Especially in times of crisis, it’s critical that internal, external and executive communications teams collaborate to keep everyone informed and engaged. Walgreens demonstrated the importance of this interaction during the pandemic and helped reset the brand for future success.
Recently, we caught up with Fraser Engerman, senior director of external relations at Walgreens, who led that charge, to ask him a few questions. Engerman will be a speaker at Ragan and PR Daily’s upcoming Strategic Communications Conference at Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Washington, October 19-20.
Ragan: What tips can you share with other professionals looking to communicate more effectively?
Fraser Engerman: Practice your elevator speech! I constantly try to boil down what I need to communicate into some key soundbites. We are all bombarded with information, and it is often difficult to get the ear and attention of your stakeholders, no matter who they are. I try to provide the key points upfront and provide more detail as needed. This habit probably stems from my days as a television reporter when I had no more than a minute or two to get to the essence of the story.
What is the most important thing you’ve learned as a strategic comms pro so far?
Don’t sweat the small things. Life is full of small challenges. Try to keep your eye on the bigger picture. That is hard when you are used to putting out fires in the moment. It’s about making smart decisions and executing to the best of your ability.
How does your approach to communication differ from your colleagues in other fields?
Everyone has their own approach. My style has always been to be straightforward with no agenda other than to get the job done. I don’t believe in being the loudest voice in the room. Humor is central to how I navigate each day. The work is serious, but I never take myself too seriously and having a healthy dose of self-deprecating humor is a plus.
How do you stay up to date on the latest in the field? Are there any resources that you find particularly useful?
I try to read as much as I can from the latest industry publications. However, for me, reading the major dailies like the NY Times, Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal allow me to keep up on news that might not affect my work directly now but certainly can have an impact. Networking is another great way to keep up. Hopefully, as we ease out of the pandemic networking will be a priority (at least in person)!
At this year’s Strategic Communications Conference, you’re headlining a session on taking risks, beating adversity and creating a bold culture. Can you give our readers a sneak peek at what they can expect to learn?
I joined Walgreens at the height of the pandemic and had to assume responsibility for helping lead our external communications through one of the most intense and difficult periods in the company’s history. I learned how to take risks, step outside the comfort zone and keep a team together that was physically apart.
If you’d like to gain new strategic insights and communications strategies for internal and executive comms, public relations, marketing and social media, join us at Ragan and PR Daily’s Strategic Communications Conference, where speakers from Walgreens, Lockheed Martin, Microsoft, Pepsico, Facebook and more will share their ideas and success stories. Register today!
Jon Minnick is a conference producer for Ragan and PR Daily. Follow him on LinkedIn.