Casey Macioge, ELLWOOD
Building The Internal Comms Function From the Ground Up
Senior Communications Specialist
Set realistic expectations about what everybody can manage and what they can do, because we’re all busy. We’re all wearing several hats. Just don’t beat yourself up about it. Definitely follow through, but temper your expectations.
Get to know Casey
How did you get started in communication?
I’ve had a very varied career, but communications has always been a key part of it. Going back like 20 plus years, I’ve done things like real estate sales and marketing and advertising sales. I’ve done public relations. And I was a late bloomer. Because I had success in sales, I kept pushing education off. But I got myself to a point where I capped out at what I could do without those credentials, so I got really serious in my thirties, where it was like, “Okay, I gotta finish.” I finished at Penn State with degrees in Journalism and Political Science, and then went right into a Master’s program in Political Management at George Washington University.
I was living in Pittsburgh at the time and was just getting into the relationship that is now my marriage. And we decided that we were going to move back to the area I grew up in, which is near Youngstown, Ohio. And I was looking for the perfect communications job for myself. When I found this opportunity with ELLWOOD, it just spoke to me in such a deep way. All of the needs that they were looking for in this role were things that I wanted to do.
How have you been able to shape the communications function at ELLWOOD?
ELLWOOD had never had anybody in a role like this. The company has been around for 112 plus years, but they’ve never had much of an external presence. And so it was nice for me to get to come into that kind of environment because I could bring my ideas and there weren’t preconceived notions of what it should be. There was just an opportunity to talk about what it could be.
So, I came in and was able to get our social media presence under control. I was able to participate in the process of launching a new website to go along with our new branding. And it quickly became very apparent that we needed to shift and do more video communication. They’re used to getting their information through short videos, memes, and animated gifs. But that wasn’t necessarily my skill set. But Ellwood is really big on education and growing in your role and had no problem giving me not only the time, but the resources to further my development of my videography and things like animation and Photoshop. And I was able to really build a new skill set, which was really cool for me because I do love learning and I love using my creativity to make new things.
So, I’ve just continued to keep challenging myself. And my boss has that kind of mindset too, where she wants me to challenge myself. I’m now a senior communication specialist, and I am really a one-man band. I am the communications department. So, it’s been really cool to have that opportunity to carve out what this role should be for the company. And that’s kind of where theEMPLOYEEapp came into it. I’ve been wanting to do something like this since I started, and it has become my primary focus for the last seven months.
You are a master of crafting communications campaigns. Tell us about a few that you’re really proud of.
“What do you do all day?”
We got some good feedback in an employee survey where our employees said they wanted to see more of themselves. They didn’t only want these generalized messages from the top. So, we’ve taken that information and we’re starting to build more content from the perspective of hourly employees or frontline employees. I have gone to a couple of the business units to interview employees on the floor and do a day in the life segment. It’s a series that I created for us called “what do you do all day?” It’s just a one-minute video where I sit down with an employee, and I ask them to give me a quick day in the life of what they do. And then I support that with some B-Roll footage of them doing the different things that they say.
And this was actually inspired by my stepson, Keagen, because for the first two or three years that I was in his life, it was like the same question every time. He was like, “Casey, what do you do all day?” That has always rung in my head.
And it’s been great because we have all these different business units, where each unit has a very important role in the various stages of product development. And, you know, the employee that is over here making an ingot mold has no idea that that mold is designed for a specific type of steel ingot, for a specific grade of steel that’s eventually going to end up as a critical piece for the aerospace industry. So, these employee stories help everyone to see the big picture and how they fit into the whole.
Earth Day 2021
We’ve talked internally about the fact that we’re one of the biggest steel recyclers in terms of tonnage. And it was like, how do we quantify that information? We say we’re one of the biggest recyclers because we’re recycling tons and tons of steel, but what does that actually mean? And so I challenged one of our EHS (Environmental Health & Safety) employees, and she put that information into terms that would be a little more relevant to the average employee. She gave me all of these examples of what the amount of steel that we were recycling each year would be like in terms of the Golden Gate Bridge or the Eiffel tower and so on.
The goal was a combination of doing something fun, doing something relevant for Earth Day, and showing people that ELLWOOD really does recycle a lot as part of our business model. So, I used Toonly as the baseline of the video. It’s a software that lets you create animated videos where you can have the mouth move to a voiceover. But then I had these examples and I knew in my mind that I wanted to be able to replicate each image, which I was able to do in Apple Motion. And I used Final Cut Pro to put it all together. It was a challenge, but it was fun. And I was really proud of the end product.
What’s one pro tip that you have for someone who is using an employee app?
One of the things that I have started to incorporate in CMS trainings, is I also train admins on Canva. Canva makes it easy to make videos quickly and other visuals. And I love how they always continue to add to it. So I was like, “okay guys, we’re going to talk about CMS, but then we’re going to talk about what goes into the CMS.” I tell them to think about how they use social media when they create their own content. Ask yourself if you’d click on something. And since I started doing that, the business units are starting to create much more appealing-looking content on the app.
And let me tell you some of them are obsessed with the tool. Some of them are using it for their own stuff outside of work now! I was like, “See? I told ya!”
What advice do you have for other internal communications professionals?
Have plenty of ideas on hand, but be ready to execute on just the top ones. That doesn’t mean discard the other ideas, just understand that you’ve got to do it at the right time. And that’s sometimes a challenge. Like I’m an idea guy. I sometimes need to reign myself in! It’s great to have ten ideas—or twenty!—but which one are you going to do today? Because sometimes you get, you get kind of in your head about all these ideas, but then you don’t execute. I struggled with this for a very long time with social media. Sometimes I would go two or three weeks and I’d be like, “oh man, I haven’t posted.” And I would get down on myself about that. And one of the things I started to think about was what do people outside of the company really care about?
But just set realistic expectations about what everybody can manage and what they can do, because we’re all busy. We’re all wearing several hats. Just don’t beat yourself up about it. Definitely follow through, but temper your expectations.