How Lockheed Martin optimized its internal and external messaging mix

Despite a complex audience, a streamlined approach yields results for Lockheed Martin.

How Lockheed Martin tweaked its communications strategy for internal and external audiences.

A unified, integrated content plan among internal and external communications teams is key to reaching target audiences.

Lockheed Martin Director of Digital Communications John Yembrick shared his insights Wednesday at the Ragan Communications Strategic Communications Conference at Microsoft Headquarters in Redmond, Wash.

Yembrick said a customer-driven simple message works with all audiences and can help drive engagement.

Why a simpler message was needed at Lockheed Martin

Before Yembrick joined the defense company, he said Lockheed Martin approached messaging with many social media posts which wasn’t leading to engagement.

“We have four business areas at Lockheed Martin,” Yembrick said. “And each business area has their own communications team with different priorities.”

Lockheed Martin's John Yembrick speaks during Ragan Communications Strategic Communications Conference..

Lockheed Martin’s John Yembrick speaks during Ragan Communications Strategic Communications Conference. (Photo used with permission from Erin Patrick).

He told attendees that the messages sent from different departments wasn’t consistent and were reaching only a fraction of its intended audience.

“The government procurement process is complex,” Yembrick said. “You’re talking about elected officials in foreign governments, their staffers and investors. It’s just a whole web of different people you want to reach, but it’s a real audience that you can target.”

And that audience was a broader one, which takes a different type of message.

“I wanted to present our company as a good place to do business with and to work for,” he said. “And you do that by showcasing the good things about what our company does.”

‘Your messaging should be accessible to everyone’

Yembrick told attendees that there’s value to sharing similar messages internally and externally,

“Your messaging should be accessible to everyone,” he said.

As an example, he shared a video about what Lockheed Martin aims to do. The same message was also shared in a press release and all external and internal messages.

“We wove the same message (internal or external) on the video so it’s everywhere,” he said. “It’s this idea that you know the user experience is the same wherever they see it. It’s also a message penetration so if you’re trying to say something, you say it everywhere because you don’t know where everybody’s going to see it. ”

Don’t be afraid to experiment on social media

Yembrick also emphasized the importance of experimentation in social media. Even if the tests aren’t successful, you’ll have a better understanding of your audience and effective tactics.

He tested two hypotheses in separate, month-long tests: one that Lockheed Martin’s engagement would go up if the company posted less, and the other that using only photos would help drive results.

“We posted less and then everything went up,” Yembrick said. “Our engagement rates went up, our impressions went up, our average shares per post went up, and posting less was more effective for us. Quality over quantity. We were very selective because we posted one thing per day.”

He said he borrowed an idea from his time at NASA earlier this year and posted only images with simple captions for an entire month.

“We showed our products doing cool things,” Yembrick said. “Very simple, but the bottom line was that it worked,” he said. “You are talking about your capability, you’re teaching something to people, they’re learning something that’s not just images. I was really proud of the experiment, it performed really well.”

And Yembrick told attendees that Lockheed Martin was able to share use this idea to share its work with producers of “Top Gun: Maverick” to create a compelling message.

Chris Pugh is a staff writer for PR Daily. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn. Send story ideas to

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