May 17, 2020

conference

SMW employees

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"Our attitude had to change because the world had changed."

This was the attitude that BoeingVice President for Global Channel and Content Marketing Georgina Goode was taken to heart when the company's communications were delayed with the deployment of COVID-19. The aerospace industry was hit hardest with billions of people left grounded at home. For Goode, however, the focus was less on the bottom line than on the people and relationships affected by this shift. In conversation with her long-time colleague Talkwalker CEO for America Todd GrossmanGoode responded to the "relevant, attributable, and human" attitude that Boeing maintained, even as a company that is often classified as B2B by category.

Here are the key findings and insights:

  • Be consistent and inconsistent with your messages
  • Don't be anything that you are not
  • Be friendly to others and yourself when adapting, especially in times of crisis

Forget how we should "show up"

In fact, Goode is reluctant to classify B2B and instead prefers to focus on the needs of the group, not how the brand should present itself in its digital communication. "Let us not try to be something that we are not," she said as her guiding philosophy for designing communication that can be fulfilled the moment we are. "When you focus on needs and expectations, you stay relevant."

One of the highlights of how Boeing met these requirements and expectations was to honor VE Day at the beginning of the month by sharing archive material from 1940s Boeing aircraft, and sharing interactive material from the 777X aircraft prior to its launch into the fleet in 2021 and even creating virtual data excursions for those who need a digital escape for the little ones at home. "We are not fighting for content for a company that is 104 years old," she said. And this wide range of content has allowed flexibility in presentation at this moment.

"Consistent, not uniform" and more guiding principles

When asked how to deal with the many stakeholders that Boeing has as a brand, Goode shared six guiding principles that helped teams around the world weather this storm with a sense of stability that other areas of life simply don't offer. One key: "consistent, not uniform." The use of common data processes, technologies and tools ensures that the message comes from a common place, regardless of whether the communication is directed internally to other parts of the company or externally to shareholders and stakeholders.

"We have different target groups and different needs, but we form teams around interest groups and adapt to needs or expectations." This includes how social media is used to communicate with Boeing employees. Recognize that the needs of a team in South Carolina or Chicago can be very different from those in Arlington, Washington. And although this news is somewhat the same, Goode sees it as "a single narrative that is used differently depending on what people need and how people need to hear it."

Be polite. Including for yourself

Given the technical nature of Boeing's work, it might be surprising to hear how human Goode is to work for her. When asked how her teams adapt to these rapidly evolving and often stressful circumstances, she shared a list of axioms that she had found online, including the crucial "The success of this team is not judged as it was, than things were normal. " Even if the team evolves their work to meet the current moment, Goode will not lose the toll that such a development could mean for their team members.

“Relationships are at the core of our content creation,” she said, extending this idea not only to the content that was created, but also to the people who create it. She is committed to connectivity with her team and to the idea that these check-ins aren't just about business. The kindness that she brings into her work is a kindness that she shows to her team – and asked the participants to expand themselves. "We are more connected now than ever before, but it can still feel lonely," she admitted when she encouraged viewers to mix a few memes with their still important (but not the most important) memos that flying around in our inboxes at record speed.

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