Attendees of the Nov. 15-16 CorpComm Expo (CCE) at Navy Pier in Chicago heard communication tips and updates from communication pros, and saw the latest software and hardware for interactive content solutions.
CCE is the world’s first and only conference and trade show exclusively dedicated to showcasing digital communications technology and education that specifically serve the needs of corporate professionals.
Two educational sessions that I attended were a case study on an internal branding campaign at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and a panel discussion regarding best practices for internal marketing and growth of an internal media department. I’ll highlight a third conference presentation in a separate post.
The case study was presented by former IABC Chicago Board Member Kelly Hipchen, who now serves as a Communications Officer at the Gates Foundation. Hipchen provided background and detail of a brand ambassadorship (advocacy) initiative that her team launched at the foundation.
The foundation leadership saw a need to redefine and refocus its “story” so that its 1,400 employees and “foundation alumni” across the globe could better share its core mission and accomplishments.
One learning from the branding initiative that Hipchen pointed out was that leadership had to work with employees to let the meaning of “keeping humble” evolve. The leadership team believed early on that the foundation’s work wasn’t supposed to bring glory to the foundation, she said. But she and other communication professionals were able to explain that “being humble doesn’t necessarily mean being silent” about accomplishments made from the grants originating from the Gates Foundation.
The best practices panel included Jeff Boarini, former creative director at McDonald’s Creative Services; Chris Barry, senior director/Group creative director at Best Buy’s Yellow Tag Productions department; and David Leonard, WorldBank division manager of printing and multimedia services.
Boarini was part of a downsizing at McDonald’s, in which he ended up training people from the outside company that McDonald’s hired.
In light of a Forbes article I read titled, “No—I won’t Train the Intern to Replace Me,” I asked what benefit he found in staying there and training his replacements. Boarini said, he has maintained professional bridges with former associates, and he recommended that anyone in a similar situation consider the value of maintaining good relations with employers during layoffs.
Barry then discussed his role managing an internal creative unit within Best Buy. He shared two videos that his team created for internal audiences, including one parody of “Hamilton,” that included professional dancers and actors performing a Best Buy-related song meant to motivate Best Buy employees at holiday time. Barry said his team has earned trust by continuing to provide efficient and effective work that gives internal clients “what they need, not always what they want at first.” He said communication professionals need to “push back when necessary” to ensure that their internal customers understand why a certain approach or content would be most effective in meeting their needs.
One tip that he shared with conference attendees is to add subtitles to videos that might be seen on kiosks or computer screens within work areas with the sound turned off. That way, employees understand the message even when viewing the video in an environment where the sound cannot be played.
During the CCE, I also spoke with Chuck Gose, BroadSign corporate communication practice leader and sales director. Gose, whose company developed a popular “Periodic Table of Internal Communication,” shared the news that he is currently working on an updated version of the Periodic Table that will include new content provided by communication professionals who have used the Periodic Table in their work.
The Periodic Table of Internal Communication groups common elements of smart internal communication. “Like the original Periodic Table, our table was developed with the knowledge that additional “elements” would be discovered, and the table updated to reflect them,” Gose said.