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How do you transform corporate communications? Insider look at 3M’s experience at Feb. 23 workshop

Tuesday, February 6, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Maureen Schriner
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By Brooke Eshleman


To get an insider look at the case study Heather Cmiel and Jen Deets will present at the Feb. 23 workshop, Expanding Your Role Beyond Communications Counsel, I interviewed both about their work with 3M. They were able to help transform the strategy behind the communications role from “pretty” to “meaningful,” taking a long-term view of the department and its content.


Q: How has communications at 3M changed?

A:  Cmiel described how communications was largely transactional in her division, 3M Critical and Chronic Care Solutions. They did the tasks assigned without questioning the meaning of the work or whether it was the appropriate tactic for the situation. Now there is a strategy behind the content.


Deets said they worked to understand how marketing is thinking about problems and solutions. The division can use that reasoning and find out how to change mindsets regarding products and services with good messaging.


Q: What did you learn while going through the transformation process?

A:  Cmiel talked about the importance of paying attention to the industry and using its actions as examples - focusing on what messaging and tactics have connected with audiences. Beyond that, she has learned to pay attention to the end user and keep them in mind when crafting messages.


Q: What distinguishes “prettiness” from good design and meaningful communication?

A:  People are visual-driven, said Cmiel, and it is important to showcase the problem an organization is able to solve. That end goal should be kept in mind throughout the communications process. People will not read something they perceive to be lengthy, so Cmiel suggests taking a movie trailer approach: keeping the messaging short and exciting while telling a story.


Q: How have you grown your leadership skills throughout your career?

A: Deets pointed to her strong relationships within the 3M team, including Cmiel, over the past two years. Both Cmiel and Deets have had agency and corporate PR experience, which helps in coordinating the work on both sides.


Cmiel also focused on her growth of teamwork skills over the years. For example, she has become a better listener – not someone who just pushes ideas through. This is an important skill in an industry where client and end-user satisfaction should remain a priority. Along with that, Cmiel believes in giving options and prompting ideas instead of saying “no” outright. This empowers teams to think creatively and work toward progress like that within her own division.


The case study Cmiel and Deets will present discusses the principles of good design and meaningful messaging to tell an inspiring story about transformation.  


Brooke Eshleman, Minnesota PRSA communications intern, is co--president of the U of M PRSSA chapter 

Minnesota PRSA
5353 Wayzata Blvd, Suite 350
Minneapolis MN 55416
Phone: 952-564-3046
Fax: 952-252.8096

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