Case Study
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HOW A MICROSITE BECAME A GLOBAL CHANNEL IN TIMES OF CHANGE

When a major company development was announced, SABMiller’s microsite had to power up.

9th February 2017

“I used to learn about SABMiller first from the press… and from official channels a few months afterwards. Now I feel it’s almost immediate.”

SABMILLER EMPLOYEE (SURVEY RESPONDENT)

A microsite to support a conference attended by the top 200 leaders in SABMiller evolved to become a key communication tool during the largest ever acquisition of a UK-listed company.

 
The Source launched in 2013 to give senior leaders somewhere to access information, share learnings and discuss issues through written and filmed content. Gradually, the volume of content increased, as did the size of the audience – up to about 6,000 leaders, with site visits more than doubling to 5,000 visits in just over a year.
 
Everything changed when the acquisition of SABMiller by AB InBev was announced in November 2015. SAB Miller decided to use The Source to help manage uncertainty and maintain morale and motivation across the entire workforce as the deal progressed.
 
This created a huge internal communication challenge for the company, as Diana Klusch, head of global employee communications, explains: “We wanted everyone to understand ‘what does it mean for me?’ We wanted people to receive information as fast as possible, from the company leaders, not from external sources. And we wanted to make sure that the whole organisation received the same clear, transparent, aligned messages. We also hosted a toolkit on The Source to equip leaders with the answers to questions we knew would be asked of them. The Source wasn’t a substitute for oral communication, but a complement to it.”
 

80%

Survey respondents who said they were ‘very happy’ with the channel, with particular praise for the speed of communication regarding the acquisition.


 
The Source’s remit was changed and it became the key communication channel for the acquisition, including a page dedicated to all deal-related announcements. Access was extended to staff that were likely to be heavily impacted by the acquisition, which included more junior staff in the headquarters. By April 2016, The Source reached almost 8,500 employees and an average of 16,500 monthly page views.
 
In a survey in early 2016, employees praised The Source for its focus on and communication about the acquisition, and for sticking to its purpose. The team used employees’ feedback to declutter the design and reorganise content so that information was easier to find and covered different functions, many of which were traditionally under-represented.
 
Diana concludes: “The Source was initially thought of as a temporary solution, filling the gap of a global intranet, designed for an event and a small community. Some leaders thought it would never take off. Despite their concerns, the site was launched and grew to be the main channel during a major change. We kept it flexible and agile, and we were continually tinkering and improving it, particularly in response to feedback – and that’s a key reason why the page views kept increasing. When we needed it most, it was the right channel.”

Diana’s key learning points
 

  • Do not wait for a better channel to come along. Start developing, even if it is small scale, and keep building.

 

  • Take decisive action when needed. The Source had a small, defined audience, but we opened it out so that a wider audience could get fast, first-hand access to critical information on the AB InBev offer process.

 

  • Keep flexible and agile. Adapt to the needs of the audience and the company, keep on improving and respond to feedback.

 

  • Use the channels to bring your leaders closer to the people,especially in changing, difficult periods. SABMiller CEO Alan Clark’s blog consistently had the highest readership.

 

  • Tap into stories of passion and inspiration within the organisation. Bring them to life.

“I used to learn about SABMiller first from the press… and from official channels a few months afterwards. Now I feel it’s almost immediate.”

SABMILLER EMPLOYEE (SURVEY RESPONDENT)

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