Welcome to Brilliance@Work, a series of profiles about stellar communication professionals and their best practices at work.
Employee communication expert Jeremy Schultz leads a team of internal communicators at Intel in Hillsboro, Oregon.
At the March 20 IABC Phoenix professional development luncheon, Jeremy will present “Trends in Global Employee Communication and How They’re Taking Shape at Intel.”
During this event, you’ll learn:
– What global economic, social and workplace trends are affecting employee communication
– How communicators at Intel are keeping employees informed and inspired
– Ideas and tips from mini case studies – cutting-edge and tried-and-true communication practices put to the test at Intel
Register for the luncheon at http://www.iabcphoenix.com/trends-in-global-employee-communication-and-how-theyre-taking-shape-at-intel/
For more information, visit www.iabcphoenix.com.
In the meantime, read on to learn more about Jeremy and his insights on global employee best practices:
Peggy Bieniek: What is most important for people to know about you?
Jeremy Schultz: Probably that I just love to learn. It’s the big thing that drives me every day. One of my favorite things about internal communications is the constant opportunity to meet the people moving the company, learning about them and their work, and helping them to be successful. That, and drawing ideas from a wide range of sources, gets me up in the morning.
PB: What makes you stand out in a crowd of professional communicators?
JS: I think it’s my combination of technical aptitude and communication skills. I was a math and science whiz in school, got my degree in engineering, and worked as a software developer for several years before finding my way into communications. This gives me the ability to understand my (very technical) company’s products and the business strategies behind them, and then explain them in plain language for a broad audience. My abilities as a writer allow me to do that. I get to tackle projects from hour-turnaround news event reporting to informal blogging to longer-form, in-depth analyses. Writing is a blast, and a skill I’ve found isn’t too common, even within communications.
I like to try new things and push the envelope, so I’ve been at the forefront of using social intranet tools to foster conversation and more employee-to-employee connection. Intel as a company adopted these tools very early, but the communications team didn’t. I’ve been able to change that dramatically over the years, and now our team is helping the company to continue to work more collaboratively and communicate more openly.
PB: What are you most interested in and speak most enthusiastically about?
JS: I like to talk about trying new things, what worked or didn’t work, and bouncing new ideas around. I tend to be more of a synthesizer and improver of ideas versus a creator of brand new ones, so I’m energized by talking through ideas and evolving them with a group. I love to take on and take apart what look to be big problems, getting to the root cause, and figuring out how to solve them.
Content planning and development makes up a big part of my role, so that’s probably my favorite topic when it comes to communications. I’m always interested to hear how other companies plan and produce content, how much they curate versus create, and how they tie it all back to outcomes and business goals.
PB: How did you decide to shift your career from software development to communications?
JS: Pure serendipity. Software got boring—I was working in IT on important but unsexy internal systems. I started working with a career coach to start from scratch, and after loads of research and interviewing and job shadowing, I decided to go back to school and become a naturopathic doctor.
Shortly after I started taking prerequisites, I got swept up in broad layoff. I received an opportunity to find another job at Intel and had about three months to do it. I wasn’t ready to start medical school just yet, and a job in communications opened up. With my career coaching so fresh, I was able to articulate very well how my current skills set me up for success in communications, despite the contrast. I got the job. It was only three weeks between the old IT job and the new job in communications. I decided shortly afterwards to put the naturopathy career on hold. Six and a half years later, I’m still enjoying and growing in communications.
PB: What communication projects are you most proud of?
JS: There are a handful of stories I’ve written over the past few years that I’m proud of. Despite the barrels of ink that the tech media prints on the industry we’re in, there’s still plenty of ripe territory important for employees to understand. My flagship pieces have in-depth analyses of rising competitors, explaining each company’s history, business model, and keys to success.
Over a longer term, I’m proud of how I’ve helped move our department’s use of intranet social media from fledgling to a big piece of everything we do. It took several years, but today employee communications plays a huge role in influencing our intranet and ensuring employees get maximum value out of it.
PB: How do you incorporate strategic storytelling into your communication programs?
JS: Storytelling underpins a lot of the work we do. Our most effective and consistent all-company channel is our global intranet news. We not only dig up and tell individual stories, but we also build out longer-term editorial plans based on overarching narratives tied back to the company’s top priorities.
On the other end of the spectrum, we offer storytelling training to managers and leaders to help them be more effective communicators. That kind of hands-on help extends to helping employees write more colorful, candid blogs, too.
Overall, it spans from asking good questions during interviews—explicitly asking for stories and seemingly minute details that make stories come to life—all the way to using stories to help us reach company goals.
PB: What are some of your favorite resources that inspire your work?
JS: Besides keeping up with a lot of the groups and sites that specifically focus on internal/employee communications—IABC (of course!), the Corporate Executive Board, and a handful of other communities and blogs—I like to read about the latest in journalism and social media.
On the journalism side, I follow groups like Poynter and PBS’s MediaLab, and then I’ve got lists on Twitter and Google+ that include a broad group of creative folks who share interesting things related to communications. I’ve read some great books on interviewing and writing—Jack Hart’s A Writer’s Coach is a particular favorite.
On the social media side, I follow some of the leaders in using these tools to achieve specific outcomes. Not everything that works online applies inside the company, but some of the same principles apply and it’s fun to see how people are pushing the envelope.
Otherwise, I’m a huge fan of Wired and Fast Company. I read a lot, but these are the two magazines I usually read cover to cover.
PB: What is your contact information for questions, comments and ideas?
JS: LinkedIn is probably best: http://www.linkedin.com/in/jeremyschultz/. I’m fairly active on Twitter (@jschultz) and Google+ (https://plus.google.com/+JeremySchultz/), too. I’m happy to share this information, and I look forward to hearing from your readers.
PB: To learn how to incorporate storytelling in your organization’s intranet, read my post, “Every Great Intranet Reveals a Great Story.”
What best practices in communication would you like to share in future Brilliance@Work profiles? What are your ideas for topics or people to be featured in upcoming profiles?