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Transforming Communications through Engagement

An interview with Max Malloy, Manager of Employee Engagement & Communications at Advanced Micro Devices

Internal Communications refers to all communication done within an organization including emails, memos, company meetings, etc. Internal Communications speaks to the “what’s going on” within an organization, allowing a company to facilitate a voice for the employees to keep them engaged. Poor internal communication causes annexation in an organization that could lead to employees feeling disconnected. The key: Enhance internal programs with repeatable situational message processes. The following interview with Max Malloy, Manager of Employee Engagement & Communications at Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), covers a number of key topics that will be discussed at the Marcus Evans Internal Communications & Situational Messaging Conference, December 4-5, 2013 in Boston. 

Q: What protocols has AMD implemented to establish repeatability in internal situational messaging? 

A: One of our tenets is congruous communications planning. It essentially means reduce, reuse, recycle in development of communications plans across various areas of the business. Developing one-off solutions is wasteful and shortsighted when you have a really smart team who can play off each other’s strengths and build out templates for plans that borrow the best from one another. It also ensures we’re communicating the same priorities, channel descriptors and paths forward across the business, which helps give executives the confidence that we’re aligned and speaking with one voice. 

Q: What strategies has AMD utilized in order to maintain consistent and compelling messaging during organizational change?

A: An important aspect of promoting transformational themes throughout our messaging is brand voice. As we’ve activated a refreshed brand and purpose statement within the past few months, we weave the core messaging throughout every bit of engagement communications we contribute to the community. Always working to avoid the buzzword trap, we use great care to thoughtfully integrate certain keywords that reinforce the attitude and voice that represent AMD. Whether it’s in blog posts, discussion threads, polls, or our own team’s responses to ideation campaigns, we feel it’s incredibly important that community members never move on from reading, participating or contributing without getting a strong sense of the brand-infused vibe of the community.

The other element is daily engagement within the community. Where editorial calendars used to work on weekly or monthly cycles, we now are working inside the community constantly, multiple times throughout the day. Questions, concerns, comments and contributions all flow in real-time, from around the world, so we’ve committed to being a conduit for helping identify connections between people and information in a real and useful way. I’d like to think we also work to set a good example that engagement communications means taking genuine interest in other community members and helping to facilitate awareness, education and connection.

Q: How has AMD integrated solutions to combat the drop-off of Intranet usage common in many industries today?

A: Our smartest move was bringing in a true social business solution a couple years ago, so that we’d have time to launch and integrate with the existing and established legacy Intranet before it started dropping page views and clicks. We were fortunate to have leadership with the foresight to see that coming (looking at what was happening externally with Facebook and Twitter and saw the handwriting on the wall) and prepare accordingly. With each new wave of social-savvy young engineers joining the ranks and longer-term employees shifting their personal interactions to Facebook, Instagram, etc., the expectation is that there will be similar capabilities at work as they find personally and socially.

Our next big pushes are in gamification and mobile, which speak directly to the notion of community recognition and reward, as well as fast, easy access to information. Browsing or engaging within the work community should be as easy as scanning Reddit or Buzzfeed on your mobile device and as rewarding as seeing likes pile up on the newest status update you posted to Facebook or post on Tumblr.

Q: As a specialist in employee engagement & communications with AMD, how do you measure the effectiveness of internal communications initiatives?

A: We reinvented the way we measure to focus on three levels. Awareness, Education and Engagement. I suppose I could break into my Glengarry Glen Ross Alec Baldwin impersonation (“A.I.D.A – Attention, Interest, Decision, Action”) here, but I’ll resist the urge. It really is very similar though. Awareness is the broadest’s the measure of knowing that employees at least have a basic understanding of the goings on through the business. This is reflected in page views online and open rates in emails. Now, until AMD can track eyeball irises via webcam or smartphone, it’s never easy to tell exactly what they’re looking at, but the general assumption is that if the community is giving content a cursory scan enough to not be caught off-guard if asked about it, that’s a win.

Next is education. If after giving content that initial scan they choose to click-in – make an investment of time and energy to pursue a deeper understanding of the information or provide the most basic feedback to the author or broader community – that’s even better. Education is reflected in email/online click rates and basic social functions (‘Liking,’ ‘Following,’ ‘Sharing,’ etc). The biggest, toughest goal is engagement. Engagement is getting a member of the community to not just give time towards reading, but to give of their opinion and reputation. That’s scary and not something many people are comfortable with...especially at work...and within a very broad public venue like a social business community.

Engagement for us is commenting on a blog, offering up an answer on a discussion thread, or, best of all, writing and posting a blog or discussion. Measurement of these can be relatively straightforward if it’s just a numbers game you’re chasing. But that’s missing a lot of nuance. It’s also about seeing how many new names are entering each phase on a regular basis. Where are those new names from? Are you impacting certain cultures or demographics with different types of engagement communications? And what is the “reputational” impact within the company for those who choose to get increasingly involved? Are employees who engage the community rewarded and recognized, or are they ignored? Those indicators need to work alongside more traditional analytics-based measurements.

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