As a media giant, News Corp as an organization needs little introduction. Though embattled recently and coping with the challenges of a still-ongoing series of setbacks, most notably some damaging public allegations, it was those very challenges that led it to meet these events by trying to strengthen and unify its own company culture.
There’s no question that the company is a juggernaut in its own right with over 50,000 employees, $34 billion in U.S. revenue, and $60 billion in combined assets. As a large organization with workers in dozens of countries, it faces a similar problem that many highly distributed global companies do: Creating a good connection between workers in different physical locations. A healthy company culture, a positive esprit de corps, and just plain effective operations demands good connection and coordination amongst employees in different areas as they collaborate on team efforts and learn from each other by sharing best practices.
A little over five years ago, Tiffany LaBanca, senior vice president of internal communications at News Corp began looking at workplace trends and it became clear to her:
[We saw] these trends coming together at a very macro level around what workplaces were going to be like in 2020, where internal communication was moving and the rapid rise of social networking. Through putting those three themes together, there was a really big ‘aha!’ moment, in that social technology is changing the world and it will begin to challenge the way business gets done. Around the same time, we were also hearing requests from our employees – they were asking to connect with people in other parts of our businesses with similar jobs to theirs so they could learn from each other and innovate faster.
Tiffany’s insights soon led her to create an internal social networking experience at News Corp. Dubbed OurNews, the service now offers a single, consistent way for employees around the world to come together, find each other, connect, share information, and brainstorm. At last report, the social network brings together 55,000 visitors a month from over 35 countries, with a reach of approximately 15,000 workers.
Many of those planning enterprise social networks want to know the staffing breakdown of large company efforts so they can get a sense of the people requires and the skills they need. The staffing profile for OurNews consists of five people. Tiffany herself spends over half of her time on OurNews dealing with executive and administrative needs of the service. Next is a community manager, a role that provides a wide variety of support services to keep the social network vibrant and engagement. Third is a content specialist that manages user-generated as well as custom-created content to profile new ideas as well as highlight special messages and strategic communication from the company itself. The fourth role is manager of internal communications, who acts as an operations manager and delivers the OurNews marketing plan to drive awareness and employee participation. Lastly is a systems administrator to deal with the technology platform itself as well as user registration, troubleshooting, and the testing and rollout of the latest features and new functionality.
As for the technology that powers News Corp.’s social network, OurNews is based on the Jive social business platform, one of the few major new up-and-coming players in enterprise social networks (compared to the industry IT giants such as Microsoft and IBM, anyway), which recently went public quite successfully.
The story of OurNews however, like many social networks of all kinds, is still unfolding. While it’s a compelling example from the media industry and has become one of the more mature examples in the space, there’s still more to learn. In fact, we’ll get a chance to hear more about News Corp.’s progress with OurNews at the end of this month from Tiffany herself. I was kindly invited recently to participate in a Jive Software Webcast on May 30th along with Tiffany to explore more details of their social business success story. I’ll hope you join us. I will write an addendum to this post with the latest updates in case you cannot make it. (Disclaimer: I’m being compensated for my time for this appearance.)