Jeremy Schultz: Straddling the Firewall

Exhibit 718 to never interview by email

Posted in Work by Jeremy Schultz on March 10, 2010

We’re running a series of intranet profiles on execs who run businesses outside our bread-and-butter. We’re doing all we can to make them compelling, covering a mix of what’s happening now in their business, their management style, and how they balance their (usually enormous) workload with life beyond work.

The only way to achieve that goal–to build something that people will want to read–is to interview the person face-to-face.

No matter what kind of story I’m doing, I have to speak to a person live. Even if all I need is a short quote, I’d always rather meet up, or at least have a quick phone chat.

I have colleagues who think the exec they work for is less than eloquent, and insist upon positioning that person as a “thought leader” who is “shaping the industry.” They craft platitudes–just the kind you’ll find in your prototype press release–and have that exec sign them off.

Not me. If we need to make someone sound more eloquent, let’s send them to Toastmasters, or hire them a coach.

For the first profile I took part in, I flew up to our headquarters and had a really good conversation with this exec. He spoke with tons of energy, told me stories, and gave me exactly what I was looking for.

I edited the transcript down, got it all cleaned up, and sent it to the exec’s assistant for a final thumbs up.

To my delight, the changes made were minimal–except one new paragraph. This new paragraph replaced what had been a very simple, straightforward answer to my first question.

This new paragraph was impenetrable, and contained this gem of a sentence:

The modem and system integration requirements have raised the bar on organization capability and required a completely new lexicon to navigate internally and externally with the ecosystem and customers.

The what to the what?

Sentences like that don’t come out of anyone’s mouth. And if they do, they require at least three follow up questions, after which you’ll get an answer you can use.

So, whenever you need words that originate from a human being for a story–of any type–make sure you can talk live. Otherwise, plan to block off a lot of time editing.

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I’m going with “social computing”

Posted in Work by Jeremy Schultz on February 15, 2009

Russel recently asked, “What should we call ‘Intranet Social Media’?”

The commenters came to no conclusion. I don’t have the answer.

For now on, however, I’m going with Social Computing. Why? It’s what our IT group is calling it (Laurie, who wrote that post, is the program manager for social computing tools in IT.)

Simple as that. I don’t know why they decided to use it, but it works for me. I like the fact that it’s open ended; enterprise 2.0, for instance, suggests you know what the end looks like.

So, I won’t talk about our “intranet social media plan,” or driving enterprise 2.0 as a communicator. I won’t talk about a socialist revolution. I’ll stick with social computing, and how I use it as a communicator, to reach employees worldwide.

Building an intranet social media usage plan for communications

Posted in Work by Jeremy Schultz on February 5, 2009

My colleague Nisha and I are building what we’re calling a Social Media Usage Plan for our global employee communications department. The plan has three main goals:

  • Define and drive usage of social computing tools by our department as both a communications channel and a way to better collaborate within our organization
  • Drive employee adoption and appropriate use of social tools to better collaborate, share, and discover colleagues and information
  • Influence senior leaders on the value of social tools for their personal communications plans and to strengthen their organizations

To get there, we’ve started to define where we are now, and where we want to go.

The current state

I don’t think we’re bleeding edge in the adoption of social tools, but we’re not too shabby. Here’s what we have inside the firewall today, and we use each tool in communications:

  • Blogs: Any employee can sign up and start their own blog, and we have several “group” blogs, used by programs and projects for status updates, etc. I think we have roughly 2000 active blogs. For communications, we have a blog that we use to capture comments for global intranet news stories. We also occasionally feature an employee blog on our main intranet site, from the CEO down to individual contributors.
  • Forums: The blog site also contains forums, which are more active, and far more diverse than the blogs. Forums range from hobbies (cycling, gaming), to teams and organizations, to temporary campaigns. We use forums primarily for occasional web jams. Several organizations have conducted 2-3 day jams over the last couple years, with rich discussion and very positive results.
  • Wikis: We have a central, anyone-can-edit wiki called Intelpedia, that is used pretty widely. It started as a carpet server project (as did blogs), and was eventually crowned “official” by IT. There are also several private, departmental wikis spread across the company. We use Intelpedia to capture the living information we write in news articles, and we frequently link to reference material there from within our stories.
  • RSS: Besides the syndication offerings of the three aforementioned tools, RSS is spotty. We offer RSS of our news articles, and several departmental newsletters do, too. For better or worse, all of these also offer email. We have an IT-approved RSS reader, but it’s not automatically installed on all machines. In my experience so far, consumption of RSS is limited to those with at least a bit of IT geekiness.
  • Microsharing, MOSS, IM, Flickr, Facebook…: A handful of other tools, with varying levels of social capabilities, exist across the company. A few biz groups have custom tools, we have a microsharing proof of concept underway, we have an employee group on Flickr, and we have quite a bit of folks on Facebook. The one of these we feature in our communications is an occasional top 5 employee Flickr photos story as a “Friday fun” kind of feature.

How can we more explicitly use social computing tools as a communications organization to connect with employees, fosters connections between employees, and inspire better cross-group innovation? That’s what we’re working to do.

In my next post, I’ll talk about what’s coming on the social computing roadmap, and how we can improve use of social tools by communications as a channel and as a collaboration tool.

Big press events: Do employees care?

Posted in Work by Jeremy Schultz on January 7, 2009

I hope so! I’m asking this question as I head to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) first thing in the morning Thursday.

Overall, I think there’s value in attending and getting our company’s story at events like this. It’s no guarantee that external press is going to take that angle (unless you are Google, Apple, or Microsoft). Plus, it’s exciting to see what Intel customers do with the silicon innovation that we make. It builds employee pride to see the end result of years of hard work playing out in the marketplace.

I’ve never been to CES, but I want to try something different than our news team has done before. I’m going to help produce, star in, and edit a quick video tour of Intel’s booth, highlighting what’s new from the employee’s perspective. The main things that I’ll be watching for are:

What do you think? Do big trade shows and press events matter to employees?

More about me and what I do

Posted in Work by Jeremy Schultz on December 31, 2008

As I wrote on my about page, I work in employee communications at Intel. My team is called Circuit News; we write global news stories for the central intranet site at Intel, which is called Circuit. (A quick search reveals that a few folks have improperly re-hosted some old articles—note the dropped-e logo—such as this one and that one.)

Our team sits within the employee communications department, which also includes benefits, rewards, manager, and executive communication; video production; events management; and several business group-specific communications. The department then rolls directly into HR.

I tell people that I’m sort of an internal reporter, but I like to do more than that. I’m a problem solver at heart (I was a software developer for 8 years before this job), and I have a thirst for learning that continually drives me to new opportunities. Since I’m responsible for global content, I get to play a part in tons of events and initiatives inside the company, so that helps keep work fresh for me.

I’m the main social media guru, if such a thing exists, on our team. I’ve been an active internal blogger since our blogs were run on a carpet server in a colleague’s cubicle back in 2003. I’ve also been a prominent user and advocate of our main wiki, Intelpedia, which was also started a carpet-server side project (by Josh Bancroft and a few others).

Why blog now? It’s now been just over a year since I moved from IT database engineering to corporate communications. It’s been a wild ride and I’m finally feeling like I have some traction—and things to share. Plus, there aren’t enough of us out here and I’d like to see more open sharing of what’s happening inside companies.

What to write about? Simply put, I want to write about my job. How we use blogs, to how and what we write, to social tools coming soon, to whatever else crosses my path.

Nice to meet you, too!