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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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Take a Fresh Look at Your Internal Branding

White Blossoms“Just imagine becoming the way you used to be as a very young child, before you understood the meaning of any word, before opinions took over your mind. The real you is loving, joyful, and free. The real you is just like a flower, just like the wind, just like the ocean, just like the sun.” – Don Miguel Ruiz, author and teacher

The “real you” should be authentic. So should your brand. It’s time to take a fresh look at your internal brand. Reinvent to become an authentic and inspired brand leader.

Join me April 19-21 at the beautiful FireSky Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, Arizona for the Advanced Learning Institute’s “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.

Here’s a peek at a few of the presentations and speakers:

  • “Learning to Rebrand Your Company from the Inside Out” by Shannon Smith, Director, Employer Branding, Intel
  • “Using Videos and Education to Increase Employee Brand Engagement and Build a Strong, Consistent Brand” by Joe Pantigoso, Senior Director, Global Brand, SAP
  • “Enhance Your Employee Experience through New Technologies that Align with your Organization and Communication Campaign Goals” by Chuck Gose, Founder and Host, ICology

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.

In the meantime, watch for my conference posts on LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and Starry Blue Brilliance.

Looking forward to attending this event with you!


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What Customer Innovation Looks Like

Universeglass_largerPhoto by Mpires. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

What is this a picture of? Stars? A bunch of cool lights?

It’s actually a picture of the inside of a blue glass.

It’s also an example of seeing an everyday object from a new perspective.

Attending the Total CX Leaders Conference gave me an amazing opportunity to see and learn about customer experience from new perspectives. Last month, I shared highlights from four sessions about Omni-channel, best practice frameworks, customer journey mapping and driving innovation.

Here are highlights of four more Total CX Leaders Conference sessions:

Use and share these ideas to help grow your organization and change the way you innovate for your customers.


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Brilliance@Work and the Stars Who Make it Happen: Consultant and Author Paul Barton, ABC

Photo: James Lee, Chester, NH, USA

Photo: James Lee, Chester, NH, USA

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

Paul Barton, ABC

Paul Barton, ABC

Veteran communicator Paul Barton, ABC of Paul Barton Communications, LLC, specializes in internal communication and has helped organizations communicate effectively with employees for over 20 years. Paul has led employee communications at Arizona Public Service, Phelps Dodge, America West Airlines, PetSmart and Hawaiian Airlines.

Since we last caught up with Paul in March, he has published his book, Maximizing Internal Communication: Strategies to Turn Heads, Win Hearts, Engage Employees and Get Ret Results, available now on Amazon.com and PaulBartonABC.com, and available soon on Amazon Kindle and iBook.

You can also meet Paul and learn more about his internal communication strategies at his book signing party on Tuesday, Aug. 19, 6-8 p.m. at the Phoenix Central Library, 1221 N. Central Ave., 4th Floor Lecture Hall in Phoenix, Ariz. Paul will share his insights on employee communication and sign copies of his new book. The ticket price includes a copy of his book. Refreshments will be served and lots of prize drawings will be held.

In the meantime, read on as Paul shares his insights about writing his new book and how it can help your organization implement best practices to boost employee engagement.

Peggy Bieniek, ABC: How did you come up with the title for your book?

Paul Barton, ABC: It was a collaborative effort with my publisher. We wanted the main title (Maximizing Internal Communication) to speak to the head, and the subtitle (Strategies to Turn Heads, Win Hearts, Engage Employees and Get Results) to speak more to the heart of my audience. Winning heads and hearts is a theme carried throughout the book. The tagline is about the practical things (Tools, Templates and Proven Practices) the audience can start using right away. The title and subtitle are depicted on the cover in talk balloons, and they are interlocking to symbolize that we need to be sending meaningful messages and simultaneously obtaining meaningful feedback. As pointed out in the book, two monologues don’t make a dialogue.

Peggy: What is the main message you want your readers to understand?
Paul: Employees are an organization’s most important audience, and great internal communication is the key to employee engagement and sustained business success. I also want employee communication professionals to understand that what we do is important not only for the business, but for employees. We help to enrich the lives of employees and their families. What we do is a noble profession, and we should be proud of what we do.

Peggy: What kind of research did you do for this book?
Paul: This book is primarily about the strategies and techniques I learned from my mentors and colleagues over my 20-year career in internal communication at five fast-growing corporations. I was extremely fortunate to work alongside some of the best and brightest in the business, and to have led some incredibly interesting large-scale projects: first-ever intranet and social media platform launches, building an internal team from inception to implementation, a 401(k) conversion, a large safety initiative, major operational performance and customer service initiatives, crisis preparation, implementation of a full flexible benefits plan, mergers, acquisitions, and re-organizations. I supplemented my on-the-job experience by reading a lot of research papers and several books, and I conducted several telephone interviews with subject matter experts.

Peggy: What did you learn from writing this book?
Paul: This book allowed me to organize my thoughts in great detail and clearly articulate the communication philosophies I have forged over the years. One of the things that stood out was how much my approach seeks to win over hearts as well as minds. I have always known it that was a part of it, but I didn’t realize to what extent until I conducted research from change experts like Alan Weiss and John Kotter and completed my book.

Peggy: What are your goals and intentions for this book?
Paul: My goal is to inspire internal communicators to take their organizations to higher levels and to help them get there with this book serving as a roadmap to success. This book provides tools that communication professionals can start using immediately to get things headed in the right direction, and there are solid methodologies that will help them to sustain their efforts and build a solid internal communication function.

Peggy: What makes your book stand out from the crowd?
Paul: The approaches in this book were forged on the job over a 20-year period in multiple industries to handle a wide range of communication challenges. I think the blend of deep-thinking philosophies and proven practices from someone who’s been in the trenches make this book unique.

Peggy: What is the biggest thing that people THINK they know about employee communication, that isn’t so?
Paul: The single biggest problem in employee communication is the assumption that because communications are going out, that messages are getting through. Employees are drowning in a sea of information, but they are thirsting for clarity and purpose.

Peggy: What is the most important thing that people DON’T know about employee communication that they need to know?
Paul: Research consistently shows that the better an organization is at communicating with its employees, the more profitable an organization becomes. There’s a direct correlation. Organizations that understand this have a competitive advantage over those who fail to give their internal communicators the resources and autonomy they need to get the job done.

Peggy: What is your contact information for questions, comments and ideas?
Paul: You can connect with me in a variety of ways. My website is http://www.paulbartonabc.com, my business Facebook page is http://www.facebook.com/PaulBartonCommunicationsLLC, my Twitter handle is @PaulBartonABC, my LinkedIn profile is http://www.linkedin.com/in/paulbartonabc and my Google Plus profile is https://plus.google.com/+PaulBartonABC/posts. I look forward to talking internal comms with you!

What are your ideas for topics or people to be featured in upcoming profiles?

 

 


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Use Storytelling to Transform Your Intranet and Your Organization

Pop_transformation_(1444124191)_1024Photo: Feliciano Guimarães from Guimarães, Portugal

Great stories can help you:

  • Create meaningful connections with your employees
  • Transform your intranet into a key collaboration and idea platform
  • Improve your organization’s productivity and profitability

Need some inspiration on why and how to tell great stories? Read “Three Tips to Telling a Persuasive Story” by ePals CEO Katya Andresen.

To learn more about how to increase collaboration and employee engagement to drive business results, register for the 2014 Intranet & Digital Workplace Summit.

While you’re there, be sure to check out “How to Use Your Digital Workplace to Drive Collaboration, Build Trust and Transform the Way You Communicate” presented by James Warda, Chris Catania and Steve Cohen of the Corporate Communications team at Walgreen Co.

The Walgreen’s story will help you understand how to:

  • Build (and sustain) the business case for an enterprise social network
  • Give employees a place where they can become better informed, connected and engaged
  • Build partnerships across the company, which is vital to the success of any intranet initiative
  • Focus on key metrics to measure the success of your intranet

How does your organization’s intranet incorporate storytelling?


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Join Me for the 2014 Intranet and Digital Workplace Summit

IntranetDigital_Logo_Final_642x360-copy1

Join me July 29-31 in Chicago, Illinois for the 2014 Intranet & Digital Workplace Summit sponsored by the Advanced Learning Institute. As a guest blogger, I will share highlights before, during and after the Summit.

I’m excited about the prospect of attending this event with you and your colleagues. Together we can learn more about reinventing our intranets and creating digital workplaces that drive productivity, innovation and measurable business results, including:

  • Fueling strategic thinking on a global intranet: leveraging our digital environments to drive efficiencies and a one-company culture
  • Bringing digital employee engagement and collaboration to mobile and field-based employees
  • Developing a digital governance network
  • Understanding and demonstrating the business impact of the digital workplace on our organizations
  • Aligning our digital workplaces with our business strategies
  • Understanding the new role of SharePoint and Office 365 in our digital workplaces
  • Driving culture change through enterprise social network adoption and engagement
  • Integrating social, mobile and video tools to evolve our traditional intranets

Please share this information with those who might be interested in attending this event. I will post event highlights daily during this timeframe on Starry Blue Brilliance. Be sure to check it out!

In the meantime, watch for my pre-event posts on LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and Starry Blue Brilliance, and please share with your networks. Let’s keep the conversations going!

Thank you very much for your continued support. I’m very excited about this opportunity!


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Customer-Centric Culture: Why it Matters and How to Measure it

Flickr_-_paul_bica_-_interiorPhoto by paul bica

“A great customer experience can only be delivered by someone who wants to give it.” – Ian Luxford, Learning Services Director, Grass Roots

During last week’s Total Customer Experience Leaders Summit, Bill Barnes, Senior Vice President, Client Services and Jaci Jarrett Masztal, Ph.D, Vice President, Practice Leader from Burke Inc., presented “Customer-Centric Culture: Why it Matters and How to Measure it.” Bill and Jaci contend that the employee engagement process and the customer experience process, which are usually separate management processes in many organizations, be brought together to improve organizational performance.

The premise of this approach is that a high level of employee engagement is critical to creating and enhancing positive customer experiences leading to customer engagement. To improve employee engagement, organizations should focus on ways to:

  • Improve job performance
  • Provide more job growth opportunities
  • Enhance Talent Management
  • Better serve various internal stakeholder needs
  • Improve commitment and retention
  • Enhance customer service

A customer-centric culture that actively focuses on what is best for the customer is a critical factor in improving organizational performance. Customer centricity is a part of all organizational aspects including leadership, strategy, decision-making, operations and in ongoing job functions. It’s also important to remember that culture is:

  • Broader – it’s more than an initiative
  • Cross-functional, enterprise-wide
  • Long-term strategy
  • Motivation, focus, behavior
  • Multi-dimensional

A challenge for most organizations is determining how measure a customer-centric culture. Measurement allows a true gap analysis and a baseline to track change and assess impact. At Burke, Bill and Jaci help their clients to measure their culture with The Customer Centricity Index, which measures across these six important dimensions:

  • Leadership & Strategy
  • Messaging & Modeling
  • Employee Understanding & Commitment
  • Product & Service
  • Excellence Support & Tools
  • Recognition & Appreciation

Leadership drives the strategy and culture which sets the foundation for Who, What, and How, all of which drive and support customer engagement and business success. Employees believe the products and services are worthy and are equipped to deliver. Employees are recognized and rewarded for the customer-centric behaviors reinforced and repeated. Full customer centricity is achieved when the organization has a collective mindset of doing what needs to be done to the benefit of the customer.

Does your organization have a customer-centric culture? How do you measure it?


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Brilliance@Work and the Stars Who Make it Happen: Paul Barton, ABC

Photo: James Lee, Chester, NH, USA

Photo: James Lee, Chester, NH, USA

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

Paul Barton, ABC

Paul Barton, ABC

Veteran communicator Paul Barton, ABC, of Paul Barton Communications, LLC, specializes in internal communication and has helped organizations communicate effectively with employees for over 20 years. Read on as Paul shares his insights on strategic internal communication planning and best practices for boosting employee engagement.

Peggy L. Bieniek: What is most important for people to know about you?
Paul Barton: I’m an eternal learner and very passionate about internal communication.

PLB: What makes you stand out in a crowd of professional communicators?
PB: My ability to take high-level philosophies, find all their nuances and then see ways to apply them to the world communication challenges makes me stand out, along with my depth and breadth in communication. I grew up in the back shop of my father’s weekly newspaper, so I learned writing, photography, layout and design at an early age. I’ve helped usher in a lot of technological changes. I helped four different companies launch their very first intranets, and I helped two companies begin their first-ever forays into social media. A lot has changed, but the basics of communication remain the same, and writing is still the fundamental skill. Clear writing is still a reflection of clear thinking.

PLB: What are you most interested in and speak most enthusiastically about?
PB: The things we do as communicators that not only help organizations be more successful, but also enrich the lives of employees and their families. What we do is a noble profession, and I am very proud of that.

PLB: How do you help organizations inspire and inform employees?
PB: The first step is usually to put out the immediate fire. Often that’s a credibility gap between the organization’s leadership and its employees. You have to ensure your leadership has credibility before you can attempt to reach employees. Without credibility, a message is worthless. You begin to inspire employees when they see what they personally do is vital to the overall success of the organization, and then you help them to not only understand but to become part of the organization’s vision. Employees want to know that what they are doing has meaning. They are seeking clarity and purpose. If we are communicating just to inform, then we aren’t really communicating at all. We need to approach communication as an ongoing process. That process seeks to influence, is inclusive and listens to employees.

PLB: What inspired you to create your blog “Employee Communication Nirvana” and what types of information and ideas do you share with your readers?
PB: I wanted to share a vision for what the nirvana state of employee communication would look like. What would an organization look like if its internal communication function was as good as it could possibly be? What is our ultimate goal? I share philosophies and best practices that I hope inspire internal communication professionals to strive higher. I really like the feedback I get from my industry peers and the ongoing dialog.

PLB: What communication projects are you most proud of?
PB: The ones that really moved the needle for companies and at the same time made a real difference in the lives of employees – the wellness, 401(k) and safety campaigns, and the culture change and performance initiatives. I’m also proud that I was able to take struggling internal communication functions and turn them into high-performing teams. I believe I inspired a lot of young professionals who were new to internal communication. I still get calls from people who worked for me asking for advice and that’s a great feeling.

PLB: What are some communication best practices you’ve developed and/or helped to implement?
PB: I’ve developed a lot of tools, templates and processes over the years that have helped me get out in front of my work, think strategically and act as an executive counselor. You have to plan the work or it will plan you. It’s easy to get overwhelmed. Having the right “tools and rules” in place sets you free to do higher levels of thinking. For instance, my colleagues and I developed a strategic communication planning template that we improved upon continuously over a 15-year period in four different industries. It gives us the structure to make sure we are on time, on budget and on brand, and the process itself has been the springboard for some real breakthrough thinking.

PLB: How do you incorporate strategic storytelling into your communication programs?
PB: Storytelling is a powerful way to communicate because it gets to our emotions. Logic makes us think, but it is our emotions that get us up out of our chairs and willing to take action. I’ve seen a CEO tell a story to a group of managers that had them pumping their fists into the air and yelling in support, and I’ve seen a safety video that had a widow telling a story about the husband who was no longer with her and her children that made the audience openly weep. A lot of front line managers think they can’t communicate company messages because they aren’t great presenters, but get them telling a few stories, and they turn into very effective communicators. The most successful employee communications appeal to heads and hearts, and storytelling is one of the most powerful ways to do that.

PLB: What are your current projects as you continue to develop your professional skills and knowledge?
PB: I’m just about to go to press with a book called Maximizing Internal Communication. It will be available in a couple of months on my website at http://paulbartonabc.com and on http://www.amazon.com. It’s full of all the tips, tricks, templates and techniques that I’ve learned and developed over my career. I’m also developing workshops about strategic communication planning, communicating change, crisis communication, employee benefits communication, and how to be an effective internal communication consultant.

PLB: What are some of your favorite resources that inspire your work?
PB: I’ve been fortunate to have worked with some great corporate communicators over the years and learned so much from them. I’ve also learned a lot from workshops and reading from the greats like the godfather of internal communication Roger D’Aprix; communication consultants Tom Lee and Bill Hiniker; writing coach Ann Wylie; measurement experts Angela Sinickas, ABC and Wilma Mathews, ABC; and technology guru Shel Holtz, ABC. I stay current by reading and participating in the LinkedIn groups dealing with internal communication and by following the #internalcomms hashtag on Twitter. There are a lot of great ideas out there!

PLB: What is your contact information for questions, comments and ideas?
PB: You can connect with me in a variety of ways. My blog is http://www.paulbartonabc.com, my business Facebook page is http://www.facebook.com/PaulBartonCommunicationsLLC, my Twitter handle is @PaulBartonABC, my LinkedIn profile is http://www.linkedin.com/in/paulbartonabc and my Google Plus profile is https://plus.google.com/+PaulBartonABC/posts. I look forward to talking internal comms with you!

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?


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Every Great Intranet Reveals a Great Story

Flickr_-_paul_bica_-_hiddenPhoto by paul bica

In January and February’s posts, I shared ideas on how to incorporate strategic storytelling into your overall communication programs. I also provided you with a template to help you get started in identifying your organization’s great stories.

This month, I will share ideas on incorporating storytelling into your internal (employee) communication programs.

Let’s begin by focusing on your organization’s intranet. Use “9 Types of Content Every Intranet Should Have” by Andrew Wright, posted on www.ragan.com, as your checklist to build or improve upon your organization’s intranet.

A highly effective intranet makes it easier for employees to do their jobs, which means increased productivity, collaboration, engagement, and profitability for your organization.

Need some inspiration on why and how to tell great stories? Read “Three Tips to Telling a Persuasive Story” by ePals CEO Katya Andresen, posted on www.linkedin.com.

What features of your organization’s intranet do your employees find relevant and use the most? How does your organization’s intranet incorporate storytelling?


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How to Calculate the Value of Organizational Communication

© Jorge Royan / http://www.royan.com.ar / CC-BY-SA-3.0

© Jorge Royan / http://www.royan.com.ar / CC-BY-SA-3.0

Communicators know that effective communication delivers value to business in many tangible ways, but how can you show this value in a quantifiable way that is easy to understand?

Lorenzo Sierra of LoSierra Strategic Consulting, lorenzo@losierra.com, created a solution to this dilemma:

V=(c+e)p

That is, the value of communication is equal to the costs plus the efforts of what you’re communicating to the power of perception.

This equation is further explained in the attached article from the June/July 2003 edition of IABC’s Communication World. Sierra’s Theory of Communicativity_IABC CW

This concept was also applied to calculating the value of total rewards communication as detailed in the attached article from WorldatWork’s 2004 edition of Workspan. Lorenzo Sierra_Workspan_0204

How can this equation be applied to show the value of communication at your organization?