📺 Internal Communications Introductions: Michelle Lyons Dandridge
Senior Director, Enterprise Communications and Colleague Engagement at Pfizer
In This Edition
🖥️ Importance of serving as business partners
📖 Potential of storytelling to influence our work
🎨 Power of creativity when applied to internal communications
Michelle Lyons Dandridge is Senior Director, Enterprise Communications and Colleague Engagement at Pfizer. In her role, Michelle leads the enterprise-wide editorial team, aligning the company’s 80,000 employees around critical business, colleague, and purpose initiatives. As Chief Editor of PfizerWorld, the pharmaceutical company’s global intranet, she shapes the content strategy and content creation for all enterprise-level internal digital platforms, helping to inform, educate, and inspire colleagues around the world through creative and innovative storytelling.
Prior to Pfizer, Michelle served as Director, Global Communications at MetLife, where she led employee communications. At MetLife, she managed the global intranet, overseeing content creation across internal and external platforms to educate and engage more than 57,000 employees in 40 countries. She also served as on-air talent and voice-over artist for the company’s internal videos.
Before joining the corporate world, Michelle worked in television as a producer and writer for broadcast news stations in New York and Baltimore. She earned an Emmy nomination for her coverage of Hurricane Sandy. Michelle splits her time between New York City and Charlotte, North Carolina.
What sparked your professional path into Internal Communications?
I started my career in television. I was a news producer and writer for CBS, NBC, and Fox local stations. It was a rewarding career but after several years, I’d had enough of TV news — the odd hours, working weekends and holidays, all the doom and gloom news — and wanted to do something different. It was time for a career change. I love writing, producing videos, and telling stories, so I began to think about where I could use my skills and experience from television.
As I connected with people in PR and communications, my path led me to internal communications. I knew this was a field I’d enjoy because it would allow me to continue doing what I love and do best. I especially liked the idea of focusing on one company and having colleagues as my audience. ny and making sure they’re aligned on the company’s strategy and overall purpose. I joined MetLife as Director of Global Communications. I was a member of the editorial team for six years. I managed the intranet and created content for our internal communications channels. A year ago, I joined Pfizer to lead the Enterprise Communications, editorial team.
How do you describe internal communications to others?
When people ask me what I do, I say I keep colleagues informed on what's happening around the company and help increase employee engagement and excitement. Our job as internal communicators is to connect the dots for colleagues to help them understand how their role aligns with the company’s strategy and purpose, Breakthroughs that change patients’ lives.
We’re the internal PR team; we inform, inspire, and educate colleagues, and use our different channels to make connections. I tell people we touch all areas of the organization — from the Office of the CEO on down — and shape all the messaging we deliver to colleagues, whether it’s products and patients, key achievements and milestones, diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, crisis communication, or moments of joy — we cover it all. As business partners, we help drive adoption of strategy, programs, and initiatives, while highlighting our values and culture and creating an amazing workplace for all.
What is one project you are particularly proud to have accomplished?
I’m changing the way we communicate internally to our colleagues and senior leaders.
When I was at MetLife, I revamped the way we told stories. I took it from facts only to using storytelling and relatable anecdotes. It’s all about making an emotional connection and using simple, easy-to-understand language. You want your content to resonate with your audience.
For example, if you're informing colleagues about the new parental leave program, find a colleague who has used it to tell the story instead of listing all the information — what it is and why it's important. Show colleagues the benefits of the program by profiling the employee who took advantage of it and using their experience to bring it to life. I also tapped into my journalism background and launched two employee news video series.
At Pfizer, I’m bringing storytelling to the forefront by putting colleagues at the center of every story. The Enterprise Communications and Colleague Engagement team is constantly experimenting with different communication and content formats. We recently launched an earnings podcast with the Head of Investor Relations, and that continues to evolve. Additionally, I focus on communications about Covid-19 updates through emails, articles, videos, and town halls — from information about the vaccine and variants to vaccination efforts and initiatives aimed at closing the gap on health inequalities.
What are the skills that are most important for someone to succeed in Internal Communications?
Number one: writing. Number two: being able to tell a story. Also, creativity, collaboration, and big-picture thinking. It’s also about relationships — you need to have relationship skills and learn how to build those relationships whether you're dealing with your direct reports or senior leaders. With relationship skills, you can influence, empower, and make a case for the types of stories you want to tell.
How do you continue learning about the field of Internal Communications?
I’m always looking for the latest information about employee communications. I attend conferences as a speaker, sharing my knowledge with other communicators. I also attend as a participant. My go-to organizations are Ragan Communications and Advanced Learning Institute.
I recently attended two virtual conferences: Unite 22 and PlayPlay Content Summit. There’s information about internal communication and employee engagement everywhere — even unlikely sources. I read white papers and connect with my network to learn what others are doing.
Fast Forward and envision the future of Internal Communications. What does it look like to you?
Internal Communications is important, now more than ever. With the new way of working — hybrid, remote, in the office — the way we communicate with colleagues is changing and the Internal Communications teams are leading it.
In the future, there will be more creativity, more out-of-the-box thinking, more visuals, and more snackable content. Internal Communications will mirror how colleagues consume their content externally. It will be streamlined and easy for colleagues to consume.
Thank you for reading The Switchboard. ☎️ Every edition is personally curated by me — Julia Levy. This article is based on a live interview conversation and edited for publication. Learn more about why I write. Review the Index of past posts.
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Hi Michelle, Mr. Macke says hello ..