14 compelling internal communication campaigns

Take inspiration from these employee-empowering examples of scintillating corporate storytelling.

14 killer comms campaigns

We are rerunning the most-viewed articles of 2019. This was one of the top five most-popular internal communication articles of the year.

You have a job to do: Get your message across, and make it stick.

It sounds simple enough, but it’s not. Crafting a compelling internal communication campaign requires:

  • A clear objective
  • Stakeholder research
  • Thoughtful implementation
  • Measurable business impact
  • A sprinkle of creative magic

What does that look like in the real world? Here are 14 stellar examples of successful internal communication campaigns:

1. HSBC Now: Photo competition

The HSBC global communications team transformed the bank’s approach to gathering visual assets—with zero budget.

How? They put content creation into the hands of their employees.

HSBC’s comms team launched a companywide photography competition asking employees to capture the spirit of HSCB, across six categories. The team ended up with more than 6,000 image submissions.

HSBC now uses these staff-snapped photos throughout their internal comms materials—in presentations and reports and on the intranet.

The bank has saved money on mediocre, impersonal stock photos, and it’s raised the employee engagement bar.

It’s a simple yet award-winning campaign that’s yielded a profound impact.

2. Siemens Hull: “Creating a Culture of Excellence”

Siemens Hull was looking to forge and clarify a robust, distinctive culture while welcoming 1,000 new employees.

Hull combined eye-catching wall designs with genuine employee insights to craft an immersive onboarding experience.

Now, as team members walk from the parking lot, through the offices to the factory floor, they can see the company’s culture laid out before them—expressed in their own words and with their own faces looking back at them.

3. Lowes: Customer stories

Effective campaigns don’t require big budgets and elaborate design; maximizing available resources can also deliver exceptional results.

Lowes Manhattan was eager to become more customer focused, so it turned to its intranet as a platform for sharing customer stories.

Lowes created “Customer Care News,” which offers a window into the customer experience. It’s a simple yet effective way to acknowledge staff achievements while putting the customer front and center.

Whenever a customer gives a compliment or provides feedback, it’s published on the intranet, which serves as a great recognition system and a reminder of the importance of superb customer service.

4. MidMichigan Health: “One Person, One Record”

The leadership team at MidMichigan Health was at a cultural crossroads.

The hospital’s existing medical record system was on the way out, and leaders were tasked with uniting 7,000 employees, physicians and volunteers to reexamine clinical and business workflows—all this while continuing to provide top-notch patient care.

How on Earth did they do it? Well, as it happens, they left Earth behind.

The team launched a space-themed communications campaign titled “One Person, One Record.” The communications team delivered it in four phases: Kickoff, Mission Prep, Mission Control, and Liftoff.

The chief executive wore a spacesuit to the campaign kickoff—boldly going where no CEO has gone before.

5. Kerry Foods: “Trailblazers”

In 2017, the Kerry Foods team launched a “Trailblazers” campaign, which asked employees to come up with new ideas for snacks, drinks and technology that the company could take to market.

Drawing inspiration from “Dragon’s Den” and “Shark Tank,” employees made their pitches, went on monthlong bootcamps and were given the space to develop ideas.

The campaign generated more than 800 ideas from across the business, and employee engagement scores went through the roof.

Kerry Foods’ HR director, Emma Rose, said, “The big thing about it was around building belief in the business that we want everyone to contribute to where we’re going and to be excited about the products we take to market.”

6. InnerSurf Online: Onboarding check sheet

Great onboarding can improve employee retention by a whopping 82%.

Tracy Repchuk, founder of InnerSurf Online Brand & Web Services, was ahead of the game when her business launched the staff orientation check sheet.

Before starting anything else, new recruits are asked to work through this online resource—absorbing core values, filling out forms, learning about the website and getting familiar with tools the company uses.

Housing all relevant onboarding materials in one easily accessible place is a savvy way to set employees up for success.

7. BC Pension: Podcasts

As part of a nine-year plan to overhaul its business model, BC Pension took an innovative approach to turning overwhelmed employees into change advocates.

BC Pension launched two podcasts:

  • “At the Table with Laura,” a series featuring CEO Laura Nashman chatting with change management experts.
  • “StaffCast,” a podcast showcasing employee perspectives on the changes taking place.

The CEO-centric podcast was designed to reassure employees that their leaders have a clear vision of where the company is and where it should be going.

The employee-driven podcast gives a voice to the people on the front line of change. It helps employees understand how they fit into the grand scheme of things, and it provides a forum for sharing concerns, strategies and personal stories.

This initiative won BC Pension first place in the “Podcast” category of Ragan’s Employee Communication awards.

BC Pension’s company video is inspiring, too.

8. West Midlands Railway: “Hear to Listen”

During a period of franchise change, West Midlands Railway knew that employees would need ongoing support to handle the tumult. This grew into a broader message about mental health and the power of listening.

The campaign started with educating senior managers to be “Mental Health First Aiders”—equipping them with skills to deal with people in crisis and facilitate difficult conversations.

In an RSSB blog post, Lesley Health, head of safety and environment, says:

“Hear to Listen” isn’t even about mental health per se, but about saying we’re operating in a culture that wants to sit down and talk with you about how you are.

Storytelling is a crucial component of the campaign, with employees volunteering to tell their personal stories in videos shared on the company intranet.

Creating a workplace that prioritizes mental health is about incrementally building a culture of trust—combining empathetic senior management with employees who are empowered to tell their stories.

9. Herbert Smith Freehills: “Cyber Sharp”

Cyber security is important, but it’s not the most thrilling topic for most people.

The team at Herbert Smith Freehills had employees attend training sessions relating to common security concerns such as phishing and information management. Employees took part in interactive group exercises, which included a facilitator who used social engineering techniques to convince participants that he already knew them.

This communications initiative won an IOIC award for being engaging and approachable—with an excellent use of simulating risk scenarios.

10. Actelion: Multi-faceted campaign

To build buzz around the launch of Uptavi, a new hypertension drug, Actelion wanted to educate, engage and energize its employees.

Under the credo “More is Possible,” the team created a microsite and redesigned its intranet homepage. Visual pieces were installed on windows, floors and stairs around the office.


Actelion communicators also developed an interactive quiz that recognized weekly winners with prizes.

11. Asendia: Gamification

Things were changing at Asendia—a mail services provider. Core products across e-commerce, publishing and marketing were aligning, and employees needed to understand what was happening.

Asendia created an employee training and education program, which included a board game. The board game used a fun gamification element to communicate crucial changes and boost employee engagement.


12. Duarte Inc.: Employee recognition

Sometimes a simple mascot can make a big difference.

When a stressful time hit the team at Duarte, leaders decided that adopting a giraffe as a sort of company mascot could help. The idea crystallized further when Nancy Duarte, the company’s founder, learned that a herd of giraffes is called a “tower”—the perfect symbol of strength.

As Duarte points out in this HR Daily Advisor article:

Giraffes live in groups, are not territorial, and rarely get into tussles—which seems like a fitting symbol for a collegial work environment.

Now, Duarte’s recognition program is called “Giraffirmations.”

13. Cotton On Group: “Keeping It Real”

Cotton On Group’s communications team has the daunting task of reaching 22,000 team members across 18 countries.

The team’s “Keeping It Real” campaign set out to present its employees as a force to be reckoned with. The company’s intranet is its key culture-building platform.

Cotton On Best Internal Communications

As Rachel Jones, group digital communications manager, puts it, “It’s a place to tell the stories of our brilliant team members—to celebrate their wins and to recognize the incredible things we achieve together as a global family.”

14. Doc Martens: “On the Record”

“On the Record” was an internal newspaper featuring articles written by employees.

To report on financial performance in an engaging way, the publication included a comic strip called “Mr. Mortimore Money Man,” named after the company’s CFO.

The campaign also included a “brand book” made up of vinyl records featuring the company’s core values.

Doc Martens Best Internal Communications

Back to you

Though these campaigns differ in scope, complexity and budget, they have basic best practices in common:

  • Tell genuine, emotional stories with words, photos and video.
  • Use catchy campaign names, metaphors and mascots.
  • Put employees front and center.
  • Think outside the box, and have fun.

Which campaign is your favorite? Know other examples of compelling internal communication campaigns? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.

A version of this post first appeared on the GreenOrbit blog.


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