Cultivating A Work Environment Through Internal Communications



The following is an excerpt from The Evangelists: Insights from Leaders of the Nation’s Most Beloved Brands. Written by Monica Padillo, this chapter is titled "Cultivating A Work Environment Through Internal Communications.” In it, Corinna Carlos, the Corporate Communications Manager of MDI Novare, is interviewed about how the organization executes its strategy in giving value to internal communications in the workplace.

Many companies often overlook the importance of internal communications. Brand  awareness doesn’t only happen through external communications, but through initiatives  and marketing strategies done to inform employees about the brand that they’re working  for. This matter is something that Maria Corinna Carlos (who also goes by the nickname  “Cor”) focuses on as the current Corporate Communications and Culture Manager of MDI  Novare.  

Carlos’ recent experience with internal communications was when she worked at  Accenture as its Communications Specialist for four years prior to joining MDI Novare.  There, she handled internal campaigns aimed to engage and empower employees―both  for their corporate and personal lives. 

One of her most treasured efforts was organizing special International Women’s Day  (IWD) events in all local Accenture offices for four consecutive years. She remembered  being so fond of arranging such a program because she was able to tap influential and  remarkable women in the Philippines―such as Vice President Leni Robredo, former  PAG-IBIG (the home development mutual fund of the Philippine government) CEO Atty.  Darlene Berberabe, and Rappler CEO and renowned journalist Maria Ressa―to speak at  their event. 

“To be able to get them to our event was such a big accomplishment or achievement for me  because they recognize that our company is definitely moving the needle forward when it  comes to women empowerment and they do believe that it’s the perfect platform for them  to talk about their message or what they stand for,” Carlos said. 

However, she admitted that while starting the IWD events was rewarding, it was also quite  challenging at the start. Carlos recalled that organizing an event for up to 300 employees  and tapping external speakers were not easy feats. The preparation process took as long  as three months. 

“The most challenging one was my first one, because I didn’t know the scale of things. I  felt so lost and confused. So I had a lot of rookie mistakes and because of those mistakes,  it made me realize I cannot make the same mistakes again. To make up for it, I’m going  to make sure it becomes bigger and better each time it happens. So I guess my most  challenging is also my most rewarding.” 

She took these lessons learned from Accenture, along with her 12 years of experience in  the marketing and communications industry, with her in MDI Novare. Even in her current  role, she realizes many lessons almost every day.  

For example, part of her internal communications work at MDI Novare is talking to people,  building connections, and getting insights from them about their experiences in the  company. Carlos shared that she’s very much a people person, so interacting with as many people as she can within the company is a breeze for her. Sometimes acquaintances turned  into friendships, which helped her get deeper insights about the work that MDI Novare’s  employees do and the kind of culture that they thrive in. 

“I establish personal connections with people because that is where I kind of have a feel  of the type of environment that they enjoy, the type of events that they like, the type of  verbiage that they understand,” she said. 

Additionally, much like external communications, she uses various integrated marketing  communication (IMC) tools to further get a pulse of what the employees think about the  organization and what improvements they would like to see. She made observations,  formed a core team that consists of representatives for each MDI Novare department,  used their digital channels such as Workplace by Facebook to create content for everyone,  and more. 

These efforts proved to be effective for Carlos in learning what works best for MDI Novare  employees and afterwards creating her marketing strategies based on them. 

For instance, she once changed her internal communications tactics when she discovered  that a group of MDI Novare employees were intimidated by her posts written in English.  One of her colleagues assured her that her content was appropriate, but it seemed  daunting to some workers who were afraid of getting judged or laughed at for speaking a  mix of Tagalog and English. 

“For me, it’s important when managers replicate or understand what people find relevant.  It’s really having a pulse of the people, what they want, what they’re into. It’s not about us  telling them what to do. It’s about what gravitates them towards something, understanding  that, and using those insights to communicate your message,” she said. 

When the COVID-19 pandemic affected the Philippines, Carlos came up with more unique  solutions to retain the engaging culture within MDI Novare. One of the ways she was able  to do so was to launch a podcast that is broadcasted on their Workplace platform. 

Knowing that most of their employees were living alone in their apartments and  condominiums due to mobility restrictions in Metro Manila, she and two other colleagues  decided to start a podcast to entertain them. The trio would interview different MDI Novare  employees and talk about various topics related to their workforce. They had a couple of  MDI Novare workers discuss their coping mechanisms during the pandemic, such as how  shopping or baking has helped them feel more relaxed in the midst of uncertain times. 

They would also highlight inspirational stories in their podcast. One notable case is an MDI  Novare employee whose family initially ran a jersey printing business. They later expanded their  products to personal protective equipment (PPE) and face masks in relevance to the pandemic.

The podcast became an avenue for MDI Novare employees to talk about themselves and  truly belong in a caring community. The radio show also became a form of entertainment  for employees who wanted to end their tiring and stressful work days with something light  and fun. 

“In our company, we’re about 350 people. But of course, you can’t exactly talk and get to  know everyone. You’ll only be able to know at least 30 people. But with the podcast, we  are able to introduce our employees to others who don’t know them yet. It creates that  sense of community among the people,” Carlos said. 

She added that IMC is important in internal communications because it’s now more than  just communications and events―it helps shape culture as well. By using as many IMC  tools as she can, she is able to make employees feel empowered, aware, and engaged with  the company and, in turn, making them better ambassadors for the brand as well. 

“They can talk to people about what they do. They can talk about what their company is,  what the brand is about and the environment that they’re part of,” Carlos shared. “So for  me, focusing on IMC is a big piece of the puzzle. If you want to communicate about your  company or your brand in the most authentic way, you should do it through your people.”

To get more insights from other marketing leaders like [interviewee name], please check out the full book, available for purchase here

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