Emily York of Beam Suntory is the 2020 Measurement Maven of the Year

Emily York, Senior Director Corporate Communications, Beam Suntory

Congratulations to Emily York, Senior Director of Corporate Communications at Beam Suntory, our 2020 Measurement Maven of the Year. Attendees at Paine Publishing’s recent 2020 Summit on the Future of Measurement had the great good fortune to hear firsthand how her amazing communications team (featuring Christine Newton, Senior Manager, Corporate Internal and Social Responsibility Communications) managed to navigate the tumultuous times that have been 2020 — so far.

(In the interest of transparency, note that I worked with Christine Newton when she was with her former company. She was already a measurement maven there. At Beam Suntory she has clearly found the right place to put her talents to work.)

Facing many challenges

Imagine having to suddenly work from home, communicate to a diverse worldwide workforce of 4,800 people (many of whom were considered essential workers), deal with all the abnormal supply chain issues that all manufacturers faced this year, and at the same time launch a new line of business for a community give-back program. These are the challenges Emily and her team have overcome.

Their first step was to ramp up the frequency and amount of employee communications. Quarterly town halls went monthly, monthly communications went weekly. Communications to employees included information about safety protocols, enhanced benefits, and wellness support to help employees stay safe mentally as well as physically.

Measurement-driven programs

Just managing the communications around all those internal and external issues would be impressive, but the fact that they measured results along the way made it even more so.

They created lots of opportunities for employees to create their own content — photos, posts, and videos — that could be shared with their colleagues. And create and share they did. They measured employee engagement through the degree to which that content was shared, and all that engagement went into their metrics.

They also measured attendance at the virtual Town Hall meetings, and they listened intently via the Pigeonhole app. Their CEO played a major role, and engagement with leadership communications was measured as well. For their global newsletter, they kept a close eye on both open rates and click-through rates.

CSR and social unrest

Corporate social responsibility was a key element in both external and internal communications. Beam Suntory launched an entirely new line of hand sanitizer, and donated 40,000 gallons of it to medical workers. They extended their matching contribution program globally, expanded volunteer time off, and provided additional support to bar and industry workers by providing meals to out-of-work staff.

All of this led to major growth in followers and engagement on social channels, which made it easier to pivot when social unrest broke out in June.

Emily’s team was very vocal in support of Black Lives Matter, condemning racial injustice and racism in all forms. They pushed the message that the firm stands with its “Black employees, partners, customers, communities, and all who are frustrated that progress isn’t coming fast enough.”

It also pushed back on its own industry, rejecting the World Whiskey of the Year prize to protest the blatant sexism of the award’s creator.

So how were employees feeling about all this communicating? Emily’s team conducted a pulse survey and found that by far the majority of employees felt:

  • supported by the company,
  • connected to colleagues,
  • that they had enough info, and
  • that they knew what to focus on.

That’s worth an award right there!

For all these extraordinary efforts in challenging times, we recognize Emily York and her team with our Measurement Maven of the Year award. Congrats! ∞

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