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An Edelman perspective on making meaningful employee connections that deepen engagement, build trust and accelerate business performance.



Internal communicators are routinely charged with educating employees about corporate strategy, which often takes the form of lengthy intranet articles or PowerPoint presentations. While written communications are easy to create, they arent necessarily the most engaging way to help employees internalize strategic concepts. We recently worked with a global healthcare company to help educate employees about the organizations strategy in emerging markets. The topic wasnt unfamiliar to employees: There had been multiple presentations at town halls and several articles on the intranet explaining the strategy at a high level. But it wasnt real to employees. It wasnt personal. It was just a PowerPoint slide. The internal communications team set out to change that with a highly emotive digital storytelling program. The concept was simple: Wisk away employees on a virtual journey through an emerging market, where they would learn about that countrys healthcare laws, business environment and public health concerns all of which play into the companys strategy for competing in these markets.


To execute this program, the global team decided to feature a different market each quarter. They worked closely with local communicators to develop content that conveyed authentic local perspectives, as well as the sights, sounds and sensations of the featured market. The team achieved this via a variety of digital storytelling tools, such as: Interactive maps: Employees navigated to content by clicking through an interactive map of the featured market. Each stop along the journey included a different piece of experiential content. Fictional patient profiles: To illustrate what healthcare is like in a certain market, the team created characters who described what the typical patient experiences in their country from a first person perspective. One such character explained that she, like 90 percent of people in her country, has no healthcare coverage and pays for treatments out-ofpocket. She shared how it takes weeks to get her daughter an appointment for her chronic ear infections, but expressed hope that pending legislation would make things easier for her family. This gave employees a very humanized view of the challenges and opportunities emerging markets posed for the company and its efforts to help more patients. Infographics to illustrate complex processes. One such graphic depicted the multi-step journey the company undertakes to launch a product in a new market, including gaining regulatory approvals, designing packaging and finally distributing the product. Visually depicting the process helped employees absorb the information more quickly than reading a detailed article.

Videos to explain potentially dull subjects in an engaging way. Gaining regulatory approval to bring new healthcare products to market is, in many countries, a long and paperwork-laden process. The company told this story through a documentary-style video: Voiceover narration explained the process in conversational terms, while video clips illustrated each point. Moreover, since there wasnt budget to fund a fully produced video, the team used stock video footage, as well as clips from interviews with inmarket employees, physicians and patients that local communicators recorded via mobile phones. The entire piece was edited together using widely available software designed for novices. Top 10 lists: Short, punchy features, such as top 10 reasons to do business in Russia or five myths about healthcare in China conveyed facts in a quick, easily digestible format. Trivia quizzes: At the end of the virtual journey through the market, employees took a brief survey-based quiz testing what they had learned along the way. Completion earned them a badge for their profile on the companys internal social media platform. This multi-format approach to storytelling struck a chord with employees, and senior leaders in emerging markets across the world jockeyed to have their market be the next to be profiled. Ultimately, this approach helped foster a deeper emotional connection to the companys strategy than a series of written communications ever could.


1. Put a human face on the topic. Consider creating personas based on real customer profiles; have these people express their needs and encourage employees to join in a conversation about the issues and potential solutions. Or capture employees explaining how they bring the strategy to life in their own words. 2. Use graphics to reach employees in multiple languages, since images can convey a story in a more universally understandable way than written text. 3. Verbally explain complex or technical concepts with a narrated video or presentation. 4. Consider gamification to encourage employees to interact with content, allowing them to earn recognition or other incentives. 5. Leverage content to start a conversation. Encourage employees to discuss the topic at hand with a comments section or a link to an internal forum.

Edelmans Employee Engagement Practice helps organizations accelerate business performance, delivered by highly engaged and trusted employees. We do this by making meaningful, trust-building connections connecting employees with the company, connecting employees with each other, and connecting employees with the outside world. We have a global network of employee engagement specialists who can develop engagement strategy; deploy the tools and processes to deliver it; create the multimedia channels and content that support it; and design the insight mechanisms to measure it. For more information, visit us at or follow us on Twitter at @EdelmanEE.

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