Playback this informative and engaging session with Rachel Tolhurst, Director of Communications at Amey. Rachel gives us a virtual tour of her comms channels – and an overview of her approach to strategic planning and measurement.

On the 11th February 2021, simplycommunicate was joined by Rachel Tolhurst, Head of Corporate Communications at Amey for a Behind the Firewall session. 

Talking all-things intranet and engagement, Rachel has been with Amey, a civil engineering infrastructure services company, for nearly a decade.  

Rachel currently manages all digital – internal and external – brand, creative, social media channels and of course, internal communications.  

Lisa Pantelli, simply’s Head of Content and Community shared that strategic planning and measurement is something that internal communicators are especially keen to learn about in current times. 

Rachel and her team were challenged beyond belief in December, when a few days before Christmas, Amey’s systems were the victim of a cyberattack which switched off its intranet. 

Calm in a crisis, Rachel explained that she ‘couldn’t be happier to fix a problem’, setting herself the task of building a new intranet called AmeyWorld.  

The first key consideration was security, so the way employees accessed the intranet, hosted by Umbraco, had to change.  

Following a virtual training session, Rachel was able to carry out discovery work to make a list of elements to include on the new intranet. Features such as a story carousel are easily customisable, thanks to Microsoft SharePoint. 

With no legacy content to migrate due to the cyberattack, the IC team were free from constraints and were able to make quicker and better decisions, leading to a build that took less than a day to complete.  

After great feedback in preview, Amey’s new intranet was launched, showcasing a variety of content such as the Pulse employee survey, CEO briefing and apprenticeship case studies. 

The Pulse employee survey focuses on wellbeing, using an Employee Wellbeing Index, asking a mix of corporate-style and counselling-style questions to build an overview of individual and team mental health.  

What were the benefits of an ‘out of the box’ solution? 

  •  No HTML skills were required – it’s all there for customisation. It’s interactive, flexible and simple 
  • Content management only – keeping stories and calendars up to date can be reorganised by drag and drop 
  • Maximum impact for minimum effort – copy isn’t duplicated, as it can be linked straight to the website 
  • Yammer feed integration – the cyberattack meant no intranet, which pushed Yammer engagement up by 11,000% 
  • Stats are built in – these show numbers of readers on internal documents and highlights the most popular news stories 

 What challenges were identified? 

  • Open rates – comms that focused on individuals, for example, ‘win a Garmin watch’, were opened more than those focused on appraisals 
  • An emerging skills gap – in communications, not everyone is familiar with Excel and building reports 
  • Offline comms – producing a printed magazine to send to all employees’ homes doesn’t guarantee the information has been read, i.e., on employee benefits 
  • Content was lost – although new content was created, legacy content wasn’t recoverable and couldn’t be migrated 

simplycommunity members can playback the full session here. 

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