American Standard Companies
Just six years ago, American Standard Companies – a global manufacturing company with 60,000 employees in 50 countries – had no communications department to speak of. Shelly London arrived as the new VP of communications and faced a mammoth task: supporting the company’s three businesses – Air Conditioning Systems and Services, Bath and Kitchen, and Vehicle Control Systems – while starting from scratch.
The communications team that was assembled encountered a number of challenges over the course of the past year. In February, following the launch of a new whole-house air-filtration product designed to improve indoor air quality, the team set about trying to show the potential danger of unseen pollen, bacteria, and dust mites while explaining a technology that removes those airborne particles – not a simple thing to do.
The team focused on engaging health influencers to provide third-party credibility while targeting national media. It also hoped to inform employees to help spread the word. The effort gained traction in the media and pushed the product 16% ahead of its competitor. And employees were more informed about the product, with 5,500 new Clean Air ambassadors, 20% higher than expected.
The communications team was also faced with an age-old problem: how to keep employees productive, informed, and engaged amid change and restructuring. The team worked closely with the HR department to implement a “Productivity Partnership” program in a low-cost, underperforming ceramics plant in Asia. The effort set out to help employees understand why and how to improve performance, encouraging union involvement and support, while also changing management coaching. The results were stunning, with the plant’s productivity improving by 53% and manufacturing costs dropping nearly 40%.
Later in the year, the team effectively worked with business and HR leaders to manage the announcement that one of the company’s ceramics operations would be closed. The communications team kept leaders visible and accessible throughout the process to address staff questions and concerns in the weeks prior to the close.
Overall, the company’s communications team proved its business value several times over. The team helped rebuild the company’s global competitiveness in bath and kitchen, launch new products, and improve the strength of the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning business.
The media can be a skeptical bunch. EMC, a leader in the field of data storage, experienced this firsthand while it was in the midst of a buying spree, snapping up 17 companies in three years. The communications team was faced with attempting to promote EMC as a single brand after facing scrutiny from Wall Street and the company’s investment community. The One Voice Campaign was hatched to capture, consolidate, and simplify the messages of these companies under the EMC umbrella. The initiative aimed to effectively communicate the company’s acquisition strategy, portraying the moves as a critically strategic stem for maintaining EMC’s competitive advantage. The success was evident through a series of business stories portraying EMC’s successful transformation into an information-management powerhouse.
- American Standard Companies
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