REI’s internal hub gives voiceless employees a voice

A new WordPress employee communications platform, which includes an executive blog, encourages staff for the outdoor gear retailer to speak up and speak out.

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As a cooperative rather than a public company, REI can be a little more open about what’s going on, says Libby Catalinich, the company’s director of corporate communications. Catalinich will speak along with Internal Communications Manager Diana Kowalsky at Ragan’s Employee Communications, PR and Social Media Summit this October at Microsoft headquarters. Watch a 1-minute preview here.

For example, the company has issued detailed stewardship reports about its activism each year since 2006. CEO Sally Jewell delivers an annual message with detailed financial information.

And yet, quite a few of REI’s employees haven’t been able to step in and say much in response.

“We were struggling with, well, how do we get this information out to people on the floor selling stuff?” says Kowalsky.

This spring, the company’s communicators launched Around the Campfire, a WordPress tool that enables commenting for every employee, even those who don’t have REI email addresses. Among other features, the platform includes an executive blog that has become a thriving arena for discussion.

Building the ‘Campfire’

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