5 Ways We Are Redefining Modern MarComms

The MarComms team at Teekay is small and mighty (basically 5 people, no agency support); and works in perpetual beta mode. We are pushing hard, and breaking through to uncharted territory of what a modern MarComms team can do and be.

I thought I would share 5 rich examples of the work (it is always about the work); and some of the wins from the last few years. All the work described was done by the team.

1. Video killed the corporate communications star

This is a story about the creative process and the ability to execute to a very high standard without spending any money! Over the last 5 years we have stopped working with production houses creating mundane corporate videos; introduced first-person hand-held, smartphone filmmaking (including executives); post-produced all content in-house; then delivered continually higher-end content using DSLR video to the point that we are our own in-house creative agency.

(ready for anything – mobile studio set up)

This is the de facto start point for our work. We have a team who can get their hands dirty in the pre-production-post process. With the consequence that we can create 150+ videos a year in-house.

We are applying the skillsets with a storytelling mindset. We have the power to not just capture the organizational culture, but also unlock further its potential. This is my current favourite example of it:

Frankie is a personal hero of mine, with a learning mindset, and this is one from an ongoing Hero series we are making for a large culture project.

 2. World-leading enterprise social network (ESN)

We were the first company in the world to introduce Yammer-as-intranet-replacement, more than 5 years ago. This Enterprise Social Network (ESN) is possibly the most powerful mechanism we have to unlock value in the organization.

In a high trust workplace, we do not gate keep the network at all. Instead, in 200+ groups, we encourage colleagues to share their information, knowledge and opinions. From here we gather 90% of our corporate stories that the team finesse out to internal and external stakeholders, from investors to suppliers, global colleagues to customers.

Over the years I have often spoken at many Microsoft events across Canada and the US, sharing our yammer journey as a traditional B2B corporation willing to push the boundary so as to take advantage of the natural curiosity and strength of our global network.

(we are a community, co-creating our future)

3. A culture of content

As we unlock this font of knowledge and storytelling, we reflect back to the organization a culture of content. The team acts as organizational storytelling coach – everyone is a publisher and marketer. Everyone has a part to play in the cultural and organizational narrative. Everyone is an advocate.

The content fuels the collective vision and aligns participants together; it drives creativity and pride. The team determines the content that works, and operationalizes it. We have a strategy of continual, tightly-scoped inexpensive/free content testing and experimentation – small pieces, loosely joined<after Dave Weinberger>.

We guide emergent content themes towards the organizational centre, while we research and experiment on the next generation themes and content, measuring and optimizing as we go.

(culture happens every day, in every way. Content captures, and teaches, it.)

 4. Social advocacy that crushes

Content is shared and made available for advocacy. It flows through our direct external social network of 120K+, and the hundred thousands of our collective network. We share content every day on social; 150-200 website blog posts a year; the same number of videos for internal/external use. Our engagement rates on social beat best practice in every channel. Facebook has an unbelievable engagement rate averaging 12% (even as we double the community year on year.)

We understand that social works for positive intent, and also builds brand protection when something goes wrong. Our engaged community is the first line of defence during a public affairs incident.

As the leader of the Public Affairs team as well, I have developed training on social media; as well as deployed the Weber Shandwick Firebell social media drill with the executive team. The feedback was that we were the best prepared team they had seen to respond to any difficult eventuality.

(we make content so ‘tearable’, it’s insane)

 5. Engagement cannot be ‘done to’ people

More recently, with a shared understanding that we co-create the culture in a high trust workplace, we have deployed the OfficeVibe engagement pulse survey. We want metrics to unlock further the conversations we need to deepen the culture and the brand. Uniquely, we make every employee a manager in the tool so that everyone can see all the data for the teams of which they are a member.

The Executive has no more access to the data than one of their team. Engagement cannot be ‘done to’ people. Culture and engagement, and the right decisions to make to improve outcomes, are not the preserve of the management team – we all participate in its definition and development.

Participation in the tool is high, we have had several personal and team breakthroughs, and we have another powerful co-created dynamic in the organization. These are exciting times.

(The team climbed a mountain together to see the sunrise #OneTeamOneDream)

So, where does this leave us? For me, these are best practice examples of how the modern marketing communications professional can lead in an organization:

  • Understand that it is the power of the network that creates the opportunity to ‘win’
  • Trust that the best answers emerge through a co-creation process that you cannot own
  • Listen to, and marshal, the shared intent of the whole network. Channel and refine the content and messages as you go
  • Develop small-scale, fail-forward tests; metrics are your best friend
  • Deploy quick, minimum viable product (MVP) solutions
  • Scale every piece of content, every tool, every process that you can – this is how we produce so many quality outcomes with a micro team
  • Evangelize what works. Galvanize leaders, front line workers (and the external community) to see the power of stories, and the reflected brand value for themselves and the organization in sharing them.

I wrote an accompanying insight piece into my own process, called 10 Ideas and Concepts That Describe Me REALLY Well. Marry these two pieces and you have the inside track on how things work ’round here.


←This Much We Know.→

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