I had the pleasure of hearing Gordon Dowall-Potter (@gdp566) Group Head of Internal Communications at Kier, speak at the Digital Transformation conference in Cologne (#wcdgtc). His refreshing presentation style confirmed to me that in fact it’s not all about digital. Print and face to face channels very much have a place in an internal communications strategy especially when working within industries with frontline employees such as Kier. This is something we agree with at theblueballroom, working with clients such as DHL, Transport for London and a major airline to name a few, we face similar challenges everyday ensuring the right messages reach all employees whilst having limited or no access to digital devices.

Gordon and his team have the responsibility to communicate to all 24,000 employees and he shared with us his two top tips to start with any communications planning:

  1. Strike the right balance. Invest time into audience segmentation to ensure your channels provide opportunities to have conversations both digitally and face to face.
  2. Conduct a channel audit. Understand what’s really working for you already by carrying out research and taking note of all measurement and insight from historical efforts.

Gordon believes that there should always be a “red thread that runs through all channels.” Which is a great way to ensure you are creating an integrated approach.

Online + Offline = One Line

No matter the channel used, it must be suitable for the audience. The audience should always come first to stand a chance of gaining engagement and adoption. Gordon also shared that the most effective strategies are often the least complicated. He kindly shared the Kier Internal Communications objectives which beautifully illustrate just that.  It consisted of one page including clear objectives that have been derived from the vision, values and insights from their engagement survey. 

Kier are very good at two-way communication and ensure replies are within 48 hours no matter what channel has been used.

A few examples of channels used at Kier:

  • “Kier Connect” app and noticeboard.  A process has been put in place to make it as easy as possible for the notice board to be updated – all content is supplied and instructions given on where it can be placed.
  • “My Kier” intranet includes weekly news updates and stories and has been built to ensure content is prioritised for employees and only there if it makes their jobs easier.
  • “Kier Journal” their employee magazine published three times a year also has full presence on the app.
  • “In the know” is a monthly face to face lunch and learn session on specific company topics for all colleagues.
  • Conferences and roadshows are very effective at reaching those front-line employee across multiple locations.

Additional channels Gordon has used with previous employers:

  • “Ask the EEB” is an online opportunity for employees to ask the European Executive Board any question they would like. 
  • “Coffee time” is the opportunity to informally meet the leadership teams in an open forum. Employees are personally invited, after expressing an interest, with a surprise coffee mug and invite landing on their desk. 


Gordon is very hot on measurement. With measurement securely under his belt he is able to measure the success of a campaign by being able to benchmark against previous campaigns. Whether it’s gathering verbal feedback, analysing email and app analytics or survey results, each element of the communications strategy is carefully evaluated, tweaked and improved upon.

Engaging hearts and minds

Now the next challenge is embedding these key messages and reaching the hearts and mind of the employees at Kier. This is an area we get very excited about at theblueballroom and I am sure Gordon will rise to this challenge too!