re looking at as the list is endless.

I hope my social experiment has been at least of some interest to you. I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas.

And, for me, it’s been a fantastic way to carry out my research. And, I’m very happy to say that I’m hooked on blogging. So, I’m going to carry on – probably not so focussed on one subject and quite possibly venturing into some of my pet subjects like formula 1 and football, with the odd internal comms piece in between.

Thanks again for all of your support. I’ll keep you posted on my next blog – or, you could always set me up as an RSS feed 🙂

Abi

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