Best in-house team 2018: internal communications - private sector Article icon

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Just over a year ago, an internal communications function did not exist at Britvic, the soft drinks company that counts J20, Robinsons and Tango among its brand portfolio. Indeed, there was not even an intranet. Today, there is a three person team - Rachel Dies, Becca Alderton and Kirsten Donovan - and a suite of four active employee platforms. 


With a ‘small budget’ from the outset, the new team prioritised five areas which, in their view, would fix the basics and allow them to communicate with 5,000 employees across four markets - the UK, Ireland, France and Brazil - and an international business, focusing on franchising and distribution, with operations in North America, Singapore and the Netherlands. 


The only common channel used by the business was email, but when the team realised that Office 365 was being used at the IT platform, they could see the potential.


They focused their efforts on influencing brand advocacy, delivering more engaging people communications and creating Strategy, Performance and Reward messages. The key was to establish communications around being a trusted and respected business. But they also to deliver new, measurable digital channels.


Each member took responsibility for a specific area. Alderton was responsible for digital channels, Donovan for measurement and Dies took the lead on partnerships, after the team recognised that - as a small team with a small budget - they needed to become part of the units they were interacting with, to be a trusted adviser and a respected authority. Dies implemented business partnerships with Britvic in the UK and also the international division. In the other markets, she and the team collaborated with local Human Resources, teaching them how to track the effectiveness of their messaging.


The internal comms team also forged a close alliance with Britvic’s IT team, leveraging off their relationship with Microsoft to get free advice and expertise on how to use Office 365 tools. This insight was used to build Britvic’s first single sign-on interactive intranet - with five simple sections: Our company, Our brands, A healthier everyday, Our people and Our tools & services. ‘Once we had a working intranet, we had measurement,’ explain the team. Colourful Your handy guide to our new intranet accordion-fold cards, which explained how to get started, were distributed. These were also digitised and animated, and shown on screens at manufacturing sites. 


The team then digitised Britvic’s paper-based community magazine, saving £100,000 per annum to be used on other things, relaunching Zest-e in line with its Healthier everyday strategy on sustainability. Collaborative tools, such as Yammer and Stream, followed. 


They also worked closely with the leadership teams, particularly in the GB, Ireland and International divisions, helping them to develop their first communications plans, all focused on using Office 365 technology and also bite-sized performance messages by video.


The team’s goal at the outset was to improve the score for how engaged employees feel in Britvic’s annual Great Place to Work survey, which includes a specific question about internal communications. Within a year, this metric had risen by five per cent. Reach rates and advocacy levels have also improved across the areas where Dies had led the partnership drives. The numbers are still small, but the scale of improvement is dramatic. 

Such has been the positive feedback that the team are now embarking on rolling out intranets, apps and videos in France and Brazil next year.