Internal Communications Takes Flight
with Secure Two-Way Dialogue
- Internal Communication
- Email Newsletters
Whether by air, sea, or land, Jeppesen is intent on transforming the way the world moves. This subsidiary of The Boeing Company manufactures the informational products, services, and software that help industry professionals navigate their way to destinations safely and effectively.
While the company's aviation group is an ace at working with customers, there was still room to improve when it came to employee communications, says Breanne Davis, Internal Communications Specialist. "We had all of this information - about products that were going to market, contracts that we had won, and solutions that had been deployed, but there was a disconnect with our employees. We weren't communicating with them proactively."
Hired to create the internal communications function for the aviation group, which comprises more than 900 employees, Davis saw an opportunity “to use technology to reach out to our employees and engage them with the company’s mission and vision – as well as our successes,” she says.
Davis knew just what she was looking for in a new technology partner: a company that focused exclusively on internal communications, provided multi-page email newsletters, and offered rich reporting capabilities. "There are so few vendors in the market that met these criteria it was an easy choice to select EmailOpen," says Davis.
As a seasoned communicator, Davis had a clear vision for the company email newsletter she wanted to create, On the Radar, which would be distributed to employees on a monthly basis. "EmailOpen was a real partner in helping us achieve what we wanted to do," says Davis. "We spent a lot of time on the front end designing an email newsletter that was clean and eye-catching. One of the great things about working in internal communications is that we can flex our brand muscles, experimenting with the look and feel as long as we're consistent with the overall standards."
Creating Opportunities for Interaction
- Breanne Davis.
To promote usability and engagement, Davis requested several new features: adding a home link and a comment feature on the landing page and following each issue's featured article with several other stories. "One of my goals with creating my internal communications strategy for the company was to promote two-way dialogue as much as possible. Our employees are used to sharing thoughts and comments in the offline world, so we wanted to add the comment functionality to our newsletter to increase online interaction," she says. Adding a commenting capability to the landing page ensured that employees could see this feature immediately and were more motivated to use it. "They started some intriguing conversations," says Davis.
The internal communications email newsletter launched in November 2011. "It was a new tool that a lot of people hadn't seen before in terms of look and feel and functionality," says Davis, "so it really cut through the noise. It gave staff a compelling reason to learn more about the company."
Testing and Learning
The employee email newsletter achieved a 50% unique open rate on its very first issue, but only realized a 15% readership rate for its main story. However, with rich data, including open rates, click-throughs, and comments, Davis was able to refine and target her content mix for higher read rates. "Our goal was to achieve a consistent 30% readership rate for our main story, and we achieved that," she says. One of her big a-has was that employees didn't always read the stories she expected to be most popular. "You'd think that the most-read stories would be about big product launches or company milestones, but they weren't," says Davis. "Our readers liked the employee appreciation stories and team profiles. So we decided to focus more on the human element and less on the corporate successes." Davis said her ability to demonstrate ongoing improvement was very impressive to the company's leaders. "This wasn't something they had seen before. The metrics gave me actual ROI for the internal communications function – and my position."
Several months into the launch, Davis contacted EmailOpen with an urgent request: Jeppesen's legal team wanted to implement an additional security measure to protect company intellectual property. Hosted on EmailOpen's website, the aviation group's newsletters were already safeguarded by encryption, firewalls, and authentication controls, but Davis decided that it was time to step it up another level. She and the EmailOpen team brainstormed another approach to enhance the security of email newsletter content: an IP address recognition solution.
Delivering Top-Notch Security
In just two days, Davis was able to propose and acquire legal approval for the proposed solution. Jeppesen provided EmailOpen with a list of all corporate IP addresses, which EmailOpen then enabled for each newsletter story in every issue. This new feature provided exceptional security, requiring employees to access the newsletter from corporate offices or via their VPN when traveling or at home, thus eliminating the possibility of any unauthorized usage. "We had the new solution implemented in two weeks: The speed was incredible," says Davis
Davis says the experience of working with EmailOpen was totally seamless. "We were a small account but you would never have known it. From their initial investment in our launch to their willingness to roll out new features, EmailOpen was willing to find out-of-the-box solutions for our unique needs," she says.
Meet Breanne Davis
Breanne Davis is responsible for the strategic direction, leadership, and execution of the internal communications program for Jeppesen's 2,500-person aviation group. In this capacity, she's built the internal communications function and tools to foster two-way dialogue between managers and employees. Previously, she served in communications roles at Denver Public Schools, CoBiz Financial, Tata Consultancy Services, and J.D. Edwards.