New Frontiers in Employee Communications

2006
Third annual examination of internal communications channels
By Edelman Change and Employee Engagement in partnership with PeopleMetrics

ABOUT EDELMAN CHANGE AND EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT
Edelman Change and Employee Engagement is the organizational communications consulting practice of Edelman. The mission of Edelman Change and Employee Engagement is to advise and support organizations on strengthening their ability to implement corporate strategy and initiatives. We help organizations establish stronger management and employee relationships that condition organizational behavior to build brands, improve performance and achieve business goals. We deliver value by providing clarity and setting expectations between organizations and their constituents. This, in turn, positively conditions attitude and behavior that promotes constituent satisfaction – a key driver for business success. In sum, we aim to provide better business results for our clients – results defined against business objectives. Our approach takes a holistic view of employee engagement and communications. We believe that alignment and consistency across the entire employee experience is critical in achieving behavior change. Depending on client needs, our programs may focus on one or more of the six areas that drive employee engagement: • Communication and information flow • Leadership • Involvement and opportunity • Recognition • Compensation and benefits • Work environment

ABOUT PEOPLEMETRICS
PeopleMetrics is a leading U.S.-based research and consulting firm that helps companies understand and manage their two most important assets – employees and customers. We provide dozens of Fortune 1000 companies with Employee Engagement, Customer Engagement, and Strategic Market Research services. In particular, PeopleMetrics is a thought-leader in helping companies engage their employees and customers. Our tested people engagement model includes both functional and emotional components, while our benchmark databases provide robust competitive norms in a variety of industries. In addition, PeopleMetrics has extensive experience linking employee and customer engagement to business outcomes and profitability.

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Table of Contents
INTRODUCTION EXECUTIVE SUMMARY AWARENESS OF NEW MEDIA TECHNOLOGIES • AWARENESS DOES NOT EQUAL USAGE USE OF EMPLOYEE COMUNICATIONS CHANNELS • SHARING WITH A CLICK OF A MOUSE • CORPORATE BLOGS • PODCAST USE • WIKI USE • MAXIMIZING THE INTRANET • FAVORING THE FIREWALL A BANNER YEAR FOR CEO BLOGGERS EFFECTIVENESS OF COMMUNICATIONS CHANNELS • PRINT VERSUS ELECTRONIC • NEW MEDIA EFFECTIVENESS • DIFFERENT CHANNELS FOR DIFFERENT GOALS FACING THE REALITIES OF MODERN COMMUNICATIONS • TRACKING EMPLOYEE BLOGGING • OBSTACLES TO ONLINE TOOLS – DEBUNKING THE MYTHS • CREATING A CULTURE OF COMMUNICATION ACCESS TO ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATIONS • RECOGNIZING THE DIGITAL DIVIDE • ACCOMMODATING THE 24-HOUR WORK CYCLE WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOUR ORGANIZATION METHODOLOGY VALIDITY ENDNOTES CONTACTS 4 5 7 8 9 9 11 11 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 17 22 22 23 25 27 27 27 29 30 30 31 32

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INTRODUCTION
Two years ago we began examining the use and effectiveness of the various communications channels organizations used to communicate with employees. Our goal was to provide a benchmark for organizations to evaluate the tools they have implemented and identify best practices in the industry. The study also aimed to explore the adoption of emerging new media technologies inside of organizations and investigate the potential these tools hold for corporate communicators. A lot has changed since we published the first “New Frontiers in Employee Communications” study in 2004: • The number of blogs globally has doubled more than three times, growing from roughly 6 million to more than 57 million.1 • The number of podcasts hosted on the Internet has surpassed the number of radio stations worldwide.2 • Wikipedia, a public Internet-based encyclopedia launched in 2001 that allows users to create and edit content, moved from 1 million entries in 105 languages to more than 5 million articles in 250 languages today. The English version alone has more than 1.4 million entries, more than 10 times that of the Encyclopedia Britannica.3 The use of new media continues to expand at an exponential rate among the public, but the potential these mediums hold for organizations remains unclear. Are organizations adopting new media technologies? If so, for what purpose? Are these new channels an effective way to communicate to employees? And if they are, are they superior to more traditional methods? The data above on adoption of new media only tells part of the story. We recognize that corporate communicators are in search of answers to more meaningful questions as well: Does this represent a paradigm shift in communications, or are these tools simply for the tech-savvy? Will these new channels facilitate a more open exchange of ideas, or invite abuse? What forms of communication will the next generation of workers expect? This report not only investigates how organizations are currently using new media technologies, but also points to implications for the future of employee communications and what corporate communicators need to consider to effectively reach and influence workers. Our examination of employee communications at industry-leading organizations reveals three things: • Despite increased awareness of new media technologies, companies are hesitant to adopt them for internal communications. • Organizations should consider a mix of channels depending on their communications goals. • Communicators misunderstand the obstacles to implementation of new media technologies in organizations.

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
This year’s study focused solely on industry-leading organizations. Communicators from 75 Fortune 500 companies and dozens of global organizations participated in the survey (see Methodology p. 30). Among the key findings: Awareness of new media technologies • Nearly all respondents reported knowledge of blogs (Web logs), a significant increase compared to the original 2004 study. • Awareness of podcasting is high, with more than three-fourths of corporate communicators citing understanding of the technology. • Fewer than half of study participants knew what a wiki is. • Fewer corporate communicators read blogs than adult American Internet users as a whole, and the number of respondents who have posted to a blog did not increase this year. Use of employee communications channels • For the third year in a row, e-mail was listed as the most frequently used communications vehicle within companies. • More than three-fourths of organizations use some online tool to share information and promote best practices, with intranets being the most commonly used channel. • Nearly one-third of respondents report their organizations host, author or support a blog. • More than one-third of corporate communicators report their organizations use podcasts. • Slightly more than 10 percent of leading organizations report the use of wikis. • Nearly all organizations use an intranet and nearly three-fourths use portal technology. • Leading organizations are more inclined to use new media channels to communicate with internal audiences as opposed to external stakeholders. Effectiveness of communications channels • For the third year in a row, in-person communications was rated as the most effective channel to communicate to employees. • Among organizations that use multiple new media channels, wikis are viewed as the most effective. • Blogs are considered a useful tool to impact culture change and identify employee issues within organizations.

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• Respondents rate podcasts as a useful tool for employee training. • Wikis are seen as a useful tool for collaboration and knowledge management. Facing the realities of modern communications • Only 13 percent of respondents said their company monitors employees’ blogging activities, and nearly two-thirds of corporate communicators are not sure if their organizations monitor employee blog use. • Organizations that have a blog (internal or external) are more likely to have a policy regarding employee blogging, less likely to have a policy that prohibits employees from posting on external chat rooms and message boards, less likely to prohibit the use of instant messaging from their computers and less likely to block access to the Internet than companies that do not have a blog. Access to electronic communications • At nearly one-third of industry-leading organizations, fewer than half of employees have access to a computer at work.

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AWARENESS OF NEW MEDIA TECHNOLOGIES
Blogs gained mainstream prominence during the political events of 2003 and 2004, but it took a while for the technology to fully enter the consciousness of corporate communicators. This year, all but one of 119 respondents reported knowledge of blogs. Awareness of podcasts was also very high, with 86 percent of individuals noting they knew of the technology. However, fewer than half of respondents (48 percent) said they understood what a wiki is.

Do you know what a blog (Web log) is?
100

Percentage

80 60 40 20 0 Yes No Yes No Yes No

99%

1%

83%

17%

59%

41%

2006

2005

2004

Do you know what a podcast is?
100

Percentage

80 60 40 20 0
Yes No

86%

14%

Do you know what a wiki is?
80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0

Percentage

48%
Yes

52%
No

39%
Yes

61%
No

2006

2005

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What is a wiki?
According to Webster’s New Millennium Dictionary a wiki is “a collaborative Web site set up to allow user editing and adding of content.” This means that any visitor to the page who is granted permission to contribute can alter the material that appears on the site. This is different than a standard corporate Web site where visitors cannot add content, or a blog or message board where visitors can merely add comments. The word wiki is short for wiki-wiki, which means fast in Hawaiian. The first wiki (WikiWikiWeb) was launched in 1995 by computer programmer Ward Cunningham. Wikis are particularly useful for creating libraries of information or developing communications that will evolve. Perhaps the most famous use of wikis is Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia launched in 2001. As of October 2006, Wikipedia had more than 1.4 million entries in English and more than 2 million entries in French, Italian, German, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, Polish and Swedish. By allowing multiple users to contribute to a central source, organizations are able to leverage their collective intelligence. A key benefit of wiki technology is that it does not require users to know HTML in order to edit page content. In fact, many recent wikis use a What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get (WYSIWYG) editing format that makes contributions even more intuitive for users. Open-source wiki software is available for organizations to implement behind firewalls, or wikis can be hosted by commercial providers with a variety of security options. Due to the open nature of wikis, they are often viewed as vulnerable to vandalism and misinformation campaigns. However, when used inside an organization, identity controls and monitoring can prevent most abuse.

Awareness does not equal usage The recognition of new media channels does not necessarily translate into first-hand familiarity. Fewer than one-third (29 percent) of corporate communicators report reading a blog regularly; the same number say they have posted to a blog. The number of respondents reading blogs has increased slightly over last year, but is fewer than the number of adult American Internet users who view them (39 percent).4 The number of corporate communicators who posted to a blog remained the same as in 2005.

Do you read a particular blog regularly?
100

Percentage

80 60 40 20 0

29%
Yes

71%
No

19%
Yes

81%
No

2006

2005

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Have you ever posted to a blog?
80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0

Percentage

29%
Yes

71%
No

29%
Yes

71%
No

2006

2005

USE OF EMPLOYEE COMMUNICATIONS CHANNELS
For the third consecutive year, respondents listed e-mail as the most frequently used form of communication in organizations, followed by the company intranet and in-person exchanges. New media channels (blogs, podcasts, etc.) were rarely mentioned as commonly used forms of sharing information.

What channel does your organization use most frequently to communicate to employees?
1% 1% 1% 2% 2% 12%
E-mail

Intranet

In-person

Print

53% 28%

Podcast

Telephone

Blog

Other

Wikis, instant messaging (IM), message boards, forums and chat rooms received 0%

Sharing with a click of a mouse One of the greatest challenges among industry-leading organizations, many of which are decentralized or operate globally, is how to share best practices across the company. Data reveals that a clear majority of organizations favor using an electronic tool to share information with and among employees. The most commonly reported medium was a company intranet, with more than three-fourths of respondents leveraging a central, internal online page or portal.

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Does your organization use an online tool to share information and promote best practices?
15%
Yes No

85%

- Twelve companies, more than 10 percent of respondents, use Microsoft SharePoint (software that provides intranet and Web portal capabilities) to facilitate collaborative communications. - Only seven companies, fewer than 10 percent of respondents, use a custom tool to share information. This suggests that the majority of companies use off-the-shelf solutions, or work with vendors to implement offerings, instead of investing significant time and resources in personalized products. This data also suggests that the technology already exists to meet the majority of corporate communications needs. Current tools can be formatted to reflect existing organizational brand presentation.

What type of online tool does your organization use to share information and promote best practices?
78
80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0

Tools

12 1
Radio

3
Podcast

4
Wiki

5
Blog

7

7

7

8

11

SharePoint

Custom Newsletter Forums Webcast/ Online Tool Meeting

E-mail

Intranet/ Portal

Number of companies reporting use

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*Note: The number reported in this study for blog use by companies is higher than the numbers found in research by other organizations and individuals. Several reasons may account for this discrepancy. Our study looked at overall use of blogs, regardless of whether they are public or private (our data supports the finding that a number of companies operate internal-only blogs), while some previous work looks only at external-facing material. In addition, the assumption can be made that given the size and resources of industryleading organizations, they may be more likely to have implemented blogs in some manner (such as among engineering, information technology or communications teams). Some studies have looked at a broader range of corporate blog usage, including smaller, non-Fortune 500 and non-global companies. However, we also recognize that these numbers may be somewhat inflated due to the small sample size and the possibility that companies with active new media programs may have been more likely to participate in the study.

Corporate blogs Nearly one-third (32 percent) of respondents reported that their organizations host, support or author a blog, up significantly from a year ago (See sidebar).* Communicators are recognizing blogs as an opportunity to build deeper relationships with stakeholders. “When we first started going to senior leadership, we positioned the blog as an extension of our brand, and at Southwest our brand is our people,” says Angela Vargo, senior specialist of business development at Southwest Airlines and co-creator of the company’s external blog Nuts About Southwest. “This is a forum for our best and major asset, our people, to communicate directly to the public. A blog is very much supposed to be an extension of a company: whatever they think, they believe, their mission. That was the selling point.”

Does your organization author, host or support any blogs?
100

Percentage

80 60 40 20 0
Yes No Yes No

32%

68%

13%

87%

2006
Podcast use While blogs have existed for several years, podcasting is a relatively recent addition to the new media mix, with the term not appearing until early 2004.5 However, communicators have been quick to adopt podcasting, with more than a third of organizations reporting podcast use.

2005

Does your organization use podcasts?
Yes

35%

No

Podcasting vs streaming audio The fundamental differences between a podcast and streaming audio are the ability to download podcasts and load them onto a portable media player and the option to subscribe to a feed and automatically receive new podcasts from a particular source. However, the majority of podcast listeners never transfer the audio to a portable player, preferring to listen on their computer. While podcasts allow users to control when and where they listen to audio, organizations can reap many of the same benefits of the medium – more engaging and dynamic content delivered by a human voice – with streaming audio or static MP3 files.

65%

Wiki use The least known of the new media offerings, wikis are quickly gaining interest among internal communicators, with slightly more than one-in-ten (11 percent) of leading organizations reporting use of the channel.

Does your organization use wiki technology?
11%
Yes No

89%

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Wikis are particularly useful for communications efforts that evolve and benefit from input from a diverse network of stakeholders. The Central Intelligence Agency is currently leading an effort to use wikis as a way to gather information from analysts at 16 different government agencies. The project, named Intellipedia, makes information from subject-matter experts scattered across the globe available in a central and searchable online space. Another differentiator for wikis is that they document revisions, allowing users to see when changes occur and compare alternate versions. Maximizing the intranet Perhaps no internal communications tool is more versatile than the intranet, due to its ability to serve as a portal, displaying and providing access to a variety of different channels. While use of intranets is nearly universal among leading organizations (99 percent report usage), and portal technology is commonplace (72 percent), few companies seem to take full advantage of these sites by integrating communications channels and interactive features. Only slightly more than a third (34 percent) of companies reported using a message board, group or forum on the intranet, and nearly one in five companies (18 percent) are not able to stream video.

Does your organization operate an intranet?
1%
Yes No

Does your organization use portal technology?
14%
Yes No

14% 99%

I'm not sure

72%

Does your organization’s intranet contain message boards, groups or forums?
Yes No

Can your organization’s intranet stream video?
4% 18%
Yes No I'm not sure

34%

66% 78%

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Favoring the firewall Internal use of new media avoids several risks associated with opening communications channels to external involvement. Inside of organizations, communicators can moderate, facilitate and track conversations to ensure that employee participation is contributing to organizational goals and complies with appropriate standards of behavior. Communicators have recognized internal implementation as a way to test the usefulness of new media technologies without facing the risks and uncertainty of the external marketplace. Nearly one-third (32 percent) of organization blogs are aimed exclusively at internal audiences, and 19 percent are focused solely on external stakeholders. Perhaps a more significant indicator of the hesitancy to take a corporate blog public is that more than one-third (37 percent) of respondents said they would never use a blog to communicate externally with customers and stakeholders. The focus on internal audiences is even more pronounced among senior executives who choose to blog. Almost two-thirds (58 percent) of senior executive bloggers aim their writing exclusively at employees. “It’s easier to sell an executive on internal blogging,” says David Carter, chief technology officer and vice president of strategy at iUpload, a content management and corporate blogging company that has worked for several leading organizations including McDonald’s and Cannondale Bicycle Corporation. “All they need to do is audit their Sent Mail folder for one-to-many communications that probably should have been a post in their internal blog.”

To what audience is your organization’s blog aimed?
Internal

32%

External Both

49%

19%

In your opinion, do you think your organization would consider a blog as a way to communicate internally with its employees?
Yes No

In your opinion, do you think your organization would consider a blog as a way to communicate externally with customers and stakeholders?
Yes No

26% 37%

38% 43%
Maybe

Maybe

19%

37%

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Does your organization have a CEO or a member of senior management who blogs?
17% 4% 18%
Yes No I'm not sure My CEO would never blog

Who is the audience of your organization’s CEO/management blog?
Internal

24%

External Both

58% 18% 61%

A BANNER YEAR FOR CEO BLOGGERS
As of the time of publication of this report, only four Fortune 500 CEOs had contributed to a public blog. While it’s likely that several chief executives contribute to internal blogs, insight into that content is not available (an exception is Intel CEO Paul Otellini, who began blogging in December 2004 when he was president of the company. Excerpts from Otellini’s blog were leaked to the San Jose Mercury News in February 2005). While the blogs examined here are external forms of communication, it is important to recognize that they still serve as a powerful employee communications vehicle as workers will visit the site, comment on the material and discuss posts among themselves. Corporate blogs can become the face and mouth of an organization online, shaping perceptions in a more personal way than a standard Web site would. As such, it is critical that employees be considered as an audience for any online effort whether it is internal or external. The examples listed below demonstrate that there is no one right or wrong strategy for blogging and that the content and style should reflect the personality of the author. Jonathan Schwartz (Sun Microsystems) – When Jonathan Schwartz became CEO of Sun in April 2006, he became the first Fortune 500 CEO to regularly blog. Schwartz, who since 2004 had been blogging as president and chief operating officer of the company, leads an organization that has more than 3,000 employee blogs. His blog attracts more than 50,000 visitors a month and caused Schwartz to tell the Associated Press, “The blog has become for me the single most effective vehicle to communicate to all of our constituencies - developers, media, analysts and shareholders.”

John Mackey (Whole Foods) – Technically, Mackey became the first Fortune 500 CEO blogger when he posted an entry in September 2005. However, Mackey posts sporadically, amassing only seven entries in the first year of his blog. His posts, which are often repurposed writings, are long, detailed and clearly well-researched, but they lack the spontaneity and conversational tone commonly associated with blogs.

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Rick Wagoner (General Motors) – In late July 2006, the GM CEO authored a post on the company’s FastLane Blog. The blog, which originally featured contributions by vice chairman Bob Lutz and now contains posts from several employees, usually addresses GM products and programs. Wagoner, however, used the medium to make his case that the company was making significant progress with its turnaround plan. The post came shortly after GM had released its second-quarter earnings and addressed several specific company developments that had already been explained to analysts. The entry garnered dozens of comments, some supportive and others critical of the company’s actions.

Gary Kelly (Southwest Airlines) – When news broke that Southwest was exploring the idea of abandoning the company’s well-known open-seating policy, CEO Gary Kelly posted on the company’s blog, Nuts About Southwest, which launched in April 2006. Kelly’s entry clarified rumors circulating about the Southwest policy and promised further communication to customers. The post generated more than 600 comments from readers. Kelly has since added two additional posts to the blog: one asking for advice on a Halloween costume (complete with pictures of him from previous years dressed as Gene Simmons of the rock band KISS and Wild Bill Hickok) and a follow-up entry providing an update on research into the company’s boarding policies.

EFFECTIVENESS OF COMMUNICATIONS CHANNELS
Repeating the pattern of previous year’s studies, in-person communication was listed by corporate communicators as the most effective form of communication, followed by e-mail and the company intranet.

What channel do you find most effective for communicating to employees?
1% 2% 2% 4% 16%
In-Person E-mail Intranet Print Telephone

75%

Wiki

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15

Print versus electronic The low rating of print publications versus electronic mediums, both in terms of usage and effectiveness, suggests that communicators at leading organizations have embraced electronic communication as the primary approach to reach employees. Given the size of industry-leading organizations and the diversity of their operations, electronic tools pose several advantages over print communications: • Connects a global workplace – Online tools provide platforms for corporate communicators to reach diverse sections of employees and allow workers in different countries, sites and locations to communicate and collaborate. • Audience segmentation/moderation – Online tools allow for targeted one-to-one, one-tomany, many-to-many and many-to-one forms of communications, depending on the context and goals of the efforts. • Real-time – Constant connectivity means communications can be received the moment they are distributed and automatically updated as new information develops. • Inexpensive – Decreasing broadband and bandwidth costs, combined with savings in printing and shipping costs, mean that online tools can provide organizations with significant savings for communications. • More context – By providing an expanded space for information, a linked environment and improved search tools, employees can have access to specific information sent, as well as to related information that’s communicated on an ongoing basis. • More dynamic – Corporate communicators can use online video and audio capabilities to make communications more engaging for stakeholders. • Document trail – By storing and tracking communications, as well as by providing the ability to follow changes in information, new media channels can document the evolution of communications in organizations. • Greater feedback – Electronic communications provide an easy and intuitive outlet for individuals to collaborate on business operations and strategy, allowing for immediate and personalized feedback directly to the communicator or user. • More conversational – Often more free-flowing and informal, online communications often seem less “corporate” and provide a forum for candid discussions. • Measurement – Online tools let corporate communicators track the use and comprehension of material more accurately, allowing for segmentation analysis and documentation of behavior change.

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New media effectiveness

Provide your opinion of the usefulness of each channel as a tool to communicate with employees*
50

47%

40%

29%

Percentage

40 30 20 10 0
Wikis Podcasts Blogs

*Percent listing useful or very useful

One reason that podcasts may be more attractive than blogs is that they’re a controlled medium. Podcasts can be scripted and edited, and while many podcasts solicit feedback from listeners, those comments are not open for viewing the way they are with blogs and wikis. However, the lack of interaction among users also means that podcasts are a poor communication channel to promote collaboration or to identify issues within the organization. Different channels for different goals While new media is often viewed as a group, each channel offers distinct advantages and disadvantages. Effective use of new media in organizations must consider the goals of communications and look to match the appropriate medium in order to leverage messages. Culture Change – Blogs were listed as the second-most-favorable form of communication for culture change, trailing only in-person meetings, and one of only two channels to receive a majority of favorable ratings. The ability of blogs to create a community around issues and events makes them a powerful tool for culture change. By providing a channel for management and employees to share stories, and creating a forum for more open discussion, blogs can help shape a more aware and inclusive organization. “Blogs can help bring humanity back into the workplace,” says Michael Wiley, senior vice president with Edelman’s me2revolution, who formerly served as Director of Global Communications Technology and New Media at General Motors. “We have become so concerned with communicating numbers and processes that employees have forgotten how to build relationships. How can companies ask employees to provide superior service and innovative thinking when everything they see and hear flies in the face of that? Blogs help create a culture that supports those behaviors.”

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Rate each communications channel with regards to culture change*
100 80 60 40 20 0
In-Person Intranet E-mail Blogs Podcasts Wikis Print

Percentage

97%

47%

38%

54%

38%

27%

47%

*Percent listing useful or very useful
Collaboration – Surprisingly, e-mail rated highly as a collaborative channel, viewed as the second-most-favorable tool behind in-person communication; however, this may have been in part due to the frequency of e-mail use and not an accurate reflection of its benefits. In fact, while e-mail can be a vehicle to promote collaboration, it’s not in itself a collaborative form of technology because it does not provide a shared space for individuals to contribute simultaneously - like a chat or wiki would. Wikis, which allow many users to provide input in a shared and evolving space, also scored high in terms of usefulness for collaboration.

Rate each communications channel with regards to collaboration*
100 80 60 40 20 0
In-Person Intranet E-mail Blogs Podcasts Wikis Print

Percentage

95%

53%

65%

38%

15%

56%

17%

*Percent listing useful or very useful
Training – This is the area in which organizations appear to rely most heavily on traditional communications methods such as in-person, intranet and print communications (print communications received its highest favorability rating for training). This is not unexpected, as training is likely to be a more prescriptive, top-down form of communications that might not benefit from the collaborative nature of many new media tools. The form of new media scoring highest for training is podcasting, which offers an engaging way to communicate information and largely lacks the two-way aspect of other new media channels. Several leading organizations including Capital One, Xerox and National Semiconductor have begun distributing MP3 players to employees to facilitate training programs and information sharing through podcasts.

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Rate each communications channel with regard to training*
100 80 60 40 20
What is RSS (Really Simple Syndication)? RSS (sometimes called web feeds or RSS streams) is a category of online feeds of information that allow people to subscribe to internet content that others have syndicated. In essence, RSS means that people can receive updates on material from numerous Web sites, blogs, podcasts, etc. without ever having to navigate to the pages where the information is housed. RSS feeds are received through aggregators, also commonly referred to as feed readers, which can collect and organize numerous feeds. The result is that individuals can self-select the information they want to receive and the material is delivered in near real-time and in an unobtrusive manner. RSS feeds can be used to supply people with information from a variety of sources: mainstream publications like The New York Times or Wall Street Journal, blogs on industries and companies, Google search results, etc. Feed readers can be Webbased, incorporated into e-mail or embedded into existing Web pages.

Percentage

92%

71%

30%

9%

46%

31%

55%

0

In-Person

Intranet

E-mail

Blogs

Podcasts

Wikis

Print

*Percent listing useful or very useful

Media Monitoring – No communication channel received a majority of favorable ratings for media monitoring. E-mail and blogs scored highest, with both tools able to easily categorize and store information.

Rate the usefulness of each communications channel with regards to media monitoring*
50 40 30 20 10 0
In-Person Intranet E-mail Blogs Podcasts Wikis Print

Percentage

18%

29%

41%

37%

6%

13%

18%

*Percent listing useful or very useful

Trend Analysis/Tracking – Overall, the favorability ratings for trend analysis and tracking were relatively low, with only blogs garnering high marks from more than one-third of respondents. Blogs offer employees the ability to aggregate information on a variety of topics, helping workers identify topics of increased interest. In addition, Really Simple Syndication (RSS, see box on side) feeds allow employees to track developments in the organization and the marketplace in near real-time.

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Rate the usefulness of each communications channel with regards to trend analysis/tracking*
35 30

26%

28%

29%

35%

14%

22%

19%

Percentage

25 20 15 10 5 0
In-Person Intranet E-mail Blogs Podcasts Wikis Print

*Percent listing useful or very useful
Identifying Employee Issues – In-person communications is the preferred way to identify what’s on workers’ minds. Among new media tools, blogs were considered the most favorable. Monitoring blog posts and comments by employees can be a useful way for communicators to gauge employee opinions.

Rate the usefulness of each communications channel with regards to identifying employee issues*
100 80 60 40 20 0
In-Person Intranet E-mail Blogs Podcasts Wikis Print

Percentage

96%

42%

40%

58%

11%

24%

15%

*Percent listing useful or very useful
Knowledge Management – The highest-rated communications channels for knowledge management are in-person, intranet and e-mail. However, while these communications channels are currently viewed as the most favorable, none provides a robust solution to knowledge for a large and complex organization. In particular, in-person communication, which lacks a distinct method to capture and store information, is a poor long-term knowledge management solution. E-mail and intranet also have limited capability to search information and provide context. “In business, there is a need to change how we manage information,” says iUpload’s Carter. “If I want to share my business plan, chances are I e-mail it to people who I think need to see it. However, new employees don’t have a historical inbox of information. Workers that retire or quit don’t have their e-mail inboxes made public as a company asset and when someone changes roles their expertise goes with them. That knowledge is gone forever.” The form of new media that scored the highest for knowledge management was wikis, which allow multiple users to contribute to a shared library of information.

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20

Rate the usefulness of each communications channel with regards to knowledge management*
100

85%

85%

70%

25%

41%

56%

53%

Percentage

80 60 40 20 0
In-Person Intranet E-mail Blogs Podcasts Wikis Print

*Percent listing useful or very useful
These responses demonstrate that communications channels cannot be seen as isolated tools. Rather, corporate communicators have available an array of options to reach employees and should adopt channels dependent upon the communications goals and organizational environment. Furthermore, the results show the value of using a mix of communications channels to best reach employees and impact knowledge, attitudes and behaviors.

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FACING THE REALITIES OF MODERN COMMUNICATIONS
Tracking employee blogging A mere 13 percent of respondents noted that their organizations monitor blogging by employees, while nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of communicators didn’t even know if their companies track employee blog activity. However, when one considers that 9 percent of American adult Internet users keep a blog, it’s unlikely that any leading organization does not have employee bloggers. Furthermore, the number of blog authors jumps to 19 percent among American Internet users ages 12 to 17 and 20 percent among those 22 to 28, meaning that a generation accustomed to contributing thoughts online will soon be entering the workplace.6 Given that 76 percent of bloggers write about personal experiences and 35 percent of bloggers note that colleagues, co-workers or bosses are aware of their blog, content may often touch on workplace issues and have an impact on organizational culture.7 The fact that an organization does not sanction blogging does not mean employees are not talking about the company online.

Does your organization track blogging by employees?

How many conversations are you missing?

13%

Yes No I'm not sure

23%

64%

One possible explanation for the lack of monitoring of employee communications online is that it is often viewed as the purview of the IT or HR department. However, since public blogs can have a significant effect on the organization’s reputation, it’s imperative that corporate communicators be aware of the conversations taking place among stakeholders. This is crucial to identify any ethical lapses or inaccurate information and rumors. Additionally, monitoring internal and external blog content can help identify employee opinions and perceptions – serving as an organic focus group. Furthermore, identifying employees who are interested in new media or who are vocal in online communities can help build evangelists for products and initiatives. Not surprisingly, companies that have a blog are significantly more likely to track employees’ blogging. These organizations recognize that paying attention to the conversations taking place online is a valuable way to protect corporate reputation and gain insight into employee attitudes.

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Does your organization track blogging by employees?*
25 20 15 10 5 0
Organizations that have a blog Organizations that do not have a blog

Percentage

23%

8%

*Difference is significant at a 90% confidence interval
Corporate communicators should understand that the only necessary cost associated with monitoring is the time commitment. There are several free services available online that allow people to track online conversations about companies, brands and employees (several organizations, including Edelman, offer monitoring services to companies for a fee). However, while automated services will aggregate mentions of terms, individuals must still review content to determine context and significance.

What is holding you back?

Obstacles to online tools – debunking the myths This year, we asked communicators to list what they perceived as the greatest obstacles to the implementation of new media technologies in their organizations. The results demonstrate that the hesitancy to implement new media stems largely from a misunderstanding of the infrastructure requirements for the technology and a resistance to experiment with channels unfamiliar to the organization. We examine the top ten listed obstacles: 1. Inadequate resources (time and/or money) – When weighed against the amount of money that corporate communicators spend on publication production, media monitoring services and intranet design, new media initiatives can results in tremendous cost savings. In addition, many industry-leading organizations are outsourcing tasks like blog tracking and conversation monitoring to agencies. 2. Disconnected employees – Many new media advocates often forget that a significant portion of employee populations at leading organizations do not have daily Internet access at work. These workers should not be ignored and online strategies can be designed with complementary or redundant offline materials that ensure all employees have the opportunity for engagement. Aggregating information online can help identify pressing issues and make subsequent offline efforts more efficient and relevant. 3. Resistance to change – People are wary of strategies they’re not familiar with, so it’s up to corporate communicators to make the business case for change.

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4. Desire to control communication/fear of unknown – By adopting new media within organizations and effectively communicating policies, communicators actually gain more access to conversations. There’s a perception that empowering new media among employees will result in a flood of complaints, leaked information and inappropriate conduct. However, corporate communicators often do not recognize the moderation and security levels possible with these channels – the most secure of which is to keep participation internal. Furthermore, information that is inappropriate to distribute through new media is likely to be inappropriate when communicated through any medium. 5. Not convinced of benefits – Communicators must make a business case for new media, demonstrating how improved communications and engagement will allow employees to better execute organizational goals. The low barrier of entry into new media, particularly with internal implementation, means that the risk is minimal compared to the rewards. 6. Perceived lack of IT capabilities – Many organizations are working with third-parties to implement new media channels, either adapting products to their needs or allowing for secure, external hosting. The result is that minimal infrastructure is required to reap the benefits of new media and most tools can be seamlessly integrated into existing IT structures. While IT should certainly be consulted on new media initiatives, it is corporate communications that should be driving, and maintaining, the programs. 7. Culture not accepting – New media should never be forced on a community that’s not ready for it. Corporate communicators can shape new media implementation, including the restrictions and policies associated with it, to reflect and support existing organizational culture. 8. Senior management won’t allow it – In situations where executives resist the implementation of new media, it is incumbent upon corporate communicators to make a case for adoption. “A lot of research was done before we launched our blog, listing the potential pitfalls and the pros and cons,” says Southwest’s Vargo. “Having that research done allowed us to say to leadership, ‘We understand this is a bit of a leap and seems scary, but the rewards far outweigh the risks.’ In the end it was actually a pretty easy sell.” When possible, build a prototype or test a new media program among a sample group of employees. 9. Legal/governance/regulation issues – As mentioned earlier, the legal/governance/regulation issues associated with new media are likely to be covered by existing company guidelines concerning communications, confidentiality and ethics. In addition, the accountability built into new media participation can deter inappropriate activities. 10. Would require too much training – Effective new media tools are intuitive and offer a low barrier to entry. The only obligatory training around these tools is in relation to policies and ethics associated with the media. The larger issue is engaging employees in contributing and using content, something that will be influenced by culture, leadership and communications strategy.

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Creating a culture of communication The data reveals that organizations that currently implement social media are less likely to restrict employee access to online information but are more likely to develop policies around the use of new media technologies. Does your organization prohibit the use of instant messaging from its computers?
80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0

Does your organization have guidelines or a policy in place regarding employee blogging?
60 50 40 30 20 10 0
Organization Organization Organization Organization Organization Organization with blog without blog with blog without blog with blog without blog

24%

27%

72%

59%

4%

14%

Percentage

Percentage

48%

25%

44%

60%

8%

16%

Organization Organization Organization Organization Organization Organization with blog without blog with blog without blog with blog without blog

Yes

No

Not sure

Yes

No

Not sure

Does your organization have a policy prohibiting employees from posting on external chat rooms and message boards?
100 80 60 40 20 0
Organization Organization Organization Organization Organization Organization with blog without blog with blog without blog with blog without blog

Does your organization block access to any Web sites?
100

84%

91%

12%

7%

4%

2%

Percentage

15%

23%

81%

57%

4%

20%

Percentage

80 60 40 20 0
Organization Organization Organization Organization Organization Organization with blog without blog with blog without blog with blog without blog

Yes

No

Not sure

Yes

No

Not sure

This demonstrates that the use of new media technologies is both a product and reflection of the culture of an organization. By taking a strategic approach to the use of new media technologies, communicators can ensure that the tools used align with and support either the existing or desired organizational culture.

Does your organization prohibit the use of instant messaging (IM) from its computers?
12% 26%
Yes No I'm not sure

62%

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One of the strongest arguments in favor of implementing new media technologies within an enterprise is that employees are likely already using them. With all the free blogs, wikis, podcasts, instant messaging (IM) platforms and message boards available on the Internet, employees are able to use a variety of tools to communicate both inside and outside the office. Workers who use one communication channel outside of work and are prevented from using that medium at the office may become frustrated and reject existing structures. By implementing new media technologies, companies are able to keep more conversations inside of the organization, in a form that they are able to manage. This means that they can more easily regulate identity, track participation and identify issues as they arise. Another significant benefit of adopting these tools internally is that the organization then has ownership of all the intellectual property produced through the communications. When former Microsoft employee and popular blogger Robert Scoble left the company earlier this year, he took his site, which is run through the blog platform WordPress and read by thousands of people each day, with him. If employees use tools outside of the organization, then information housed there is tied to the worker and will be lost if that individual leaves.

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ACCESS TO ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATIONS
Recognizing the digital divide Organizations looking to implement new media technologies need to recognize the digital divide that exists in many companies. At nearly one-third (32 percent) of leading organizations, up to 50 percent of the employee population does not have daily access to a computer at work. Corporate communicators need to find ways to keep these workers, who often have customer service or production responsibilities, aligned with business strategy. With their ability to aggregate information inside the company in a variety of ways, new media tools package communications in a form that can be easily taken offline. Communicators, who ideally are paying attention to conversations among employees, can identify the most meaningful and relevant information. In fact, the use of new media within an organization can help reduce the resources and time necessary to produce other communications such as printed internal newsletters.

What percentage of your employees have access to a computer at work?
8% 5% 7% 8% 24%
100% 91% - 99% 81% - 90% 71% - 80% 61% - 70%

17% 7% 14%
Accommodating the 24-hour work cycle

51% - 60% 41% - 50%

7%

3%

31% - 40% 21% - 30% I'm not sure

Companies are more willing to allow employees to access their work e-mail from home than they are to provide off-site intranet access. While some of this may be related to the IT issues of remote intranet access, by eliminating a credible source of company information organizations invite employees to look elsewhere.

What percentage of your organization’s employees have access to the intranet from home?
Have access Do not have access

38%

62%

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What percentage of your organization’s employees have access to e-mail from home?
13%
Have access Do not have access

87%

The easier companies make it to access relevant communications provided by the organization, the more likely it is that individual will view the company as a credible and meaningful source.

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WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOUR ORGANIZATION
None of these new media technologies in and of themselves are truly innovative in terms of what they offer – blogs and wikis are simply easy-to-update Web sites and podcasting is merely a new way to transmit audio files. What has changed are the expectations individuals have of the ways they create, receive and share information. Today communications need to be relevant, interactive, portable and immediate. If organizations are not able to reach employees, or workers cannot access the information they want, when they want it, the result is likely to be a disengaged employee. “Communicators who dismiss new media technologies do their employees and organizations a disservice,” says Jeffrey Treem, analyst with Edelman Change and Employee Engagement. “The pace of change is quickening and communications structures need to adjust to meet the demands of the modern business landscape.” In fact, new media technologies are likely to become ever more engrained in our everyday lives. Newspapers such as The Washington Post are allowing consumers to comment on every story online and providing links to bloggers writing on related topics, in effect, turning each article into a blog post. The current generation of Web browsers have RSS feed readers built in, allowing people to subscribe to material with the click of a mouse, regardless of whether they know the technology. The use of podcasts exploded last year when people were able to listen and download shows, many of them free, through Apple’s popular iTunes Music Store. Corporate communicators need to take the responsibility of educating themselves and their organizations about new media technologies. The communications landscape is changing quickly and organizations need to be able to adjust their strategies accordingly to maintain a competitive advantage. Three times as many 18- to 26-year-olds read blogs as do adults ages 41 to 50, meaning a generation accustomed to new media technologies will soon be flooding the workforce.8 The results of this study are not meant to argue that new media is a panacea for internal communications in organizations. Rather, they point to the need for communicators to consider a range of options to match the medium with the message. A strategic approach to internal communications can be a key differentiator for your organization, helping to engage employees and drive business results.

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METHODOLOGY
• Senior communicators at Fortune 500 companies and clients identified as industry-leading organizations were sent an invitation to participate in the study. In total, 787 survey invitations were e-mailed to prospective participants. • 138 responded, resulting in 111 complete surveys. This provided a participation rate of 18 percent and a response rate of 14 percent. • 75 Fortune 500 companies participated in the study. • Participating Companies include: 3M, Abbott Laboratories, Allstate, American Airlines, American Express, Aon, AstraZeneca, Boeing, BRP, Caterpillar, Coca-Cola, Dell, Delta Air Lines, Disney, DTE Energy, Eastman Kodak, EDS, General Electric, General Mills, General Motors, Goodyear Tire & Rubber, Hewlett-Packard, H.J. Heinz, Honda, Honeywell, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, McDonalds, Microsoft, Motorola, Nissan, Office Depot, PepsiCo, Pfizer, Progress Energy, RadioShack, ServiceMaster, Shell, Starbucks, T-Mobile, The Walt Disney Company, UPS, Wendy’s, Whirlpool, Wrigley, Xerox, Yum! Brands.

VALIDITY
Although every attempt was made to make these results representative of the current internal communications environment at leading organizations, we recognize that this is not a scientific study and that there are several threats to the validity of the data: • Although the sample size of 111 completed surveys is adequate for the population, this number was smaller for several questions due to the fact that we had multiple respondents from some companies, and a limited number of companies currently implement new media technologies. This resulted in a small sample size for some questions, and those results cannot be said to reflect the population. • Lack of familiarity with new media technologies may have biased respondents to a neutral view on the effectiveness of channels. • Because one of the purposes of the study was to examine the use and effectiveness of new media technologies, we likely received a disproportionate number of responses from individuals currently using, or planning to implement new media technologies in their internal communications mix. • Although the survey was sent via dedicated links to senior-level communicators at each organization, we cannot say with any certainty that their answers and opinions accurately reflect the communications environment in their respective companies. • Comparisons to previous years’ data may be misrepresentative of actual trends due to differences in participant enrollment and the varied demographics of participating companies.

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ENDNOTES
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Sifry, David. “State of the Blogosphere, October, 2006.” Technorati. 6 Nov. 2006. <http://technorati.com/weblog/2006/11/161.html> Klau, Rick. “Expanding Universe: Podcasting Market Update.” Burning Questions: the Official FeedBurner Weblog Weblog. 18 Apr. 2006. <http://blogs.feedburner.com/feedburner/archives/001755.html>. Wikipedia.org and /www.britannica.com/premium “Internet Activites.” Pew Internet & American Life Project 19 July 2006. Project. <http://www.pewinternet.org/trends/Internet_Activities_7.19.06.htm>. Hammersly, Ben. “Audible Revolution.” The Guardian. 12 Feb. 2006. <http://technology.guardian.co.uk/online/story/0,,1145689,00.html> Fox, Susannah, and Mary Madden. “Generations Online.” Pew Internet & American Life Project 22 Jan. 2006. Project. <http://www.pewinternet.org/pdfs/PIP_Generations_Memo.pdf>. Lenhart, Amanda, and Susannah Fox. “Bloggers: a Portrait of the Internet’s New Storytellers.” Pew Internet & American Life Project 19 July 2006. Project. <http://www.pewinternet.org/pdfs/PIP%20Bloggers%20Report%20July%2019%202006.pdf>. Li, Charlene. “Listen Up Marketers: 24% of Gen Yers Read Blogs.” Charlene Li’s Blog 11 Sept. 2006. Blog. <http://blogs.forrester.com/charleneli/2006/09/listen_up_marke.html>.

8

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CONTACTS
If you would like to learn more about how your organization can use a variety of new and traditional communications channels to effectively reach and engage employees, contact: Jeffrey Treem Analyst Edelman Change and Employee Engagement Group jeffrey.treem@edelman.com +1 312 233 1340 Gary Grates President and Global Director Edelman Change and Employee Engagement Group gary.grates@edelman.com +1 212 704 8184 Kate Feather Vice President PeopleMetrics kfeather@people-metrics.com +1 215 979 8037

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