This interview with James Kent, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer at Thornton Tomasetti, a leader in engineering design, investigation and analysis serving clients worldwide on projects of all sizes and complexity, was conducted and condensed by Christopher Parsons.
Christopher Parsons: I’ve looked at hundreds of architecture and engineering intranets over the last year and a half. I’ve never seen this much content. This is really exceptional.
James Kent: Thank you. Our intranet is divided into two broad areas: links to firm-wide resources and what journalists would call “the news hole,” that is, various kinds of editorial content. The news hole is divided into four kinds of content: We have a lead feature story front and center, with a big image; below that we have three news stories with smaller thumbnail images; below those we have four elements you might call “departments” and in the right rail are very short, newsy items, including an “image of the week,” which employees across the firm submit. We update the site once a week, unless there is something really urgent, which goes up right away.
The feature is usually the longest, most important, and most timely element. News stories generally run shorter. We have five “departments:” Sustainability features anything related to our green efforts; Tech Talk is the most technical engineering element, like mini-seminars; Project Spotlights generally feature two key projects per week in 200 words or less; Media Mentions is what others are saying about us in the press and on blogs, etc., and Talks & Papers is presentations we have made or papers published. Nearly all the editorial content is generated by one editor, with help from another part-time writer, so it comes from 1.5 writers.
Taken as a whole, this is our corporate knowledge, right? We’re generating all this stuff, and capturing all this information. What else can we do with it?
What we do every week is sit down, the three of us — the intranet editor, the web manager and me — and say, “OK, of all this stuff on the intranet, what should we boil up to the public site, to our Facebook page, to YouTube? What should we tweet about? Which should go on the public website?”
We basically share everything that is not proprietary or confidential. We don’t share information that we think is a competitive advantage. But we share all other information that we think may help clients, business partners, students, and anyone else interested in learning about our work or the AEC community.