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Collaboration is its Own Reward

Purple SkyPhoto: Pixabay

“No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave.” – Calvin Coolidge

It all began with “It’s About Sharing Success.” Three years year, I’m still driven by this purpose. And for being committed to helping people succeed, I continue to be rewarded for my collaboration efforts.

I’m honored to be invited as a guest blogger for relevant resources that support global communicators. Recently, I collaborated with these two internal communication experts:

I’m also proud to support these highly interactive collaboration and learning events:

If these resources helped you, please pay it forward by sharing what you’ve learned with others. The rewards are greater than you may realize.

“Share your knowledge. It is a way to achieve immortality.” – Dalai Lama XIV

 

 

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Collaboration@Work: IC Kollectif Links Global Communicators with Key Resources and with Each Other

 

IMG957630Welcome to Collaboration@Work, a series of features dedicated to share collaboration best practices that inspire highly engaged, productive environments.

Lise Michaud is Founder of IC Kollectif, a collaborative effort with IABC/Montreal that brings together the most comprehensive internal communication (IC) resources and content under one roof.

Lise Michaud

Lise Michaud

Read on to learn how IC Kollectif helps communication professionals find and share highly relevant IC information to support organizational communication success.

Peggy L. Bieniek, ABC: How did IC Kollectif get started?
Lise Michaud: 
IC Kollectif’s venture started five months ago. We kicked it off on Twitter  and with IABC/Montreal’s February newsletter, an issue entirely dedicated to internal communication. Our initial partnership with IABC/Montreal provided us with high visibility and credibility from the start, and we are grateful for that.

We reached 1,000 followers on Twitter within 100 days and over 1,500 followers within 125 days. More significantly, we have grown organically and globally, bringing together in-house communication practitioners, IC thought leaders, consultants, professional associations and other participants from across five continents.

We held our first joint event with IABC/Montreal in April 2016, a two-hour workshop with Stephen Welch on how to become a strategic communication advisor. We reached a new milestone with the launch of our website on July 18.

PB: What inspired IC Kollectif to support internal communication professionals?
LM: 
IC Kollectif was born from a desire to simplify and accelerate the process of connecting communication professionals with knowledge, resources and our global community. It is intended for professionals in internal communication and other business communication disciplines.

As communication professionals, we are called on to be creative, innovative and keenly aware of the constant evolution of our practice. I have more than 25 years of experience in senior communication roles across the public and private sectors in Canada including internal, external and change communication, media relations and social media. Like any other communication professional, my job kept me very busy, and I had little time to search online for the latest study findings and best practices related to organizational communication.

There is a huge amount of information on corporate communication online, but these sources are not all equal in terms of quality and reliability. Yet there are many indispensable sources of information that can help us in addressing our day-to-day professional challenges. Knowing where to find them and having easy access is a great help.

Connecting IC Kollectif

PB: How does IC Kollectif’s efforts promote collaboration?
LM: IC Kollectif is a connector. It is the only global initiative dedicated to bring together, under one roof, numerous sources about IC and organizational communication. We are not an additional communication business competing with existing communication organizations, agencies or consultants. Quite the contrary.

Our role is to identify great resources, make them known and facilitate access to them for global communication practitioners. We constantly receive notifications and messages from Twitter and LinkedIn followers with relevant information and sources to share.

We’ve also received many endorsements from global communication professionals. US-based Paul Barton wrote that “we bring the brightest people and the best ideas together in a unique way that is inspiring and enlightening to the profession.” Mike Klein, in his Netherlands-based blog, Changing The Terms, called IC Kollectif “a potent example of an effort that accelerates connection between communication professionals and expands their access to resources and networks.”

IC Kollectif brings together not only resources and information, but it also promotes the people who produce this relevant content, and hence, creates connections among communication practitioners. Our Top IC thought leaders list created by IC Kollectif’s followers is a tangible example of this.

PB: How was the top IC Thought Leaders list created?
LM: 
In April, we asked our Twitter followers to tell us which IC thought leaders they read and listen to. Within a few days, we received more than 50 names of IC experts that we published in a blog post. The list was viewed and shared thousands of times on social media. We also created a public Twitter list to follow the IC thought leaders on Twitter. Since we keep receiving requests for additions to the list, we update it frequently.

PB: What are the key features and benefits of your new website?
LM: 
In this first phase, the website includes four main sections: SourcesIC Thought Leaders listCalendar of global communication conferences and events, and our new Blog.

Under Sources, we list organizations, agencies, publications, professionals associations, research and reports, blogs for communication professionals, a list of relevant Twitter Chats and hashtags to follow, a compilation of Communication LinkedIn groups, books, resources as well as glossaries.

Each element listed under the different sections has a link. With one click, you have a direct and immediate access to the information. We will update current sections on a regular basis and new sections will be added.

IC Kollectif focuses on a wide range of topics including change communication, digital communication, employee communication, social media, and much more. Although tactics remain an important aspect of the communication profession, we put a high focus on the value of managing communication strategically.

PB: How does your site tell the story of your business?
LM: The IC Kollectif website celebrates the people and the organizations around the world who offer relevant content in organizational communication. We do this by taking a valuable role in bringing these sources and resources under one roof and in pointing communication professionals in the direction of useful information and connections to empower them in addressing their day-to-day professional challenges.

PB: What’s next in the collaboration journey for IC Kollectif?
LM: Recently, we forged alliances with Australia’s Cropley Communication and US-based ALI Conferences. We are currently speaking with other organizations for possible partnerships.

We have a special interest in Communication and Public Relations research.  We already have a section called Research and Reports on our website. Eventually, we’d like to expand this section by adding academic communication research to help bridge communication and PR research with global communication professionals.

Over the next weeks, we will introduce guests posts on our new blog by inviting communication professionals and experts to participate. Our aim over the next 6-18 months is to become a must-visit resource for communication professionals eager to stay on the cutting edge of practice and who value a strategic approach to communication management and leadership.

Special thanks to Lise for creating this unique collaboration effort to support global communicators in their quest to lead collaborative company cultures for their organizations!

 


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How Thought Leaders Can Thoughtfully Lead Collaborative Company Cultures

Hot Air BalloonsPhoto: Findaphoto

I’m honored to be on IC Kollectif’s “Top IC Thought Leaders” list. But with great honor comes great responsibility.

As communication thought leaders, we need to lead the charge to build collaborative company cultures that promote respect, trust and care.

Internal Communication (IC) is the foundation of a collaborative company culture. Once you build a flourishing employee culture, then your employees will carry forward that care to your customers and clients.

Here’s some inspiration and direction for your quest to build successful, sustainable, collaborative company cultures:

I’d like to thank and recognize these communication experts (also on the “Top IC Thought Leaders” list) for supporting my quest for collaboration and continuous learning:

How are you helping to build a collaborative company culture? Send your stories to peggy@starrybluebrilliance.com to share in the ongoing Collaboration@Work series. 🙂


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Bonfyre Inspires Collaboration@Work

Fireworks over city skylinePhoto: Bossfight.co

When’s the last time you experienced great collaboration at work?

When I heard about Bonfyre’s Lunch and Learn program, I just had to find out more about this fabulous example of collaboration so I could share it and inspire others to be more collaborative at work.

Chris Dornfeld is President and Co-founder of Bonfyre, a mobile, social engagement platform used by people, brands and companies around the globe. When I met Chris during the ALI’s Strategic Internal Branding Conference, he had exciting news to share about Bonfyre’s new website.

This month, Chris shared with me how Bonfyre’s Lunch and Learn program increases collaboration among his employees so they learn from each other, learn about each other, and continue to be inspired to help their clients create increased collaboration in their organizations.

Bonfyre employees collaborate on white-boarding and visual communication during their monthly Lunch and Learn program

Bonfyre employees collaborate on white-boarding and visual communication during their monthly Lunch and Learn program

Peggy L. Bieniek, ABC: How does your Lunch and Learn series support your business goals?
Chris Dornfeld: The Bonfyre Lunch and Learn program accomplishes three objectives for our team:
(1) Exposing people to new ideas and knowledge.
(2) Getting to know one another. Employees present on a broad range of topics. Most are in some way interactive.
(3) Reinforce our culture of collaboration and learning.

These outcomes help us build a more engaged, innovative and collaborative team of people.

PB: How does your Lunch and Learn series promote collaboration and a positive company culture?
CD:  Occasionally, we bring in an outside expert, but most of our Lunch and Learns are organized and presented by employees. Some of the topics are directly related to our business and some are just things people find interesting and they want to share. People take them pretty seriously and do an excellent job making them interesting and engaging.

Recently, one of our graphic designers did a Lunch and Learn on white-boarding and good visual communication in meetings. After the first 20 minutes, we divided into pairs and created visual stories for one another. Not only did we learn about visual communication, but we learned a great deal about people in other parts of the company.

PB: Tell us more about your Lunch and Learn series program.
CD: We try to conduct a program once a month. The topics vary widely from how stock options work, to travel slide shows of exotic places, from client events, to hacking Bonfyre design ideas. We have also hosted authors, motivational speakers and experts in their fields.

PB: What is some of the feedback you’ve received so far on this series?
CD: Incredibly positive! It’s always nice to get a free lunch with your co-workers, but learning more about things you are interested in is even better. The topics are pretty diverse, and attendance is voluntary. Everyone participating is engaged.

PB: What are some other collaboration activities or initiatives you’ve launched?
CD: We build technology to help employees around the globe love their job, so we are constantly thinking and testing new technologies, ideas and programs to improve the work experience.

Bonfyre employees team-build during a human foosball game.

Bonfyre employees team-build during a human foosball game.

We have company team building events like human foosball and escape rooms. We encourage cross-department brainstorming/hackathons to help solve problems. We have project tables for Lego and “maker” builds. And of course, we have Bonfyre communities for everything from project teams to “foodies,” so we can stay connecting and collaborating, no matter our location.

Bonfyre’s collaboration techniques inspired me to create a new series called Collaboration@Work, where I’ll share more examples of fabulous collaboration at work. Stay tuned!

What are some examples of fabulous collaboration you’ve experienced at your organization?


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How to Speak Up and Stand Out from the Crowd

Paul Barton Stand Up and Speak Out“My view is that all the world is a stage, and life is a series of presentations – networking, job interviews, pitching an idea to a client, even something like trying to get your colleague to try a new place for lunch – they are all persuasive presentations.” – Paul Barton, ABC, business communication expert, instructor, author

For many of us, persuading others through public speaking is a big challenge to overcome. But once you do, you’re on the road to success in your personal and professional life. Improving your public speaking skills also improves your presentation, networking and interpersonal skills.

I’m taking this advice to heart by supporting my friend and fellow collaborator, Paul Barton, ABC, in his efforts to help everyone, “put the fear of public speaking in your rear-view mirror!”

I encourage you to join me in attending Paul’s workshop, “Speak Up and Stand Out: 5 Powerful Ways to Present Yourself with Presence and Poise” on Wednesday, July 13, in Las Vegas, Nevada.

During this highly interactive workshop, you’ll discover how to:

  • Deliver persuasive presentations that turn heads and win hearts
  • Introduce yourself and make a great first impression
  • Use storytelling techniques to make a lasting impact
  • Network effectively and be remembered
  • Collaborate more effectively with co-workers and clients using active listening skills

Be better prepared for your next presentation or networking opportunity. Register today!

In the meantime, read on to learn more about Paul and how his workshop can help you stand out from the crowd as an effective presenter and connector:

Peggy L. Bieniek, ABC: How is this workshop unique from other public speaking workshops?
Paul Barton, ABC: This workshop is about much more than traditional public speaking. My view is that all the world is a stage, and life is a series of presentations – networking, job interviews, pitching an idea to a client, even something like trying to get your colleague to try a new place for lunch – they are all persuasive presentations. So this workshop is geared to everyday business situations, and it provides attendees with skills they can use on the job and in their daily lives to stand out from the crowd.

Most people have never been taught how to:

  • Introduce themselves to stand out from the crowd
  • Tell a succinct story that is memorable
  • Listen to really understand and ensure people feel heard
  • Properly exchange a business card
  • Shake hands to make a lasting impression

This workshop is not a PowerPoint lecture. It’s highly interactive. I present simple, common sense tips, tricks and formulas, and then we put them into practice. Attendees are up out of their chairs and on their feet, working in groups, role-playing and receiving personal coaching much of the time. It’s really a lot of fun!

PLB: What are the biggest challenges people face in public speaking?
PB: The single biggest challenge for most people is overcoming the nervous jitters. The other major challenge many people face is organizing a presentation coherently so they don’t sound like they are just rambling.

PLB: How does your workshop help people overcome these challenges?
PB: In the workshop I provide simple, but strong techniques attendees can use to redirect nervous energy and overcome their fear. I teach them how to “own the room” so they are the host and the audience are the guests, instead of the other way around.

Regarding the organization of a talk, I present several techniques to add “verbal signposts” to a presentation and a great template that can be adapted to give a clear structure to any topic resulting in a powerful persuasive presentation.

PLB: Do people need to change who they are to become better speakers?
PB: We don’t try to change people into being someone they aren’t. That doesn’t work for in the long run. We don’t count “ahs” and “ums.” Instead, we focus on who they really are and then help them become more of it.

People don’t stand awkwardly and show nervous twitches when they are talking with their friends or family. I help them discover how to be comfortable in all situations and develop habits that will allow them to be effective speakers.

PLB: What was the inspiration for the creation of this workshop?
PB: I teach college courses in business communication and public speaking as an adjunct instructor. I developed a curriculum aimed at helping people tackle real world experiences, and I saw how the students responded to the coaching and role-playing exercises. Many have told me months later that they still remember and use the formulas I taught them.

Every student has left my class with more confidence than when they came in, and in some cases the skills the students have learned have changed their lives. Some of the students I’ve taught have had speech impediments, but discovered they can still be effective presenters.

The students amaze and inspire me every day, so I decided to offer some of the techniques I’ve developed for my classes into a six-hour course to help others discover how to be more effective presenters.

PLB: What will people gain from attending this workshop?
PB: Attendees will acquire greater self-confidence, expand their comfort zones and discover how to deliver with presence and poise. They will come away with easy-to-remember tips, tricks and formulas to tackle real world situations. They will become better listeners and more persuasive presenters. Everyone communicates, but not everyone connects. With a little training, everyone can learn how to speak up and stand out from the crowd.

About the presenter:

Paul Barton, ABC

Paul Barton, ABC

Paul Barton, ABC is Principal Consultant, Paul Barton Communications LLC. He’s been passionate about connecting the minds of organizational leaders with the hearts of employees for more than 20 years.

After a successful career at six fast-growing brands including PetSmart and Hawaiian Airlines, Paul authored a book entitled Maximizing Internal Communication: Strategies to Turn Heads, Win Hearts, Engage Employees and Get Resultsand he launched his own consulting firm.

He’s a frequent speaker and workshop presenter on the topics of crisis communication, internal communication, and HR communication strategies. Paul also teaches courses in public speaking and business communication as an adjunct faculty member.

Paul is a long-time member of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) and has earned the association’s Accredited Business Communicator (ABC) designation.


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Gather Around the Bonfyre to Ignite Employee Engagement

FireworksPhoto by Elena Hruleva, barnimages.com

When you make a great discovery, you’re excited about sharing it with others.

While supporting and attending the ALI Strategic Internal Branding Conference last month, I discovered the Bonfyre app.

This “new approach to driving engagement and aligning cultures” was a fun, interactive, real-time way for us to capture and share the latest news, photos and videos from our internal branding learning adventure.

But Bonfyre does much more than that. Bonfyre brings it all together for global organizations:

  • Company Meetings & Events
  • Internal Communications
  • Team Building
  • Company Culture
  • Employee Recognition
  • HR Business Intelligence

I had the pleasure of meeting Chris Dornfeld, President and Co-Founder, Bonfyre and Jake Bernstein, Manager, Business Development, Bonfyre, during the ALI conference. They told me that the Bonfyre website was recently redesigned, so here’s the scoop on that from Mark Sharp, Director of Marketing & Communications:

Bonfyre_HomeComputer

Peggy L. Bieniek, ABC: What inspired the website redesign?
Mark Sharp:
As our business has rapidly evolved over the past three years from strictly an event app company to an event-to-enterprise social communications platform, we understood that our website needed to reflect this key strategic transformation in our business….and frankly, one that continues to emerge in the marketplace today and in the foreseeable future.

PB: How is the new site different from the previous site?
MS:
The previous web site design catered almost exclusively to prospective customers looking for an event app to use at their upcoming event(s). Yes, events remain a key and foundational component of our business…and always will.

However, the most apparent differentiation between the previous site and new site is the graphic user interface design and refined logo treatment. More importantly, the new site features six key strategic areas of business focus (i.e., Company Meetings & Events, Internal Communications, Team Building, Company Culture, Employee Recognition and HR Business Intelligence) for which Bonfyre can deliver impressive results in the creation and enrichment of employee engagement.

Bonfyre App_How It Works Hub

How Bonfyre Works

PB: What are the key features and benefits of the new site?
MS:
Through subtle use of animation, the “How it Works” section details Bonfyre features and functionalities specific to business use. So, whether you are interested in partnering with Bonfyre as the official event app for your Company Meetings & Events, delivering Internal Communications across a multitude of remote office locations or launching a campaign to change company culture, prospective customers are able to clearly see how Bonfyre can be leveraged to quickly deliver solutions for a host of business hurdles.

PB: What user feedback have you received about the new site?
MS:
The response from current clients, strategic partners and board members has been very complimentary! People grasp very quickly the new strategic vision Bonfyre is pursuing and how our products and services help to fulfill on the promises made.

Although web analytics and performance data for our website are confidential, it is safe to say that we are seeing improved results for visits, unique visits, page views, time spent on site, bounce rates, etc.

PB: How does your site tell the story of your business and the Bonfyre app?
MS:
Partnering with Bonfyre for Company Meetings & Events creates “the spark” that companies need to cultivate palpable, ongoing employee engagement and an enviable culture of personal empowerment…where leadership and employees share and exchange ideas, solutions, best practices, encouragement and team victories!

This is achieved by harnessing the power of Bonfyre for Internal Communication, Team Building, Company Culture and Employee Recognition initiatives. And the best part? Bonfyre is able to deliver real-time HR business intelligence and insights into what is working and what is not when it comes to driving the needle on employee engagement.

PB: How does Bonfyre support employee engagement?
MS:
Bonfyre not only supports employee engagement, but creates employee engagement! As a senior business executive searching for something that will motivate employees across the company to take ownership, build camaraderie, transform culture, build bridges and forge innovation, Bonfyre delivers the desired results!

Beautifully simple in design and intuition, Bonfyre is being downloaded and embraced by 70+% of event guests in 2016. And as past trends indicate, these guests continue to seize the energy and solidarity that Bonfyre creates long after the event has concluded and carry the burning flame of engagement back to their companies…transforming communication, team building, culture and recognition.

Bonfyre Data Analytics

Bonfyre Data Analytics

Thanks to Chris Dornfeld, Jake Bernstein, and Mark Sharp for their time and support in sharing Bonfyre with us. 🙂

If you haven’t tried Bonfyre yet, I encourage you to check it out at www.bonfyreapp.com


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Brilliance@Work: Video Communications and Webcasting Expert Michele Wolpe

 

Swirling Stars

Photo: James Lee, Chester, NH, USA

Welcome to Brilliance@Work, a series of profiles about stellar collaboration professionals and their best practices at work.

Michele Wolpe

Michele Wolpe

Michele Wolpe is Director of Employee Communications at Autodesk, a global software design company headquartered in San Francisco, California. She has over 20 years of experience in leading employee communications at Fortune 500 companies including The Walt Disney Company, Barclays Global Investors, Charles Schwab, DHL Worldwide Express and Silicon Graphics.

Michele is fluent in French and Spanish and is a certified Executive Coach. She loves employee communications because it helps employees understand and engage with the company they work for and supports leaders in inspiring employees.

Join Michele at the Advanced Learning Institute’s Strategic Internal Branding Conference, April 19-21 in Scottsdale, Arizona as she presents “Engage and Inform a Global Workforce by Strategically Aligning Your Brand through Video Communications.”

In the meantime, read on to learn more about Michele and her insights on engaging employees through video and webcasting.

Peggy L. Bieniek, ABC: What are you most interested in and speak most enthusiastically about?
Michele Wolpe: I am most interested in talking about ways to creatively deliver business news and information to employees as well as the importance and value of leaders communicating face to face with employees.

PB: What are some of your past and current projects that you are most proud of?
MW: I’m proud of leading the webcasting project at Autodesk and taking it from zero to a fully integrated company-wide solution that is used regularly at the company by all of the business organizations.

I’m also proud of the Vision Project I ran at Autodesk, which resulted in a vision statement for the company, as well as the Vision Map project I ran that involved creating a visual map of the company’s business model transition and plans to accomplish its strategy.

PB: How does video communication support internal brand strategy?
MW: Video (and webcasting) can bring a brand strategy to life just by the nature of the medium. The storytelling power of video, via images and people, is much stronger than other media.

PB: What will people gain from attending the Strategic Internal Branding Conference?
MW: It’s always great to hear from colleagues in the field about what they are doing that is new and exciting and making a difference. For me, conferences like these are ideal ways to get new ideas and to meet people who become part of your professional network.

PB: What is most important for people to understand from your conference presentation?
MW: That implementing a webcasting solution for a company can be a very effective, powerful and cost-effective way to strengthen employee communication, leadership visibility, and to build engagement, especially in global companies and those with widely distributed offices and/or operations.

PB: What is your contact information for questions, comments, ideas?
MW: Michele.wolpe@autodesk.com


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Brilliance@Work: Video Storytelling Expert Rocky Walls

Swirling Stars

Photo: James Lee, Chester, NH, USA

Welcome to Brilliance@Work, a series of profiles about stellar collaboration professionals and their best practices at work.

Rocky Walls

Rocky Walls

Rocky Walls is the man behind the wheel on the 12 Stars Media bus. When he’s not working alongside fellow 12 Stars team members, he’s consulting one-on-one with companies about using video in their marketing and communication plans or engaging rooms full of communicators by speaking in places like Microsoft HQ or Walt Disney World.

Join Rocky at the Advanced Learning Institute’s Strategic Internal Branding Conference, April 19-21 in Scottsdale, Arizona as he presents “Using Storytelling and Video to Strengthen Your Internal Brand Campaigns to Inform and Inspire Employees to Live Your Brand.”

In the meantime, read on to learn more about Rocky and his insights on effective video storytelling.

Peggy L. Bieniek, ABC: What are you most interested in and speak most enthusiastically about?
Rocky Walls: I love presenting to marketers and communicators about the simplicity of discovering and sharing the passion and drive that already exists within their organization. One of my favorite words is “entelechy,” which means “the realization of potential.” We spend a lot of energy trying to create engaging stories and inspiring messages, when most of the best ones are right under our noses all the time.

PB: What are some of your past and current projects that you are most proud of?
RW: We just recently (within the last two weeks) finished a multi-part series of videos for an enterprise organization to use in promoting their new global employee recognition program. It was so exciting to capture the excitement of employees around the world. The pride they had in their organization and their colleagues could be seen in every smile.

PB: How does video strengthen your internal branding efforts?
RW: At our organization, 12 Stars media, we have a culture of “always on” and it’s never unexpected when someone pulls out their smartphone to ask you some questions or ask you to share a little about what you are excited to work on today. I think that’s what makes our brand so approachable. We live it every day and prove it with video.

PB: What will people gain from attending the Strategic Internal Branding Conference?
RW: This conference will not only be an opportunity to learn from industry-leading practitioners but, perhaps more importantly, it will be an opportunity to build connections that last well beyond the conference itself. I am still talking regularly with connections I made at Advanced Learning Institute conferences last year.

PB: What is most important for people to understand from your conference workshop?
RW: My conference workshop will probably be one of the most hands-on video training experiences many attendees have had. We will talk about practical, put-it-into-practice-today tips for recording better smartphone video. But we won’t just talk about it; we will actually record video during the workshop and attendees will be provided with real-time feedback. It will be a lot of fun!

PB: What is your contact information for questions, comments, ideas?
RW: I can be reached most quickly and easily on Twitter. Send me a tweet at @RockyWalls anytime.

Register for the Strategic Internal Branding Conference. Together we’ll learn about using authentic internal branding communications to create brand champions, build culture and engage employees to live and deliver on the brand promise.

Since I’m a conference supporter, just mention Starry Blue Brilliance when you register to receive a $200 discount. 🙂

Please share this information with your networks. The Twitter hashtag is #ALI_IntBranding.


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Brilliance@Work: Brand Storytelling Expert Denise Roberts McKee

Photo: James Lee, Chester, NH, USA

Photo: James Lee, Chester, NH, USA

Welcome to Brilliance@Work, a series of profiles about stellar collaboration professionals and their best practices at work.

Denise Roberts McKee

Denise Roberts McKee

Denise Roberts McKee is the Chief Operating Officer at AboutFace Media, which creates brand storytelling initiatives told through the lens of independent film’s most acclaimed documentary filmmakers.

Denise brings her years of experience working with leading brands to conferences and seminars worldwide, with a focus on content development and marketing. In 2014, The Online Marketing Institute named her one of the Top 40 Digital Strategists in Marketing.

Prior to joining AboutFace, Denise co-founded the companies LimeLife, Inc., a publisher of mobile media for women, and Stunt Puppy Entertainment, an independent developer of CD-ROM games focused on the children’s market.

Join Denise at the Advanced Learning Institute’s Strategic Internal Branding Conference, April 19-21 in Scottsdale, Arizona as she presents “Authentic Storytelling in a Digital Age – How to Get Your Message Seen, Believed and Remembered.”

In the meantime, read on to learn more about Denise and her insights on effective storytelling.

Peggy L. Bieniek, ABC: What are you most interested in and speak most enthusiastically about?
Denise Roberts McKee: I love speaking about video content, storytelling in particular. It can be such a powerful and effective means of communicating and connecting when done well. I also know how daunting a task it can appear to be, so I really enjoy sharing practical advice and approaches that, hopefully, make tackling the process a bit easier.

PB: What are some of your past and current projects that you are most proud of?
DRM:
I am especially proud of the work we’ve done featuring military veterans. A few years ago we created a series for Sears about their “Heroes at Home” program that provides home repairs and upgrades for veterans facing hardship. My favorite episode featured “Hoppy” Hopkins, a WWII vet. Every Friday, Hoppy headed to downtown Lynchburg, Virginia to lead a group of veterans who pay tribute to the troops who were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. We were so lucky to capture his amazing story before he passed away in 2009. Watch it at: http://aboutfacemedia.com/work/sears-hoppy-hopkins

As for current projects, we have a short film screening at film festivals that I’m in love with. “Operation Allie” is a personal short documentary by Manny Marquez, one of our directors. The film features Manny’s brother Anthony, a vet of the war in Afghanistan, on a quest to find one of his best friends from his days in combat – his bomb-sniffing dog partner, Allie. It’s amazing, and guaranteed to bring a tear to your eye. For more info, go to http://www.bigskyfilmfest.org/festival/films-2016-peak/operation_allie

PB: How does digital storytelling support internal brand strategy?
DRM:
A key component in any internal brand strategy is employee buy-in. If employees don’t readily participate and feel part of the process, or the organization as a whole, all the content and budget in the world won’t get you past Step 1. Thoughtful, well-crafted storytelling content has the ability to make a personal connection, start an ongoing two-way conversation and help employees feel that you are communicating with them, not talking at them.

PB: What will people gain from attending the Strategic Internal Branding Conference?
DRM:
I’ve had the pleasure of leading many ALI workshops over the years. What’s unique about ALI is an amazing sense of community. You meet others with similar experiences, facing similar challenges and together you share, discuss, learn and problem-solve. You’ll leave with tons of take-aways, and make great, lasting connections. It will be three days well spent. I promise.

PB: What is most important for people to understand from your conference workshop?
DRM:
While I do try to provide as much practical advice as possible, it’s not a step-by-step checklist. There is no right way or wrong way of creating video content. It needs to meet your objectives and speak to your audience.

There are many types of video, story-based is just one. It’s up to you to “do the homework” before you begin shooting to make sure you’re starting with the best approach. I don’t want you to waste time, resources and most importantly, budget on content that is not positioned for success.

That being said, if you take the time to thoughtfully develop your strategy, at a certain point you can’t be afraid to pull the trigger. To quote Nike, you gotta “Just Do It” and use the results to learn, adjust and continue forward.

PB: What is your contact information for questions, comments, ideas?
DRM:
denise@aboutfacemedia.com

Register for the Strategic Internal Branding Conference. Together we’ll learn about using authentic internal branding communications to create brand champions, build culture and engage employees to live and deliver on the brand promise.

Since I’m a conference supporter, just mention Starry Blue Brilliance when you register to receive a $200 discount. 🙂

Please share this information with your networks. The Twitter hashtag is #ALI_IntBranding.


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How to Enhance the Employee Experience through Technology

SplitShire-0160Photo: splitshire.com

“Science and technology revolutionize our lives, but memory, tradition and myth frame our response.” – Arthur Schlesinger, Historian

In “The 11 Vital Internal Communications Trends You’d Be Crazy to Ignore,” Shel Holtz states that “with employees able to see instantly what their work team peers, project peers, bosses and other employees are doing, they feel more connected and, as a result, get more engaged.”

New technology is a driving force for creating and improving the employee experience. In my profile of internal communications expert Chuck Gose, he explained that, “each technology has its own strengths and weaknesses. Make sure your stories play to the technology’s strength.”

Learn how technology can boost your internal brand and culture as Chuck Gose presents “Enhance Your Employee Experience through New Technologies that Align with Your Organization and Communication Campaign Goals” at the Strategic Internal Branding Conference, April 19-21 in Scottsdale, Arizona.

During this session, you’ll learn about many new technologies so you can:

  • Use the employee experience as a driving force for the customer experience
  • Secure organizational buy-in into technology investments
  • Introduce new technologies into the workplace to improve communications and enhance the employee experience

Register for the Strategic Internal Branding Conference. Together we’ll learn about using authentic internal branding communications to create brand champions, build culture and engage employees to live and deliver on the brand promise.

Since I’m a conference supporter, just mention Starry Blue Brilliance when you register to receive a $200 discount. 🙂

Please share this information with your networks. The Twitter hashtag is #ALI_IntBranding.