TRACK 1: Employee Communications Best Practices

Thursday, Oct. 5

7:30–8:30 a.m.
Bonus Breakfast Session

How Microsoft improves employee engagement using the latest Office 365 tools

Join Eric Jaffe, senior marcom manager for employee communications at Microsoft, and Michael DesRochers, founder and managing director of PoliteMail Software, for breakfast and learn how Microsoft uses modern office tools and business intelligence to better engage employees worldwide. In this Microsoft case study analysis, you’ll learn how the tech giant has gained email efficiencies and improved employee engagement using measurement, A/B Testing, PowerBI analytics, executive videos and mobile-first design. If you want your employee communications on target and engagement levels high, attend this session.

During the breakfast session you’ll learn how to:

  • Measure results and perform A/B testing to improve email reach, readership and click-thrus
  • Achieve brand consistency across hundreds of communications teams
  • Develop mobile-first responsive design pages within Outlook
  • Deliver fast, effective executive communications using email and video
  • Develop key insights and communications intelligence using PowerBI analytics
Founder & managing director
PoliteMail Software
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Senior manager, employee communications
Microsoft
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9–10 a.m.
Opening keynote

Lessons learned from first lady Michelle Obama on how to write powerful, memorable and authentic stories

Sarah Hurwitz, former head speechwriter for first lady Michelle Obama, will share lessons learned from her years as a White House speechwriter about how to craft moving, memorable and inspiring speeches. Citing real-life examples from her time in the White House, Hurwitz will offer advice on how to tell vivid stories, make compelling arguments and express deep truths that can move audiences to action.

During this keynote you will learn how to:

  • Employ powerful, authentic language instead of tired slogans and clichéd soundbites
  • Tell vivid, memorable stories that will move your audience
  • Make a persuasive argument that motivates audiences to take action
  • Edit yourself effectively
  • Use your speakers’ words to convey deep emotions
Former head speechwriter
First lady Michelle Obama
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10:10–11 a.m.

Focus on what we have in common: Using employee stories to drive greater engagement in times of change

You put a lot of effort into researching, writing and publishing articles in a time when attention spans are shorter than ever and too many articles risk becoming “noise.” Whether you’re explaining mergers and acquisitions, growing your employee base in geo-diverse locations or bringing in new types of talent, now is the perfect time look at storytelling strategies that bring employees together. Hear how GoDaddy unified teams by launching #GoDaddyBrave and bringing leaders and employees together for GoDaddy Story Slams. 

You will learn how to:

  • Rethink employee stories and map them to increase engagement, attract talent and drive business results.
  • Use storytelling as a key culture driver.
  • Find authentic ways to use stories to improve leadership communication skills.
Director of internal communications
GoDaddy
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11:10 a.m.–Noon

Internal communicators: Shift from doing to leading

How do you elevate the role of internal communication from execution to strategy? Over the past ten years Domino’s Pizza has turned its brand around, and successful internal communication played a key part. Stacie Barrett shares the story of Domino’s, along with the steps she took to raise the bar for the internal communication function. She will outline the process of taking a one-person team that merely sent out communications to building a six-person team that’s invited to the table to develop messaging and strategy.  

You will learn how to:

  • Educate your leadership on the power of strong communication
  • Remove clutter to craft must-read communications
  • Reinforce the need for effective internal communication and grow your team
  • Break down barriers and communicate across departments to promote communication across your organization
Manager of internal communications
Domino’s Pizza
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Noon–1 p.m.

Lunch (provided on site)

1–1:50 p.m.
Panel

Employee feedback: Best practices to follow up and take action on what they are telling you

Find out how to best follow up on what employees are telling you.  This panel of communicators will discuss topics that apply to any industry or size organization, including:

  • In a social world, how do you best listen and learn from employees on social media
  • How to best drive action and change based on the data you are gathering from employees
  • What are the best metrics to show the impact of employee comms and employee engagement on an organization
  • Why you shouldn’t ask the questions unless you’re ready to communicate and act on the results
  • Ways to tie comms to employee feedback regularly and authentically
Director of corporate communications
Walmart
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Director of internal communications
SAS
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Director of internal communications
GoDaddy
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Director of internal social systems and content management for Starbucks partners (employees)
Starbucks
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CEO
Ragan Communications Inc.
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1:50–2:30 p.m.

Networking break

1:50–2:05 p.m.
Lightning Talk

Transforming internal communications with a successful digital workplace

This 10-minute lightning talk session will showcase how global engineering leader Amec Foster Wheeler launched a digital workplace to keep its 36,000 employees informed during a global merger. Its Unily solution was launched in just six weeks to keep stakeholders informed with crucial information during this tumultuous time.

Vice President
Unily
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2:30–3:20 p.m.

Work is not a destination: How a mobile-first strategy transforms employee engagement

Work is not a destination. Traditional employee communication takes advantage of channels like email, portals, and intranets. HR has additional channels, like the intranet portal or the expense app. We know, however, that adding more destinations for employees just dilutes their attention and adoption. This explains why organizations struggle with reaching and communicating with their employees. Rather than addressing the real challenges, though, many set out to revamp or redesign their same technologies. In this session, Daniel Kraft, CEO of Sitrion, will challenge the concept of destination channels and discuss a better way to reach employees in a more direct and personalized manner—through a single employee app. Jay Clem of Microsoft will share his organization’s digital transformation journey to provide Microsoft employees with the best workplace and employee-app experience possible.

During their session you will learn:

  • How to reach and engage your employees and not just add more destinations
  • Microsoft’s digital transformation journey—from their mission and objectives to needs research, rollout and results
  • Key tactics to increase overall employee app adoption
  • Ways to get started implementing an employee app in your organization
General manager of HR IT
Microsoft
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3:30–4:30 p.m.
Special keynote

More than a catchphrase: Putting communications to work to roll out meaningful

Culture is top of mind for many organizations these days. Research has shown that as workforce demographics change, employees want to work for organizations that support their values, empower work/life balance, and encourage personal growth. But changing a culture doesn’t happen overnight, especially in established organizations. In addition to leadership backing and a thoughtful approach to defining and refining culture goals, a successful culture change requires a well-planned and ongoing HR and communications strategy.

Learn how Microsoft has approached culture change, including:

  • Aligning culture change to the organization’s mission and brand
  • Learning from employees to honor the past and define the future
  • Making change real through all people processes
  • Amplifying internal storytelling using tools like Sway and portals, and infusing a culture message in all senior leadership communications
  • Measuring the impact of culture change through employee feedback, customer and partner feedback and external perceptions
Human resources general manager for marketing and consumer business
Microsoft
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5–7 p.m.

Networking cocktail party hosted by Microsoft

Join your colleagues and new friends at this networking event at Microsoft’s Visitors Center. You’ll enjoy great conversation, food and drinks while getting a peek at some of Microsoft’s latest technologies.

Friday, Oct. 6

7:30–8:30 a.m.
Bonus Breakfast Session

The top 20 tips and strategies global organizations use to drive employee engagement

Employee engagement is essential to every organization’s success. According to a recent study by Ragan and RMG, 87 percent of employees worldwide are not engaged, costing organizations trillions of dollars each year. The solution requires going beyond traditional communications. Join Bob Michelson, CEO of RMG Networks, as he shares the most compelling engagement techniques his clients have deployed, gained from the experiences, solutions and results of many RMG clients (which include more than 50 of the 100 largest organizations in the United States). Michelson will share specific and actionable internal communications techniques and technologies that have had a meaningful impact on employee engagement, satisfaction, retention and productivity. Featured will be best practices on types of content that perform the best, the design/look of content that employees respond most favorably to, the ideal frequency of content updates and new sources of content authoring that drive content growth.

Enjoy a delicious complimentary breakfast with this special presentation. You’ll learn:

  • Why and how to deliver personalized communications to every member of your organization
  • Why and how to deliver a compelling mobile internal communications solution to all your employees, with special emphasis on reaching your nondesk workers
  • The characteristics of internal communication messages that perform the best
  • Strategies for boosting employee engagement, satisfaction, retention and productivity
President & CEO
RMG Networks
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9–9:50 a.m.

Employee advocacy: How to create employee ambassadors and build advocacy from the inside out

Employees are the best ambassadors for you organization and your culture, but is your organization doing its part to engage them? If you want employees to be stewards of the brand, you have to build trust and demonstrate an authentic understanding of their needs. Only then can you create the care and commitment that inspires them to be vocal and proud ambassadors for your brand.

You will learn:

  • What “engagement” actually means
  • What employees and individuals want and need (It’s pretty simple, so don’t complicate it!)
  • How to get employees to tell their stories—and how to listen
Director of global internal communications for operations
Amazon
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10–10:50 a.m.
Microsoft skills session

New capabilities in Office 365 you should be using now 

Office 365 has amazing new abilities you can use to boost team collaboration, create engaging content and promote interactive conversations. You may not be aware of all the improvements in the underlying platform and its everyday desktop apps, so attend this fast-paced session packed with demos to see how you can do more.

Join Naomi Moneypenny to learn how communicators can:

  • Use updates for designing and sharing content in PowerPoint and Sway to make your content more engaging and accessible
  • Use the latest functionality in Office 365 for collaboration to maximize how and where people want to work
  • Adopt cloud-based technologies to form communities and affiliation groups and improve collaboration
  • Get a taste of the latest way to create mobile apps from your own data
  • Direct information into your intranet from external sources to bring in new, relevant content without coding
Senior Product Manager
Microsoft
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11 a.m.–Noon
Closing keynote

Turning your people story inside-out

A certain 2012 presidential candidate once famously said, “corporations are people, my friend.” Politics aside, he wasn’t far off. People shake the hands of customers. People keep the corporate culture. People form the connective tissue of massive organizations moving in concert toward a common goal. And yet, their individual stories remain some of the hardest for companies to uncover and share – especially at scale. With more than 1.2 million associates in the U.S. alone, Walmart knows better than most the difference one person can make. The nation’s largest retailer has been working to create and operationalize an “always-on” communications program designed to find and tell People stories, big and small, from the airwaves and print of mainstream media to its corporate webzine to the company’s 4,000+ local Facebook pages, and beyond…

In this session, you will learn:

  • How Walmart aligns resources to mine human interest stories across its vast organization
  • Why human interest stories demand a channel-agnostic approach to storytelling
  • Strategies for getting buy-in across the HR, legal and communications functions
  • The impact of hyper-local storytelling on brand affinity and reputation
  • The value of making the individual, not your company, the hero of the story – no matter where you’re telling it
Director of corporate communications
Walmart
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For event information, contact Customer Service 800.878.5331, or cservice@ragan.com