2008 PR News Platinum PR Issue Winner: Internal Publication

The winners and honorable mentions in this year's PR news Platinum PR awards issue exemplify the most innovative approaches to redefining traditional PR with anything-but- traditional strategies. From a marketing communications effort that united a country over the search for the stars of a 1950s TV commercial to an event that landed a flock of pink flamingos around the windy city, the following winner confirms that the PR profession has indeed stepped out from the shadows to take a front-and-center role in delivering business results to their own organizations, and to their clients. Below is the winner of the 2008 PR News Platinum PR award for internal publication.


AOL Today

The very nature of human interaction is changing, thanks to the evolution of communications platforms, and corporate leaders are feeling the pressure to evolve their methods of engaging employees accordingly. Despite its leadership in the online space, AOL struggled to adapt its internal communications strategies to this new environment, its efforts stymied by a legacy intranet site that was static and difficult to update.

This realization, along with the urgent need to communicate with AOL employees during a time of transition, prompted the corporate communications team to take the lead in rebuilding its internal network to be more informative, engaging and interactive. The ultimate goal: fostering a global community with the employee base and allowing for a two-way conversation between the corpcomm department and AOL employees.

Digital Toolbox

The communications department executives assembled a small team of content experts, including two former journalists and technology experts, to enable a quick turnaround time. After an in-depth evaluation of the company's content management needs--the source needed to be extremely customized without requiring extensive development time--the team settled on an open source publishing platform. This choice kept costs to a minimum, allowed owners to add/edit/localize content as needed, and provided easy-to-use tools that didn't require technical experience. Plus, local language navigation made the site relevant to employees in other countries.

Voluntary Conversations

By implementing community-centric features, including user comments, must-read ratings, viral videos and photo galleries, the team effectively created an engaging and interactive community, not to mention a vehicle for internal advertising, contests and employee-directed initiatives. But the greatest measure of success comes with the metrics: daily unique visitors to the site average 50% of the worldwide employee base, representing the number of overall users.