Connecting the Dots of the Employee Experience with Jill Stracko, Director of Global Executive and Internal Comms at Uber

Episode Summary

This episode features an interview with Jill Stracko, Director of Global Executive and Internal Communications at Uber. Jill’s impressive career spans from Washington D.C. all the way to Silicon Valley. Jill led President Barack Obama’s writing team in the White House and once served as Senior Legislative Correspondent to then-Senator Joe Biden. On this episode, Jill sits down with Amanda to discuss her 3 principles of Internal Communications: informing and inspiring, connecting the dots, and exclusivity. They also discuss keeping PR and internal comms aligned and their love of the Oxford Comma.

Episode Notes

This episode features an interview with Jill Stracko, Director of Global Executive and Internal Communications at Uber. Jill’s impressive career spans from Washington D.C. all the way to Silicon Valley. Jill led President Barack Obama’s writing team in the White House and once served as Senior Legislative Correspondent to then-Senator Joe Biden.

On this episode, Jill sits down with Amanda to discuss her 3 principles of Internal Communications: informing and inspiring, connecting the dots, and exclusivity. They also discuss keeping PR and internal comms aligned and their love of the Oxford Comma.


“In terms of how I just personally think about internal communications, there’s a couple of principles. The first is informing and inspiring. Making sure that employees understand what’s going on because it’s easier to do your job if you understand how decisions are being made. And then inspiring. You really want people to always be reminded of why they came to work at this company and why it's amazing. So, always trying to find those stories that remind people of that and show the innovation that’s happening around the company, the cool stuff that’s happening. The second is connecting the dots. I feel like it’s really important as internal communicators and then also helping leaders, making sure that you remind people how their day-to-day work fits into the company strategy and the priorities for the year and the company mission and values. So, that’s our responsibility. It’s leaders’ responsibility. It’s our responsibility to help leaders remind employees of that. And then the final thing is exclusivity. Our work should not just be a regurgitation of something that’s put out externally on a blog post or in a news story. Internal Communications is different and should be different from external communications. And I like to think of it as, you should get this information because you work at this company. And you’re getting the inside scoop, the behind the curtain view, the story behind the story.” – Jill Stracko


Episode Timestamps:

*(01:52): Jill’s background

*(04:12): Jill’s 3 Principles of Internal Communications

*(06:00): Segment: Story Time

*(06:26): How Jill’s team rebranded Uber’s mission statement

*(09:52): Amanda and Jill bond over the Oxford Comma

*(11:29): Segment: Getting Tactical

*(15:34): How to align internal comms with PR 

*(19:15): How Jill is keeping employees aligned during remote work

*(32:01): Segment: Asking for a Friend

*(38:57): Biggest challenge IC leaders will face in 5 years



Connect with Jill on LinkedIn


Amanda’s LinkedIn

Episode Transcription

Amanda Berry: So Jill, how are you today? 

Jill Stracko: I am great. It's Friday. It's a beautiful day.

Jill Stracko: Love it. 

Amanda Berry: Yeah. Things are good. Well, thank you so much for joining me today. Um, and our listeners, I want to start with your background. It's super impressive. You started in politics as working for then Senator Joe Biden's and then you became head of President Barack Obama's writing department. So what inspired you to get into communication?

Jill Stracko: Well, I think writing has been the thread that connected all my jobs and it wasn't super obvious to me until a couple of years ago. And someone said, you know, oh, like you've always been a writer. And like, I kind of stopped and was like, no. And then I realized that like, writing has been the thing that, um, has been consistent.

Jill Stracko: Every single job that I've had and you have to be a good writer to be a good communicator because that's the foundation for everything that we do. And so, I mean, to answer your question, like, I don't think there was ever anything that made me want to get into communications, but I enjoyed everything about it and the jobs just kind of like that path just kind of came along and.

Jill Stracko: You know, the everyone's career path is not linear. So yeah, like every job that I've had has had writing and communications in it, and every job that I will have probably will do that to, 

Amanda Berry: it 

Amanda Berry: sounds like such a difference to be from president Barack Obama's, you know, the head of his writing department to now your current role of director of global executive and internal communications at Uber.

Amanda Berry: Can you talk about what you do 

Amanda Berry: now? 

Jill Stracko: Yes. Well, and I'll say that, like, it was absolutely a transition going from government to tech, you know, going from a Blackberry to an iPhone or an Android to, um, you know, a PC to a Mac. When I was in government, we had gateway computers. Do you remember those, like the cow box?

Amanda Berry: Like I was going to say, yeah, the black and white, 

Jill Stracko: that's 

Jill Stracko: what we had. And then government. And I was like, wow, this is, um, the computer was like, so old that you thought it was going to like take off eventually.

Jill Stracko: So it was a big transition, but anyway, yeah, so it kind of like led me to my career today. So I'm responsible for communications that, and my team is responsible for communications that go to all employees at the company. Full-time employees. And we have a global team we're scrappy as as many internal communications teams are.

Jill Stracko: And yeah, we, we manage the channels and, you know, in terms of sort of how I just personally think about internal communications, there's a couple of principles. The first is informing and inspiring, making sure that employees understand what's going on because it's easier to do your job. If you understand how decisions are being made.

Jill Stracko: And then inspiring. You really want people to always be reminded of why they came to work at this company and why it's amazing. So always trying to find those stories, that remind people of that and like show the innovations that's happening around the company, the cool stuff that's happening. The second is connecting the dots.

Jill Stracko: I feel like it's really important that as internal communicators and then also leader in helping leaders. Making sure that you remind people how their day-to-day work fits into the company strategy and the priorities for the year and the company mission and values. So that's our responsibility. It's leader's responsibility, it's our responsibility to help leaders remind employees of that.

Jill Stracko: And then the final thing. Exclusivity, right? Like our work should not be just a regurgitation of something that's put out externally, like an on blog post or in a news story and, you know, internal communications. Different and should be different from external communications. And I like to think of it as, you know, our work, you should get this information because you work as this company and you're getting the inside scoop the behind the curtain, view the story behind the story.

Jill Stracko: So we always try to look for that and like, I, I always find it interesting. Like I've heard, you know, friends at other companies say that like, oh, Hey everybody, like, you know, read this story. That we put out today and it's like such a shame when that happens, because there's so much interesting work that's happening behind the scenes that you can really share with employees to make them feel like they're special and getting that, um, that behind the scenes.

Amanda Berry: I want to 

Amanda Berry: take a pause in that. So I want to come back to some of them, but I want to move into our first segment Storytime

Amanda Berry: you just 

Amanda Berry: talked about, um, connecting employees, inspiring and informing employees and, and the way to do that, do I then inspire them as connect on to our mission, to your mission? Uber's arguably one of the most recognized name in the world, so that that's an incredible feat in of itself. But Uber, you were a part of the team that helped execute and rebrand Uber's mission statement.

Amanda Berry: It's such a big company, 20 plus thousand employees. I'm curious how you've rolled that out and made sure employees were aligned to that internally. And then how you worked across stakeholder groups to make all of 

Jill Stracko: that happen. Yeah. I mean, it was absolutely a team effort and, you know, huge props to our marketing and culture and HR teams who really, you know, did so much of the work to kind of figure out what the words should be, because every word has to be really carefully chosen when there's only a couple of them together to form a mission statement.

Jill Stracko: But I know that like, you know, whenever you're working on a mission statement, you have to think about. What's gonna make this unique to your company. Like if it were, you know, your mission statement on another company. It shouldn't work. Right? Like it has to be unique to like who you are and the employees that you hire and what you're trying to do, it should be kind of that statement of like who you are and what you do in the world.

Jill Stracko: Um, and so, you know, like you have to, like, like I said, the marketing team did amazing things because it was an external and an internal moment. And we did an all hands that rolled it out. And we also rolled out our new company values at the same time. And that work was really cool because we were able to look at each of the values and think of like, what's the work that represents that value and then find people, a diverse set of people who are excellent storytellers who can then talk about like what that value is and what it means.

Jill Stracko: And some work that kind of can transcend time because you also don't want some of the work you do. On mission statements or values to be only representative of a certain time, right? Like you want it to kind of like last through the years comes down to like tactical things. Like, you know, like our marketing team and our creative team put together different zoom backgrounds and like little infographics that are like moving images that are on our like conference room screens.

Jill Stracko: And maybe. Environmental and aesthetic instead of just like something that we kind of put in the communications, it kind of has to be everywhere because if it's environmental, then. Kind of blend into your day to day and then, you know, it becomes part of your, your everyday without even knowing it. And I think that's also like a way, like, especially in the remote world and the pandemic life, the way to kind of like connect what you do to like the company that you work for is doing little things.

Jill Stracko: Like, is there a zoom background that I can use that I can like kind of show up and represent, then you look you're on a zoom meeting and everyone has a different background. That's like a different company value or the mission statement. And that just kind of makes it. 

Amanda Berry: Yeah, I keep thinking of something you said back there.

Amanda Berry: It just, it really touches on like a lot of key components of internal comms, right? Yet at an all hands new values. You've found people who do work that could represent each of those values in a diverse way. I just thought that's really key to a lot of, I mean, when I think of internal comms to keep people in that, what, why are we doing this?

Amanda Berry: And just constantly using the mission and the values to show the value of the work that everyone's doing. I think that that's so important. I would be remiss if I didn't ask this or ask you to, I want to propose this. You said, you know, we choose every word in a mission statement. That's key and that's absolutely true.

Amanda Berry: And as a writer, I know that you can probably sit down and just, you know, lament over a single word and. Um, but I also want to talk about punctuation. I know you're a big fan of the oxygen and I have very strong feelings of the Oxford comma. I love it. I love using it. I once for a, for a place that wouldn't allow us to use it.

Amanda Berry: And even to this day, when I use it, I, every time I put it in there, I just it's like for leaf it's comforting. I just, I have to ask. Cause it's, I think this is great. And you don't see many people who have such strong feelings like I do about the. Yeah. So what do you say to people who don't like the Oxford 

Jill Stracko: comma?

Jill Stracko: Well, I mean, you always have to be diplomatic when you strongly disagree with someone. So it's even tougher when you're like writing for someone and you see them take it out. But I don't know. I feel like I, I don't know. I love it. Some people feel like it's not necessary and it kind of crowds the page. I feel like it brings a lot of clarity to everything that you write and, you know, I, I.

Jill Stracko: I feel as strongly about the Oxford comma as I do about intend to 64 and thinking that it's the best version of the gaming system, the company created child of the eighties and nineties. What can I say? But yeah, no, Oxford calm is the way to go. And if you don't use it, then you're risking people misinterpreting what you've read.

Jill Stracko: So that's right. That's very 

Amanda Berry: possible. Yeah. That's coming up Nintendo 60 minutes mixed Nintendo 64. They make new ones where all the games are on them. What? My husband and I bought one. Yes. Like you can buy like, like it's just, it's a one-piece box and that's got like 30 games on it and we bought wireless control.

Amanda Berry: So we'll just like lay in bed and play it like Dr. Marsh. Oh 

Jill Stracko: my God. I might have to buy that right after this. 

Amanda Berry: Just take a look, we're going to move into our next segment called getting tactical, 

Jill Stracko: um, trying to figure out tactics and it'd be prevalent. And I didn't have to worry about tactics too much. Here I am in charge and driving to see why didn't you sleep?

Jill Stracko: Suit tactics, tactics. 

Amanda Berry: You felt internal comms functions from scratch. Can you take us through some of the key components of that when you're building, you know, building a global program from the ground up? 

Jill Stracko: Yeah. So I mean, the first thing that I think is important to do, especially if you're building something from the ground up is to run an audit.

Jill Stracko: Right. I think like, you know, you, you hear about companies doing annual culture surveys and. Equally as important, but it's also important to do focused surveys every year or every six months on what do people feel is going well with internal communications. And so I think that's like a good place to start.

Jill Stracko: Right. So it's just like a simple survey of, you know, what do you want to hear more about? Like what leaders do you want to hear more from what channels do you get most of your information and then what channels would you prefer? Your information from, and what is the, like, how would you rate the effectiveness of those channels?

Jill Stracko: I think a lot of companies, they over rely on their intranet, right. And that can be like a source of truth, but I find internets can be, I don't know, like they can be a repository and a knowledge base and they have their purpose, but you also need ways for people to interact and to have like a destination.

Jill Stracko: So like we use slack. And it's incredible. So anyway, like the audit can kind of help you understand where to focus first. So you're not boiling the ocean. And then really being able to assess like, okay, like looking at the main channels that we have and the places where we can help employees get that information, where can we improve things?

Jill Stracko: And then, so after you kind of understand the lay of the land, like what are the, what are the basics that you can really nail and get those. And then improve the basics. Right? So you like, so for example, your global all hands what's the frequency, like, does it work? Like, do people want it more often? You know, now in the pandemic, like everyone is sitting in front of their computers all day and maybe a 60 minute, all hands every week doesn't work and maybe you need to mix it up and make it less frequent and shorter or more frequent and shorter so that people aren't spending so much time, you know, among other things that they're doing all.

Jill Stracko: Another thing that I think is really important when you're starting, the function is creating, like what I like to call a Canary network. Like what's a group of people that you can rely on to give you feedback on. Communications that are going out. People who have been here for awhile and really understand the culture, people who are new and have a fresh perspective.

Jill Stracko: Leaders, managers like individual contributors, people all around the world too, because like, I mean, huge props to international teams because like, we all feel like it's so different now that everything's remote. People who are in region have been like remote all the time. Right. You're always connecting and building that culture over zoom or over Google hangout.

Jill Stracko: So, and then I think the final thing that's really important when you're building the. Especially at a company that maybe doesn't have internal comms is to make sure that you're always working with PR. And if the PR team doesn't know how to work with you, help them understand, like, you know how to build that muscle.

Jill Stracko: And, you know, like when you're putting a comms plan together, it should be a comms plan that has external and internal. That shouldn't just be a PR plan. You know, I think like the comms team at Uber has always had really excellent instincts even before I got there. And so it was, it was an easy thing to fit into, um, when I joined and, you know, it's just been a really fun ride from there.

Jill Stracko: Yeah. There's 

Amanda Berry: so much, you said that that brings tremendous. I never, I've never called it that, but I always have these people in different departments that I could go to who trusted me and I trusted them and they would give it to me straight. I mean, they liked it. They didn't like it. Any real feelings they had, they, they would always feel confronting.

Amanda Berry: That's such a valuable. Um, let me ask you about that PR team connection. We often talk about the importance of working in a, you mentioned HR on your culture team. I would argue, you know, D and I is, you've got a DNI team, you know, culture too. That really needs to be another business partner on internal comms.

Amanda Berry: So, yeah, I sees another good one, but here, sometimes I know that from my own experience and from hearing, even just talking to other people in the industry that sometimes PR can just sort of forget that you're there and not make a priority to work with internal comms. Do you have any suggestions on how to overcome that or how to work with.

Jill Stracko: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think like if you're new or if that's happening at your company, I think, you know, one thing that I think is really useful is to do like an internal comms road show where you help them understand what your team does. Even like putting a little presentation together and doing like going around to the different PR teams or the different regional teams and help them understand what your team does, the different channels that you can control examples of where.

Jill Stracko: Internal and external have worked together really well and like how that improved everything. So like, for example, if there is a, well, there's a couple of examples where I think you can kind of showcase how things work really well. So the first is like, if you're having. An external launch or an external announcement, being able to time something internally before the external announcement goes out.

Jill Stracko: And that gets goes back to that exclusivity thing where you're kind of giving people a preview or a sneak peek of what's coming. And that it's a virtuous cycle because then like the work that you're doing is getting the teams that the PR teams are working with excited, which is going to help that relationship.

Jill Stracko: So it's mutually beneficial. So that's the first. The second thing is, you know, the PR teams are always working with spokespeople, right? And internal communications can be a channel through which you're building a pipeline of spokespeople. Right? So like if it's a global all hands or people that you're teeing up to be presenters, that presentation training that people are getting internally with.

Jill Stracko: Benefit them when they're externally becoming spokespeople. And yes, there's absolutely meeting media training, which is great for them too. But, you know, understanding how to give like a really tight, crisp presentation internally to the company or to a team will pay off in spades externally as well. So like, I feel like there's so much that we can do, especially now that, you know, fortunately that everyone is focused on diversity.

Jill Stracko: Around the world in getting spokespeople out there and particularly in tech, we can help with that. So I think like having that kind of road show where you're giving examples of how you work together is really helpful. And then like, I think always like making it specific, right? Like you should come to us when you think people are going to it, it might surprise people internally, or you think there will be a lot of questions and, you know, showing how the different teams can work together is always something that will help make it real for them.

Amanda Berry: Yeah. You know, thinking about how we're working together, I'm very interested because you know, you've been at Uber for a while. You've worked at Google works in the white house. We we've sort of stopped was that, but just very curious if I know anything about pre pandemic to where we are now and just trying to keep employees aligned and engaged in the digital.

Amanda Berry: You know, you know, you might be in a meeting with someone and you hear their dogs barking, or Monday something earlier this week, my electricity went off. I didn't, I couldn't log in. I mean, it's just a part of this more digital experience, this human experience that now we're all involved in, but it's wildly different when we used to go to work.

Amanda Berry: And you had everyone sort of undivided attention, and now you're competing with children at home or. Pets or, you know, whatever it is. And I'm one of you just have any thoughts on how you've been successful in keeping employees aligned and engaged in this new digital, remote experience. I mean, it gets it rephrase us.

Amanda Berry: It's not new, but it's new for a lot of people. It's 

Jill Stracko: new for a lot of people. Obviously there have been a lot of hardships that have come from the pandemic and I think, you know, internal communications is. One of the good things, I guess that came out of the pandemic is internal comms is not mainstream.

Jill Stracko: When I started in internal communications. I mean, when I, when I came from politics and, and moved into tech, I didn't know what it was. I knew it was working with executives and, you know, I had that experience, but I didn't know what internal comms was. I didn't know what project management was, which is a lot of what we do.

Jill Stracko: And, you know, comms teams at a company used to mean PR. And now, you know, you see job openings for internal communication. At so many companies and that's amazing. So where it used to be this niche specialty, and, you know, people were thinking, okay, like what do I do next? And like, I don't know if I can be an internal comms forever.

Jill Stracko: Now you can, like, now you can really make a career out of internal comms. And that's incredible. So that's the first thing. The second thing is. I feel like we are now experiencing the biggest shift in work since I don't know the industrial revolution, or I dunno if it goes back that far, but I mean, I feel like people in internal communications and HR in particular are on the front lines.

Jill Stracko: And whereas, you know, and you see this in the headlines, right? Like you have different CEOs coming out on different sides of like on all, all places on the spectrum of like, oh, we need people in work and you know, they're going to come back like right away. And then other people are like, okay, like our company is transitioning to be fully remote or you have the option for that and everything in between.

Jill Stracko: So I think there's a huge opportunity to not only improve what internal communications meet. But it's also an opportunity to really play, throw out the playbook, right? Like, and start from scratch again. Not everything can or should be solved by a one hour all hands. Right? Like in a world now where catching up with a friend still feels like a meeting you really need to think differently about, okay.

Jill Stracko: Like how can I mix things up? And, you know, yes. Like a one hour, all hands is great when you have people in an office together and, you know, To your point, like have undivided attention, but now, you know, people are sitting on their computers like eight hours a day and home is work and work is home. So I think that there's an opportunity to really mix things up.

Jill Stracko: So for example, you know, instead of doing like a one hour all hands every week, Could you just, you know, make it 15 minutes every week or, you know, 30 minutes where maybe you, I know a friend of mine at one company, they have an all-hands every week, but every other week is only content and every other week is only Q and a, and it's 30 minutes, you know, and that's it.

Jill Stracko: And then you're out the door and, you know, onto the next thing, which I think is really interesting. There's another, you know, other ways that you can engage people on slack, right? Instead of sending an email, can you make certain things like that, your really important strategic stuff go over email and then other stuff that's maybe relevant, but not necessarily like, as, as urgent and put that in slack or can you get your leaders instead of like waiting for an all hands and waiting for the next all hands, like in the next week or so?

Jill Stracko: Can you just have. Record a five minute video about their reactions to something or a question that they're getting and send it out as like a little bite size nugget that people can listen to, or even things like, you know, podcasting, right? Like, can you, instead of like sending out only the video. Can you send out the video and the audio so that people can listen to it, like on a walk outside.

Jill Stracko: So I feel like, you know, I think it's always, it's always interesting when you go through a shift in an industry like this, but I also think it forces us to be more creative and to think differently about your work and forced change, where it might not have been before. And I also think that like, you know, part of the challenge is really.

Jill Stracko: Working with executives who are used to operating in a certain way, too, but like being able to show them the benefit of doing things differently and showing how maybe engagement is higher, instead of people just like having to wait for an all hands is always a benefit to I, when I, 

Amanda Berry: you know, you sort of, you know, we have to throw out the playbook I did to me, this is, I mean, you know, pandemic aside, this is one of the most incredible.

Amanda Berry: Interesting things to watch, you know, being an internal comms. And it sounds like you feel the same way that we have to sort of change the entire paradigm of what we do. So when you throw out the playbook and you got to really think about what's going to be the best for employees, you know, Say, well, we used to, we used to just bring everyone and do it this way.

Amanda Berry: So now we'll just do it the same way over zoom. It's exactly what you said. You have to really rethink about how what's what's the best from fleas, because you said sitting down with your friends feels like a meeting. Cause you're on zoom all the time. We're on video all the time, you know? My friends want to meet over zoom.

Amanda Berry: I'm I say, I can't, I've been on zoom for 40, 40 hours a week. And you just think about things at work differently. So I think that that's such a great call out. I just want to get 

Jill Stracko: that out there. Yeah. One thing that I did, I mean, it was like sort of a pandemic purchase. Like a lot of people have done. I already had a Peloton bike, but I got a Peloton treadmill and I got one of those trays that you can like have your laptop on.

Jill Stracko: So like, if I'm watching an all hands or in a meeting where I'm listening and not necessarily participating, I'm watching. And getting some movement, but I like, if I have to like jump off and like, you know, do something or like make a call or, you know, I can't walk when I'm like typing Contently. I like move over to my desk.

Jill Stracko: But, you know, I encourage like, you know, everybody, not just the internal communicators, so like figure out ways that you can move throughout the day and like, keep yourself saying. 

Amanda Berry: That's funny. I was looking for something like that. I was, I was actually on Amazon looking at like different kinds of like stair machines or lifted KOLs where you could put a computer.

Amanda Berry: So even if you aren't a meeting yeah. Like you said, you can just mute and listen and, and be there. Yeah. Also like the, that the, the one, the. 

Jill Stracko: Yeah, I'll send you, um, I'll send you a couple links of like things that I recommend, because I actually had one, it was like a treadmill desk. And then I ended up transitioning to the Peloton where it just put a tray over top.

Jill Stracko: So I will give you my recommendation. 

Amanda Berry: Okay. Okay. I would appreciate that. I think the key takeaway is, you know, being at home, you've got to take care of 

Jill Stracko: yourself. Yeah. Absolutely. 

Amanda Berry: Yeah. You know, not, not leaving the house and finding ways to take the number of the mouse and finding ways to stay mentally and physically healthy.

Jill Stracko: Yes. I feel like sometimes I feel like Gollum from like Lord of the rings. I'm like, I haven't been outside in like three days, 

Amanda Berry: like showered in two weeks. 

Jill Stracko: I haven't seen daylight. So I dunno. I feel like it, you have to do that for your own sanity. 

Amanda Berry: You do? I, I feel like we all went through similar stages of the pandemic.

Amanda Berry: It was very much grief. And now we're all sort of in an acceptance, I guess, a big chunk of us. 

Jill Stracko: Like, I mean, getting back to your earlier point, like we're now like, um, normal is not like getting back to normal is. Really what we used to think of as normal. Right. And so normal was like going into the office five days a week.

Jill Stracko: Then the new normal was being remote all the time and dealing with a global pandemic. And now we're in this like new. New new normal, I guess, for like we're transitioning into like hybrid work. And, you know, like now that we're dealing with the pandemic becoming an endemic and you know now, but I think like to our earlier discussion, right?

Jill Stracko: Like we're, we're in this transition of, okay, now we have to like really think in ways people at a headquarters office. You know, you had the luxury of having people in the office and like in person maybe, but international teams like kudos to them. Like, like I said earlier, like they have always had to think virtual.

Jill Stracko: And how do you, how do you build culture? Like internationally across, across boundaries? And so now I feel like everyone who's in an HQ is. In that same boat and they're thinking about, and they have to think about that too. So I don't know. I think that like looking at the glass half full side of things, like it's making us better at our job and having us think about employee engagement in new ways.

Jill Stracko: And you know, now. People who might've only been, you know, a bit myopic and thinking about the experience in the office now they're thinking about, okay, how can we be more creative and think about how we can engage people like over zoom and virtually, and thinking about that experience in a more holistic way.

Jill Stracko: So I don't know. I try to think about it in a creative, like a positive. 

Amanda Berry: No, I love that. Have you thought about, and I don't know if you're back in the office much or, you know, if Uber employees are back in that you can go to the headquarter office, but have you thought about like what that experience is going to be like?

Amanda Berry: So we're talking about people who can come into the office can see the CEO can participate live. There's an energy to that. There can be an excitement that generate and then, and then you're gonna have people who will never really be able to do that. So, you know, when I worked at a company where. 97% of the employees were at headquarters and 3%.

Amanda Berry: Well, we would just book a, like a, like a WebEx meeting and they can, they can sort of listen, but their experience wasn't great. That don't play experience. Wasn't great at all. But now we have the almost so we could have a 50 50 split and what that's going to be like for, let's say we keep talking to all hands.

Amanda Berry: So I'd want to come back to that. When you, when you design all hands, what that, what's that gonna look like when you have people in the office for, let's say for like a kickoff versus you have people sitting at home who can't really be there. Have you thought much about that? Begin to have creatively work 

Jill Stracko: on that.

Jill Stracko: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think there's, yeah, there, there are so many, yeah, there there's a lot of angles to that. And especially when you work at a global company, you tend to hear feedback of like, oh, this feels very like HQ centric and it, you know, oh, I didn't see any international people like presenting, which is totally fair.

Jill Stracko: So I think you, like, in general, you have to think of. When you're sending something out globally, is it globally relevant or applicable? Like if you're launching something in the U S but it's going to go international soon, that's globally applicable because people should see what's coming down the pike and they want to feel connected to like some of the big stuff that's happening, but you know, if that's not the case and it's maybe.

Jill Stracko: Local, then you have to think about audiences and maybe, and that's where I think like our judgment can come into play where you can think about like, how do I, you know, how can I target an audience of like people who need to know, and then maybe like, you know, a select few leaders who should know about this so that they can, you know, be aware of it.

Jill Stracko: If they're, if they have a global team that's like in a certain market. Um, but I also think that, you know, like we always think about Persian in that entire. Content segment was a leader in a different office around the world. So we, we specifically picked people where, and again, at the time, like people were in the office with that leader, but we were very thoughtful about like, where can we get people around the world so that people in big offices or even small offices can feel like they're part of it.

Jill Stracko: But then I also think that, you know, like, I think it's. To think about engagement in different ways too. So, you know, for example, like on zoom, you have this option where even if it's not having people unmute and ask questions, you can enable zoom chat and you can have leaders react to things that people are popping up or questions that are coming up.

Jill Stracko: Someone on my team had an amazing idea the other or the other day. And this is kind of like an example of throwing out the playbook and thinking about all hands differently. They're like, you know, after a while I think. You know, internal communicators have to think about how can we present strategy and content in a way that doesn't feel rote, because if you do it the same way all the time.

Jill Stracko: Not only do employees get tired of it, but you get tired of it too. So the person on my team was like, look, you know, what? If we had five different topics, we didn't prepare any presentations, but we told employees that there were going to be five different topics and everyone starts out in the same zoom.

Jill Stracko: And then you can pick, you can go into breakouts, which is a feature that you can do, but you go into breakouts with a different. Who's going to talk about that topic and maybe like share some thoughts off the top of their head, but then it can be a discussion and people can ask questions and you, you know, you can like engage with employees in different ways, but then, you know, we've recorded each of those breakouts and then make those breakouts recordings available to everybody.

Jill Stracko: So you can go back and see like what you might've missed if you picked one breakout over another. So I don't know, like, I think that's something worth trying and it's just an example of like ways that you can engage employees differently and not just like, you know, conventional. Yeah, no, that's a great 

Amanda Berry: example.

Amanda Berry: I might, I might not. That's a really great example of just really thinking about it differently, really, honestly. Thank you for sharing that. Totally. I want to move into our last segment, asking for a friend, a friend,

Jill Stracko: asking for a friend

Amanda Berry: What advice do you, again, you have an amazing career. So what advice would you give someone who's just starting out in internal comms? So 

Jill Stracko: the best piece of advice that I ever got in my career was from, I was like going on a walking one-on-one with someone. And this is when I was at Google. And he's like, you've only been here for like two months.

Jill Stracko: And he had been here there for like six years and he was like, my best piece of advice is to stay flexible and have a sense of humor. And I feel like that's so true. I mean, it's true for everybody, but especially for internal communicators where like things can change on a dime and you have to pivot and you have to be comfortable with ambiguity and figure out how to make progress.

Jill Stracko: So, um, and also just not taking things too serious. Where, you know, if something changes radically, you can't get totally thrown off with that, by that you have to kind of be flexible and, and not, you know, just kind of like laugh it off. If something happens. Another thing is internal comms is so much about helping people find a sense of purpose in the.

Jill Stracko: And I think that's like, I mean, this is like me as a millennial, what some might call a geriatric millennials and EV I mean, if it's true for everybody, like you really want to feel a sense of purpose in your work. So being able to understand what motivates people and, you know, being able to talk to different employees and understand why did you come here?

Jill Stracko: What's interesting. Why do you love working here? And being able to show that through stories is so important. Understanding what motivates people. And that can also help you in your work with executives too. And then finally, you know, you and I were talking earlier about sort of different executives, having different styles in terms of how they like might edit something that you write or put in front of them.

Jill Stracko: But I think it's important to also take pride in your work. But not take things personally, if things change radically or someone blows it up. I mean, I feel like everyone in internal comms is an artist in a way in that they, you know, they really take pride in what they write, but I always tell and give the advice to people too.

Jill Stracko: Don't take things too personally. Like if someone like. Destroys your writing, because like it'll make you better and you understand why they're making the changes. So I feel like I became, uh, I've become less precious about my work over time, which is something I recommend to others too. 

Amanda Berry: Yeah. Those are great pieces of advice.

Amanda Berry: The sense of humor is, is a very critical, uh, you gotta be able to laugh through most days, honestly, and then the not taking that personally. And it's, it can be hard, right? To let stuff roll. And not take it personally, but that's honestly one of the best skills and internal comms person can have 

Jill Stracko: hands down.

Jill Stracko: Totally. And I also think that like, I mean, not taking yourself too seriously in the work you do. And, and, um, and I think that that can translate into like, you know, I feel like everyone has seemed like seeing the same old slide decks and, you know, and in all hands, but like what if instead of like, you know, a slide that has like a million words on it, what if you can just make the point by using a good.

Jill Stracko: Or Jeff, I know that there's this controversy over how that's pronounced. Um, but you know, like just like finding ways to like represent information and make a point and not just using the same, like stock photo images, but doing it in a way that also doesn't make you seem like dated. If you use the use something incorrectly, you have to be, you have to understand how, how.

Amanda Berry: That to be current on with extensor into the days. Absolutely. I think another components that I would throw that just it's inspiring. Why, what you said is helping leaders recognize the good work. People are doing that such a key component. So as we can lose sight of that, you know, we often know what's going on across the board and having, having that yet ears hoards, we need to recognize or provide more employee recognition is so critical.

Jill Stracko: Absolutely. And I think like, you know, to that, I think one piece of guidance that I always give leaders is don't underestimate. How much people value your perspective and what you do every day. Right? Like you can kind of think that you're, you know, your like leaders are steeped in strategy and they're in decision-making, but employees don't always have access to that.

Jill Stracko: So figuring out ways to kind of like open the door to what might normally be a closed door meeting or having an executive, even just like sharing. What the meetings they were in, or like what they're talking, who they're talking to and what, like what stood out to them in certain meetings, or even thinking about, you know, Having every leader on a leadership team send an email to someone who did a great job that week, you know, or like someone who did an awesome presentation and meeting like that can really amplify how someone feels about their work.

Jill Stracko: And then, you know, good news spreads fast. So that can be a way that we can help leaders just like small things, like low hanging fruit. I was doing 

Amanda Berry: some reading on recognition even probably recently. And I know when I used to work for a leader and he would move his leadership team, they would talk about the good work and cute humans doing them out of each of the departments.

Amanda Berry: And then they would, they would message each other. Hey, I heard you did this. That impacts my, and I'm so, you know, thanks so thankful you did that. So that as department at cross-functional recognition is 

Jill Stracko: super important. Totally. Sometimes you can like, you know, think about internal. That's kind of like a marketing campaign or like advertising.

Jill Stracko: Cause you have to think about audiences. And so for example, like, you know, people will often message your CEO or your leader and say, Hey, can you come to this like team all hands? Or can you like pop into this meeting for 15 minutes? And usually like, you know, we're helping those executives and we're thinking about it in a reactive way, but can you think about it in a proactive way?

Jill Stracko: Right? Like, so can you look at like the landscape of all the teams across the company and figure out who hasn't the CEO or who hasn't that leader. Spoken to yet this year, like, can you have them make like, have a touch point, like, you know, every six months or every once a year, at least like with different teams.

Jill Stracko: And then instead of, um, only hearing from the CEO or your leader in like a global all-hands setting where it's just like, uh, you know, tons of people. Can you give that focus attention? So the leader can talk to that team about how they are doing and the impact that they're having. Like that can be, that can have such a huge impact.

Jill Stracko: And like, to your point about recognition, that's easy stuff. It's just like, you know, like a meeting that we can send someone into and have them recognize. And that, that can go such a long time. Yeah, 

Amanda Berry: absolutely. It doesn't take a lot of research on how to do it. Like it's, it's already baked in, you know, we know how to recognize employees and helping leaders push them toward that is like you said, it's super easy and the impact is huge.

Amanda Berry: Absolutely. So let me ask you this. We've seen the past two years and how that's just changed internal communications, you know, the good, the bad and the ugly of it. What do you think is like one of the biggest challenges we can expect over the next five years? An internal comm. 

Jill Stracko: I mean, I think engagement is one piece, especially as we think about like the hybrid world, I think employee engagement is going to be one.

Jill Stracko: So really figuring out like, how can you make sure employees still feel connected, not just to the company and the leaders, but to each other. So, and that then gets into kind of what we were talking about earlier, which is like, thinking about doing our jobs in different. Right. I think like in many ways, like the last couple of years have been a gift.

Jill Stracko: And I think if any year kind of proved the need for internal comms, it was 20, 20, and then 2021. But I think like, you know, we're going to have to constantly think about how can we do our job. Differently and creatively, how can we learn from other teams? Like what Quinn, what can we learn from like from marketing folks and creative folks and, and how can we bring in best practices from our colleagues in other departments and apply them to what we do.

Jill Stracko: So I think, I think those are the main two things and just, you know, always thinking about how you can, how internal comms can be a differentiator. And how your company operates and the value that companies there, that the employees see in what they do every day. So I think we have a huge role to play, like more so than a lot of other, a lot of other functions, which is really cool.

Jill Stracko: It's a good place to be. Well, let me, let me 

Amanda Berry: ask you this. You have a great. You know, there there's always room for him for event everyone's constantly getting better at our jobs. What does that look like 

Jill Stracko: for you? Yes, I, so there are two things that I always try to do. The first is something that actually a former speech writer told me once, which is, cause I was thinking about it.

Jill Stracko: Like, how can I, how can I improve my writing? Um, because I felt like I was kind of like just falling into a rut. Okay. He said the best way to improve your writing is to read other people's writing. I think like something that people tend to think about is, or default to is like taking like a creative writing class and that might help for some people, but I feel like that kind of like, and it will help you get into a different mindset.

Jill Stracko: But, um, personally, I look to long dot. Which is this amazing site, which is like an aggregator of different articles, like long form articles from like vanity fair or rolling stone or the Atlantic. And it gives you like the title, the author, how long it'll take you to read. And then a summary of. The article is about, and it's such a treasure trove of other people's writing.

Jill Stracko: And so I feel like I've gotten better just by reading other people's great writing. Um, so that's the first thing. The second thing is, you know, especially like during the pandemic. I started to tap into people who are doing internal comms at other companies. So like, especially when things were changing so fast and everyone was kind of figuring it out, we would meet like on a monthly basis and just say, Hey, like, how are things going at your company?

Jill Stracko: Like, what are you doing differently? Or, you know, like to your question earlier, like what are you doing to engage employees differently and having that network of professionals and, and growing your own personal network. Cause I also feel like. It's kind of hard to do that. Like it, or it was a couple years ago with internal communicators.

Jill Stracko: Like there wasn't that much of a network. Um, but now I'm fortunate that I know people at a lot of different companies and kind of go to them and bounce ideas off. So that would be the second thing, which is just trying to create a network of people who do work, that you do at other companies and, and seeing if what they do would work for you too.

Amanda Berry: Awesome. That's great. I'm going to look at that long form. I felt, I felt that way, you know, when reading books, because you begin to see. Everything from, um, punctuation, syntax. And I think you're, it's, it's like exercise where you get that muscle memory where your brain just starts to really pick up on it.

Amanda Berry: So I'm actually going to look at that 

Jill Stracko: website and it's also nice because like, I feel like those articles are something that you can sink your teeth into versus like something that you just get on, like CNN or New York times where it's just like a two minute read or 32nd read. Like these are like 20 minute 15.

Jill Stracko: Articles that tell a story and take you on a journey. And it's just, it's incredible. So it's yeah, definitely check it out. It's a great way to kind of like experience a lot of different genres and topics and, you know, in a way that can kind of like, you can read it before bed or during lunch or. 

Amanda Berry: I, well, Joe, this has been so much fun.

Amanda Berry: It's been such a pleasure talking to you and getting to know you and hearing about your career and getting some advice from you before I let you go today. Is there anything you'd like to mention that we didn't cover? 

Jill Stracko: How would you say that, you know, for, for all the internal communicators out there, hang in there.

Jill Stracko: I know it's like, our work is always challenging and, um, I feel like sometimes, like, you know, internal communicators can be like unsung heroes where like we're doing so much work all the time. Um, and so, you know, like internal comms is so valued at. And like, I love the leaders that we work with, but just hang in there and, you know, keep up the great work and just keep talking to other people and, and getting better every 

Amanda Berry: day.

Amanda Berry: Right. Well, thank you for joining me. This has been great. Yeah. 

Jill Stracko: Likewise. Thank you.