More than half of companies worldwide use internal social media to communicate with employees, according to a Towers Watson study, and many business’ senior leaders rely on a SharePoint intranet to post blogs that keep their associates informed and engaged.

Related: Why Trust is the Key to Great Content Marketing

The “magic” of a CEO posting a blog on the corporate intranet is typically owned by the employee communications team, and this isn’t any different at Ferrellgas, the nation’s premiere propane provider, based in Overland Park, Kan.

“When we have a message to convey from our CEO or another senior leader, it has to appear perfectly. So there’s a lot of pressure when setting up blog posts for our executives, and we need the execution of it to be as easy as possible,” said Jim Saladin, Ferrellgas’ Vice President of Marketing and Communications.

Posting blogs on the CEO’s behalf should happen frequently and flawlessly to help employees feel engaged.

Posting blogs on the CEO’s behalf should happen frequently so employees feel engaged by their leaders, but it should also happen flawlessly. Internal communicators and IT partners who have this responsibility need a reliable and simple solution.

Ferrellgas turned to DEG’s Enterprise Collaboration team to find a technical solution on its new SharePoint intranet for this business requirement.

SharePoint intranet

The Ask

The Ferrellgas Communications team wanted a way to post a blog on its CEO and other executives’ behalf on its new SharePoint intranet without it being a manual or lengthy process, such as managing several pseudo accounts on SharePoint Online.

Prior to launching the new Ferrellgas intranet on SharePoint Office 365 earlier this year, only the CEO had the ability to blog on the former intranet.

SharePoint Online allows for many to be able to blog and share ideas. When other Ferrellgas leadership team members heard they could now blog like the CEO has been successfully doing for years, and on a frequent basis, many Ferrellgas executives began reaching out to the communications team about how they could start blogging updates as well.

“Once our executives discovered they could follow our CEO’s lead and blog on key initiatives for their teams or to provide context for the entire employee population while also getting real-time feedback, they started inundating my team with requests to support their communications needs,” Saladin said. “It was a great problem to have, but the sheer volume made my team quickly realize we needed a seamless way to post these messages on their behalf.”

The communications team quickly realized logging into SharePoint Online with different ghost accounts for several executives would be too cumbersome to manage over the long term, especially if many of the executives posted blogs weekly.

That’s when Ferrellgas asked DEG for a more automated solution within SharePoint to ensure various executive blog posts were published correctly for employees to see directly from the appropriate VP or president.

The Answer

DEG understood the answer had to be easy for a communications owner or a non-technical employee to post a blog on behalf of key executives without jumping through a bunch of hoops logging in, or worse yet, leaving it up to the CEO to do. So the enterprise collaboration engineers began to research various options.

The Result

SharePoint makes it easy to post and attribute multiple blogs on behalf of executives.

The blog author solution DEG determined and produced is a pre-configured, custom template for creating and publishing a new blog. This template allows another validated user other than the one creating the blog to be identified as the blog author by leveraging an out-of-the-box people-picker field. In addition to the blog content itself, the new blog template includes added fields in the roll-up views and supplementary javascript to query an alternate people/user field.

This technical solution gives the Ferrellgas team a way to post a blog on behalf of various executives while also easily being able to “pick” various executives confirmed by the employee database as the blog author. This way, the executive’s image and profile are tied correctly to the blog.

SharePoint intranet

Adding the “FG Author” field as a “people picker” allows the Ferrellgas Communications team to easily select Leaders as the blog’s author versus using various ghost accounts to keep various executive blogs running and looking good on their behalf.

This result also gives several Ferrellgas leaders the opportunity to communicate directly on the company intranet without having to do the administrative work of formatting and posting the blog, while making it stress-free for the communications team to correctly and swiftly create a blog for its leadership team without several steps or engaging the IT team every time it happens.

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