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A Communications Strategy Case Study: Ocean Spray Cranberries

Posted by Spitfire Communications on May 28, 2020 10:30:00 AM
A Communications Strategy Case Study: Ocean Spray Cranberries

The last time Ocean Spray was featured on our blog, we focused on their efforts (and success) in implementing an employee benefits website. Now that employees are comfortable with digital communications, how do we make more of an impact, gain insight and build toward the future? The organic next step was to create a strategy and management plan that would enable their communications to continually evolve and adapt to their employees’ needs. Read on to see how we helped.

Establish Goals and Objectives

The key to developing a year-long communications strategy is defining your goal – what are you trying to accomplish? Once that is established, identify how to reach that goal. For example, Ocean Spray sought to remove the impediments that limit their employees’ ability to bring their best selves to work.

With that goal established, what are your objectives, how are you going to reach your goal? Ocean Spray struggled with employees recognizing all the benefits available to them. How can we ensure that employees know about a benefit before they need it? It was clear that we needed to revamp the employee benefits website to drive traffic and increase employee engagement.

Ocean Spray also wanted to highlight mental health benefits as claims and general feedback showed that employees’ needs were growing exponentially. This fueled a desire to find a new Employee Assistance Program (EAP) vendor and tout all the benefits available through that program.

We recommend identifying your top 3 objectives so that you can narrow your focus, readily implement a plan of action, fine tune your goal and ultimately, succeed.


Dive Deep

With your goal and objectives clearly defined, how can you build a communications strategy to ensure your success?

We collaborated with Ocean Spray to build a strategy, which included these touchpoints:

  • Demographics: age, gender, shifts, geography, etc.
  • Benefits enrollment and utilization
  • Analytics from the current website to establish user patterns
  • Available communication channels
  • Vendor material
  • Previous successes and struggles

CommunicationStrategy_OceanSpray_GraphicWe conducted a SWOT analysis to identify how we could capitalize on current strengths and opportunities yet avoid weaknesses and threats that may have hindered past efforts. We toured a plant, witnessed the mesmerizing process of making craisins, but more importantly, observed what a typical plant environment looked like. This helped us to plan for how to reach plant employees whose needs are often far different from what is experienced in the home office.

We also reached out to Ocean Spray’s vendors – to enhance and build upon the communications they already provided. Having a cohesive message that specifically targets the value of offered benefits is essential to getting employees to understand and utilize all that is available to them.


The Communication Approach

Now that we have our goal, objectives and research/information gathering complete, we can build the strategy. Remember, Ocean Spray’s goal was to remove the impediments that limit their employees’ ability to bring their best selves to work. The three objectives identified to achieve that goal are:


1. Launch and drive traffic to benefits Website

Ocean Spray employees were already familiar with accessing their benefits digitally, so we were able to observe their patterns and behavior and factor in HR’s feedback.

Challenge: Multiple versions of the website made access to the site cumbersome.
    • Solution: Sites were consolidated into one version. Any targeted, important notices were now also release through Ocean Spray's Yammer (an internal social media platform).
Challenge: Website navigation was not structured intuitively.
    • Solution: Redundant navigation was created and organized by life event.


Challenge: There was low employee engagement and interaction with benefits department.

    • Solution: A dedicated page for “Keri’s Corner” was created. Keri, an Ocean Spray Benefits employee would post videos on pertinent topics. A question form was added to that page of the website, so employees could in questions directly to Keri.




Ocean Spray had decided to find a new EAP vendor, which made this a perfect time to rebrand the program. Employees were missing the myriad of benefits the EAP offers.

Branching off Ocean Spray’s long-time successful wellness program, Fit for Life, the EAP was renamed Fit for Life Cares. We sent a mailer to homes with contact information on a magnet so employees, spouses and dependents could quickly reference and access the program. We also flooded the benefits website with information and resources both on the EAP page and the life event pages with applicable program benefits specific to each event.


3. increase Mental Health Awareness

Mental health concerns were on the rise. Employees were struggling with childcare, elderly parents, finances and lack of sleep. There was an increase in sleep-related disorders, mental health claims and an ever-growing stigma with admitting they needed help. With this information, Ocean Spray began a campaign on mental health awareness. Employees were given stickers to display on their workspace to show solidarity – a tactic identified as a strength in previous communication campaigns. A mailer and web page with statistics and resources for mental health were sent home to employees, spouses and dependents. Keri’s Corner featured a vlog on mental health awareness, addressing concerns and reassuring employees that they’re not alone.


The Impact

Each of our strategic communication plans provides an Impact Report to clearly outline the established goal, objectives, approach, results and recommendations for the year ahead.

Ocean Spray had a lot of success in all areas of their communications planning. The employee benefits site was well-received and saw:


Since its debut, Keri’s Corner has remained in the top three most visited pages of the site. People are interacting with the page and using the form for submissions.

Traffic to the EAP page saw a steady increase of 87% over the first two quarters since the rebrand. Most importantly, in this time period utilization increased from 2% to over 11%. This shows that employees are finding information about their benefits easily, learning about them and utilizing them.


OceanSpray_CaseStudy_BlogGraphics3-2The dialogue around mental health continues, especially in this unprecedented time of uncertainty and anxiety, and will remain a priority. In fact, a recent study shows that most employees are likely to believe their employer than the government when it comes to information about COVID-19 [Edelman Trust Barometer 2020]. With information like that, it’s important to utilize the powerful role Human Resources has to positively impact employees’ lives.

Keep the Momentum Going

A holistic strategy can improve employee engagement with their benefits. We implemented a strong and diverse multi-media strategy to reach employees through digital, print and interactive media platforms. Segmenting the information by life events rather than standard demographics has greatly improved the way we target our information. The communications were relatable, positive and informative to overcome stigmas so that employees could take advantage of all that they were offered and bring their best selves to work.

These results are just the beginning. They will be used to inform goals for the next year and enhance on the success of the first year. Our fresh approach streamlined communication across a variety of channels and platforms, helped their employees take full advantage of a vast array of benefits and added an innovative new spark to their overall employee experience. 


Are you ready to make a major impact on your organization? Find out how our unique approach takes your employee communications to the next level.

Tags: What's Trending, Employee Communications, communication strategy, Marketing, Employee Marketing, 2020, momentum, COVID

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