Communications moves up to the Covid-19 front

Andrew O'Shaughnessy, CEO, Poppulo

Poppulo helps ensure first casualty of war on virus isn’t truth


Irish technology company Poppulo is supporting critical communications for frontline workers in the battle against Covid-19.

The company, which is a global leader in employee communications technology, has opened up its secure, effective communications platform to healthcare crisis teams battling the pandemic – for free.

It is already assisting public health services such as Ireland’s Health Services Executive (HSE), having fast-tracked the set-up process so that its Covid crisis team can get up and running on the platform as quickly as possible.

Effective employee communications are Poppulo’s stock in trade.  It manages secure communications between over 25 million employees, in over 900 companies, across more than 100 countries, every day.

Its clients are some of the world’s most successful organisations. These include pharmaceutical company GSK (GlaxoSmithKline), car maker Rolls Royce, fast moving consumer goods company Unilever, telecoms giant Telefónica and building systems specialist Johnson Controls.

The Cork, Ireland based company has its US headquarters in Boston, MA. It specialises in enabling organisations with more than 1000 employees to solve the kind of complex employee communication and engagement challenges that can arise in large, international workforces.

Its custom-built software is designed for internal communications only, enabling managers to plan, target, publish and measure the impact of their communications across multiple digital channels.

These include email, mobile, video and social networks, all of which are handled securely via the Poppulo platform. It also provides organisations with extensive analytics, enabling them to measure and assess employee sentiment.


Staff under pressure

In recent weeks, communications relating to the COVID-19 crisis have soared on the platform.

“The key thing for organisations is to understand how important good communications is to all employees,” says Poppulo founder and CEO Andrew O’Shaughnessy

Frontline workers are shouldering the heaviest burden right now but all employees are facing challenges in a changed world, especially remote workers.

“Everyone is under a lot of pressure. This is something that was forced on all of us really quickly and all of a sudden many employees found themselves at home,” he says.

Equally suddenly, organisations must find ways to replace all the invaluable interactions that usually take place in the workplace.

“With remote workers, you can’t just pick up the phone and ring people because they are in virtual meetings, and their calendars are crowded,” says O’Shaughnessy.


Single source of truth

Yet good internal communications are more essential than ever. “Employees are under pressure not just from their job but from feelings of isolation, overwhelm, and mental health issues. At a time like this, your employee base needs huge support,” he says.

Clear, secure and engaging communication is one of the most effective ways you have to support staff them.

“Right now there is a lot of disinformation about, and things are changing very quickly, on a daily basis. It is therefore really important for every company to establish itself as a single source of truth for employees,” says O’Shaughnessy

In “just a couple of weeks” organisations, both private and public, have undergone the kind of transformation project that would previously have been given 18 months to plan and execute, he points out.

Such a radical transformation can only succeed on the basis of having an effective communications strategy, both in terms of content and delivery.

That means avoiding the kind of disinformation that may come via public social media platforms, such as WhatsApp. These “can’t be locked down, are crowded with noise, don’t allow you to target individual people, and offer no visibility of who is reading them,” he says.


Tracking talk

Poppulo allows organisations to rapidly send urgent communications to whoever needs to get them, track what’s been read or not opened in real-time, and take corrective action through resends, updates and instructions.

Poppulo’s Blackout functionality kills the circulation of non-essential information by ensuring employees only get relevant and useful information, during specific times, increasing clarity while minimising over-communication. Its targeting capability lets users engage the people, sections, and geographies who need the information, without needlessly involving those who don’t.

Its survey functionality allows users understand how their communications are resonating, both in business units and across the organisation, with reports that can inform further actions. The platform also provides content templates which allow users to save valuable time, for greater speed, efficiency and sign off.


Trusted source

Crucially, it alleviates employee uncertainty in a time of crisis through personalised communications from trusted sources.

Poppulo’s secure communications platform works across a range of channels including email, mobile and video and right now video is proving hugely important as a way of helping remote workers cope with isolation, he says.

In any change management scenario organisations appreciate that good communications are the key to success. In a pandemic, they can be no less than the difference between life and death. It’s why communications has moved not just centre stage but up to the front.

“People are calling communications a critical business system. That has never happened before,” he says.

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