How Expedia engages with dialogue and staff-created videos


You can’t go desk to desk, waving your arms and shouting, “Hey! Listen up, this is important!”

One of the most intimidating challenges facing corporate communicators is prying employees loose from their jam-packed schedules—demanding jobs and hectic personal lives—to pay attention to the company’s internal messages.

Kristin Graham, Expedia’s VP for engagement and communications, says internal communicators wishing to command the attention of today’s employees must embrace the rapid evolution of today’s digital tools.

Graham will offer her insights at Ragan Communications’ Social Media for PR and Corporate Communications Conference, Feb. 18-20 at Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. In her talk, “Dos and Don’ts Learned from Dot-Com Employee Communications,” she’ll reveal how Expedia has met these challenges and achieved extraordinary success in staff engagement.

The first key, Graham says, is interacting with employees, not bombarding them with corporate messages.

“There’s no such thing as a communications department anymore,” she says. “This is a world of user-generated content, so we’ve got to use our employees to engage our employees.”

This strategy works as well for a small company as it does for one with thousands on the payroll. “Every one of our employees is a communicator,” she says. “Once you see that and harness it, you can dramatically extend your virtual reach.”

Think globally; enlist locally

The second success factor for engaging employees, Graham says, is breaking out of headquarters-centric and even U.S.-centric thinking, especially for an international company.

“You have to be a global communicator, and that means finding embedded reporters—the ‘friendlies’ among your staff, wherever they are—and encouraging them to take part,” Graham says.

She believes employee-generated content is far more powerful and interesting because it’s real-far more authentic than what a communications department can generate.

Graham warns, however, that despite their resistance, communicators must let go in order to survive. It’s a matter of self-preservation, she says.

Create stories with mass appeal

Finally, Graham believes that telling great stories—especially fun stories—lies at the heart of every thriving internal communications program. She recommends that communicators raise the bar when it comes to telling their internal stories—make them exciting to the external world as well.

“Ask yourself: Why would someone from outside the company be interested in this? Why would someone care if they saw it on LinkedIn?” she says. Her goal is to make employees and outsiders click on their internal stories to find out more.

As for making stories fun, Graham cites Expedia’s love of employee-created videos. Her team posted its short video of employees who won raffle prizes at the company party. The Trivago team in Europe created a musical video that has garnered more than 11,000 views on YouTube.

“Human nature is to have fun,” she says. “We’re social beings. If you’re not injecting fun into your communications, you’re condemned to always writing about dental plans.”

To learn more from Graham and 18 other expert speakers, join us at Disney this February. Get registered here!  

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