Internal communications: Leveraging social media to make the workplace safer
In a mining operation, where work is done on a giant scale and often underground, nothing matters more than safety. Solid policies, programs and practices are the foundation of this work, but a safe workplace fundamentally relies on the commitment of the workforce.
In early 2018, the company was doing a laudable job communicating the vital importance of safety. Awareness was high, and employees gave leadership consistently high marks. But when the company challenged its leaders deliver a step change in their safety performance, I designed a communications program that would engage not just employees’ minds, but also capture their hearts.
The answer was #MyWhy. An innovative, social media campaign built on the Yammer platform, #MyWhy asked employees to share photos and videos of their reasons for staying safe, be it family, a beloved hobby or a life goal.
During the six-week contest, hundreds of employees shared their “why” stories to the online group, which was previously a repository of safety policies and procedures.
The initiative drove a 620 percent increase in overall activity and a 400 percent increase in engagement. While the campaign was designed for a single business unit, #MyWhy became the number one topic across the entire company’s network. The campaign has since been replicated across Rio Tinto.
Leadership: Building a high-functioning global team
In 2016, when an international business launched a far-reaching initiative to better support its global operations, I built, developed and led a team that became a model for the entire business.
The change process involved the consolidation of two disparate pieces of a business with operations scattered across Australia, Canada and the United States. In addition, team members formerly assigned to these operations were combined into a single Communities & Communications team.
In a few short months, I gained an understanding of the widely varying approaches of each team and of their key projects, initiatives, structure, talent, partnerships and relationships. I explored the perceptions of internal and external stakeholders and worked with team members to understand their roles, strengths, weaknesses and wants and needs.
Working with global leaders and organizational experts, I designed the team, ensuring strong leadership and an efficient, effective and consistent structure across the organization. I created and implemented a team development plan, including cross-functional meetings and workshops, team building and best-practice sharing.
The result was a cohesive, connected and capable team that consistently delivered strong results, including a best in class social investment strategy, dramatically improved achievement of community outreach goals, and consistently positive reviews and rankings from internal customers
Reputation management: Building awareness and shifting public perception
In 2015 I took on the role of chair of the Internal Copper Association’s (ICA)/Copper Alliance Communications Committee, leading a global initiative to educate the public about copper’s vital contribution to society, and to shift perceptions of the industry as a whole.
Research demonstrated that among the general population, there was little understanding of the red metal’s many significant benefits.
Working with the ICA and other member companies, Jennifer helped shape a holistic reputation campaign, “Copper Makes the World Work Better.”
The campaign was built around compelling, fact-based messages that proved this notion and included high-impact videos highlighting copper’s contribution to energy efficiency -- including climate change mitigation – supported with supplemental materials such as backgrounders, infographics, photography and print advertising.
These materials, combined with “how-to” communications and consultation, empowered ICA’s members with compelling messages about how copper and the copper industry are making positive contributions to many of society’s greatest challenges, and how copper is critical to sustainable development.
Media relations: Generating visibility and goodwill
While purveyors of diamonds – DeBeers, Cartier and Tiffany & Company -- are household names, diamond producers often go largely unnoticed.
In support of diamonds sales and the company’s reputation, my team designed and executed an initiative targeted at global media outlets and aimed at raising awareness of the high-quality diamonds produced by the company, as well as its commitment to sustainable practices.
The approach included identifying media-worthy programs, events and partnerships and pitching these stories to respected outlets read and viewed by the company’s top-tier stakeholders.
To demonstrate the exceptional quality of the company’s diamonds, the team managed public engagements, speaking opportunities and media outreach surrounding the sale of 58 rare pink, red and violet diamonds to collectors around the world.
The campaign generated coverage in global outlets such as ABC News, Rapaport, CNN and the Australian Financial Review. Sales of the collection grew by double digits over the previous year with the premier lot becoming the most valuable diamond in the tender’s 33-year history. In addition to increasing sales, the initiative effectively communicated to investors the company’s ongoing commitment to its diamonds business.
Leadership communications: Engaging internal and external stakeholders.
As part of a far-ranging initiative to engage mid-level leaders and frontline employees in helping to deliver a new corporate strategy, in 2017 I developed and executed the business’s first leadership communications strategy.
Because frontline employees – and many managers – spent their days working in the field, reaching them with compelling communications was challenging. In response, I deigned and led a team in executing on-site Town Halls hosted by senior leadership, a company-wide recognition program, communication training for “critical middle” leaders, and quarterly leadership calls, messaging and tools to support leaders at all levels in communicating with their teams.
Following implementation of the plan, an all-employee survey measured strong awareness and understanding of new strategy. Employee engagement was also high, with the majority of employees saying they understood the role they played in delivering the strategy and felt good about their contribution to it.
On the external front, I created a plan to increase awareness of the strategy, build stakeholder confidence in the direction of the business, and establish the newly named CEO as a thought leader.
This work included crafting the CEO’s “brand” and message platform, as well as researching high-impact external engagements. In partnership with business leaders and content experts, Jennifer crafted speeches, presentations and media briefing papers and supported executives’ participation in conferences, interviews and media events. As a result, the CEO went from being largely unknown to an established expert in the industry.