📦 Internal Communications Introductions: Meet Elizabeth Rasberry
Internal Communications Leader at ABB
I enjoyed talking with Elizabeth Rasberry to learn about her career path. This is her internal communications story.
Elizabeth is an experienced communications leader who loves working with colleagues to turn business objectives into authentic, compelling stories for employees from the frontline to the C-suite. With more than 15 years experience in leading employee communications, external, public relations, and crisis communications teams, she brings a unique perspective to her work.
Elizabeth is responsible for internal communications for ABB Installation Products Division, formerly Thomas & Betts, a global leader in the design, manufacture and marketing of products used to manage the connection, protection and distribution of electrical power in industrial, construction and utility applications.
What sparked your professional path into Internal Communications?
I was working in interactive communications at UPS and always had an interest in PR, but it was not easy to transition into that department. I met a colleague in PR at an internal communications conference and I asked if I could shadow her for a day. I learned about her path, and we kept in touch. Several months later, there was an opportunity to move into that department! I transitioned into that role working on PR in reputation management, supporting the Foundation, HR, corporate social responsibility and environmental work.
Then, I moved to Cox to work in PR and support their commercial services, Cox Business. The team that I supported didn’t have an Internal Communications lead. They didn’t have a formal way to coordinate communication with employees but certainly had internal communication needs as they were a critical part of the company’s growth. There were some staffing changes, and I asked if I could focus on this role and pivot into internal communications. I had not worked in this area before, but I knew the value of it because I had been a recipient of employee communications and learned a lot from PR.
That first month, I found a conference in Internal Communications. I tried to absorb everything I could. I asked a lot of questions, interviewed stakeholders, and found opportunities to make an impact. Then, I got started in a few impactful ways. The team had an Intranet that needed content. I worked on leader messaging templates, formats for organizational announcements, monthly newsletters, and distribution lists. I continued to learn and grow from there.
How do you describe your role to others?
Whether it’s speech writing or content development, it is about taking complex subjects and making it easy to understand for employees. Then, it’s about connecting it back to employees and recognizing they have a part to play in it.
At the same time, there is this big audience of employees, but underneath that, you have all these sub-audiences who are very different: sales, business development, customer service, and many more constituents who have different needs. You have to figure out the best way to message each of them.
What is one project you are particularly proud to have accomplished?
I started my career at CNN, so I knew the power of video storytelling. With a limited budget, I bought some accessories — a stabilizer (a selfie stick), a ring light, a microphone — all for under $100 to arm my smartphone with the tools to make videos.
Whether it was employees in the corporate office or me driving to a customer site, I captured video and produced my own version of a “day in the life” video.
One example was when I asked to tag along with a group of salespeople who were visiting the corporate office for a recognition program. I grabbed my equipment and captured video throughout the day. I interviewed the participants about the day’s highlights, the interactions with leadership at headquarters and more. I added music and worked with a colleague to edit the footage. Employees had heard of the program, but they didn’t truly understand what it was. After sharing the video, they could see that they would really sit with the President, see the corporate office, experience our company in an exciting way. From a sales leader perspective, it became a motivational program to earn this trip and participate.
What are the skills that are most important for someone to succeed in Internal Communications?
Beyond being a strong writer, project manager, and having relationships, being naturally curious is really important. It keeps you interested and asking questions and ensures you ask: what would I want to receive from the messages I’m writing. Relationships are so important. You must meet people and build relationships so you can ultimately create better content. The more people you know, the better you understand the business.
To be a successful internal communications professional, you can’t just sit at your desk and write, you’ve got to pick up the phone, ask questions, have virtual coffees now, to find out about their department. It might not be until months later that you tap into that relationship but keep in touch to be able to reach out when the time is right.
What advice do you have for Internal Communications professionals?
You have to be super resourceful, scrappy, and teach people how to fish. If employees are coming to you for organizational announcements, then, create templates and ask people to take the first step to write it and offer to edit it. If you create a template, it could save you 30 minutes per announcement. Over a month’s time, if that gives you two hours back.
Toolkits and templates are helpful. It teaches employees that they are a part of it and sets you up as an expert. You’re the authority on the subject and employees can come to you for counsel, without coming to you do everything from scratch and spread yourself thin.
How do you continue learning about the field of Internal Communications?
I have attended conferences, such as the IABC (International Association of Business Communicators). They have local chapters and have great content sessions. PRSA has an employee communications group. I attend webinars, reading blogs. I have a folder on my computer called IC Resources and if I see an article, I’ll go back to it. Also, on LinkedIn, there are great groups to interact with other members.
Love the "job crafting" by noting the intersection of personal interest and business need. Great story, Elizabeth and Julia!