Planning and executing an intranet launch campaign is a complex process, and it can be hard to know where to start. This article gives you a behind-the-scenes look at Edinburgh Airports successful launch of its new intranet, Gate 8, including key strategies and tactics to drive adoption and engagement.

Launching an intranet is no easy feat, especially when you’re a busy airport with hundreds of deskless workers and millions of passengers wheeling their suitcases through your doors. With everyone constantly on the go, how can you create a comms plan that raises awareness and gets people excited for a new intranet site?

The team at Edinburgh Airport recently shortlisted for the CIPR Scotland PRide Awards in the Internal Communications Campaign category gave us the inside scoop on how they put together a launch plan that had everyone ready for a smooth takeoff.

Edinburgh Airport serves 14.7 million passengers each year and prides itself on being the place where Scotland meets the world. With 850 employees to keep connected and informed, the airport needed a launch campaign that eased the transition to new technology, generated excitement among users, and encouraged the use of its new intranet.

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Why Edinburgh Airport needed a new intranet

Like many organizations, Edinburgh Airport had a legacy system that didn’t meet the needs of the comms team or employees. This led to the search for a new unified platform that would connect and engage employees serving in a wide variety of roles: everyone from security staff in terminals to executives.

Edinburgh airport exterior entrance

The airport wanted an intranet that would become a key channel for company news and information. In 2019, only 9% of employees reported using the airport’s old intranet to find what they needed.

Another issue was adjusting to increased work from home, which led to disconnection and created a need for location-independent access.

Gate 8, the airport’s new intranet, was born in 2022 as a solution to inform, engage, and educate employees on business operations and strategy. With high engagement from the start, Gate 8 has become an essential employee resource and a key channel for internal communications. This success all started with a strategic intranet launch campaign.

Edinburgh Airport’s internal communications team was tasked with planning and executing the campaign. Their goals around the launch included:

  • Spreading awareness about Gate 8 and its benefits
  • Showing employees the wide range of information they could access on Gate 8 and how to find it
  • Developing collateral that would maximize adoption and engagement

Here’s how the Gate 8 launch team generated awareness and enthusiasm around the new intranet, leading to increased adoption and usage of an employee-centric resource that staff continue to rely on daily.

Thorough audience research

Audience research is the foundation of any successful intranet launch campaign. To effectively convey the importance and appeal of a new intranet solution, comms teams need a thorough understanding of the employees who will be using it.

The Gate 8 launch team took the time to examine its audience, listening to employees to figure out their pain points, needs, and what they expected from a new intranet.

As part of the campaign research process, airport employees were asked what they hoped to gain from a new internal communications platform. Responses revealed that workers wanted a one-stop shop for information that was easy to use and accessible from both home and work. They needed a quick, intuitive, and effective way to share company news and information.

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The team also drew on results from a 2021 company-wide wellbeing survey. One major pain point the survey uncovered was that employees had a hard time adjusting to increased work-from-home practices. There was a sense of disconnection, especially among deskless workers who missed the daily contact that occurred across teams before working from home became a common practice. Because of this, the team knew its campaign had to emphasize Gate 8’s potential to foster connection among colleagues regardless of function, department, or location.

After conducting audience research, the team knew which aspects of Gate 8 would appeal most to employees and had a better idea of what to emphasize during the campaign. This allowed them to move on to the next step: campaign development.

Creative, strategic campaign development

A well-crafted launch campaign sets the stage for an intranet’s success. Getting early and enthusiastic user buy-in is key, and coming up with campaign themes and concepts that resonate with and excite employees is a big part of accomplishing this. Creativity, cohesive messaging, and attention-grabbing collateral all result in intranet adoption and use.

The Gate 8 launch team harnessed employee crowdsourcing in their initial creative planning, giving employees the opportunity to get involved early on with an intranet-naming competition. Employees suggested intranet names and submitted their ideas, with top choices going to a company-wide vote. This resulted in a final pick that was relevant to the business and meaningful to workers. Gate 8 is an inside joke among employees because there is no Gate 8 in Edinburgh Airport’s departure lounge. Selecting Gate 8 as a name injected personality into the intranet and created a sense of ownership for its users right from the start.

Gate 8 intranet banner
Gate 8’s name and theme are centered around its function and have special meaning to employees.

Once they landed on a strong intranet name, the Gate 8 team’s next step was to develop creative, interesting collateral that would drive engagement. To capture employee attention and maintain consistency with the intranet’s name and subject matter, the team chose airport-themed formats for campaign collateral.

They used common items you might find at an airport, such as terminal signage and boarding cards, as internal promotional materials that provided information about Gate 8, its benefits, and how to access it.

Gate 8 intranet boarding pass
An example of campaign collateral, this boarding pass, featuring key information and a QR code to download the Gate 8 app, was handed out in office areas and distributed to employees at launch events.

During the planning process, the Gate 8 team developed a cohesive messaging strategy for the campaign. They set out the three most important points to share with employees about Gate 8, which were emphasized throughout all employee communications regarding the new intranet. The points were:

  • Gate 8 is a one-stop shop for information, resources, news, and updates
  • Information is easy to access from desktop and mobile (at work and at home)
  • Gate 8 will help you connect with colleagues

The right launch tactics

Implementation is the moment of truth for an intranet launch campaign. Deploying carefully thought-out and well-executed pre-launch and launch tactics, such as early rollouts, multichannel promotion, engaging events, and leadership involvement, is the key to generating interest and getting employees on board right away.

These strategies can be the difference between a successful campaign and one that falls flat.

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The Gate 8 team delivered their campaign from initial planning meeting to launch in under three months, which required thoughtful preparation for each step of the process. They employed several standout implementation strategies to make their intranet launch a success.

Encouraging use and feedback

One lucky group of employees got to pre-board Gate 8 with early intranet access. This was done to get initial feedback on the new intranet, with the additional goal of generating buzz. Giving users the opportunity to spread the word to their colleagues created excitement around the launch.

Feedback wasn’t limited to this early group and didn’t stop after the launch. Gate 8 has an intranet forum dedicated to user comments, so employees can visit at any time to add their opinions, questions, and suggestions about the intranet.

Leadership buy-in

Getting leaders involved in and excited about an intranet is key to convincing staff to embrace it as well. The Gate 8 team did this by creating a special early demo session just for senior leadership. They encouraged leaders to log in and set up profiles ahead of the launch and asked the executive team to post blogs that shared their thoughts and stories around Edinburgh Airport.

The purpose of these blogs was twofold; it created content for employees to explore when they logged on at launch, while at the same time demonstrating upper management’s buy-in to Gate 8.

Gate 8’s launch film, featuring CEO Gordon Dewar, introduced the intranet and its benefits to employees.

Another opportunity to showcase leadership buy-in for Gate 8 was the intranet’s launch film. Edinburgh Airport CEO Gordon Dewar starred in a short video produced in-house that gave staff a tour of Gate 8 and explained its importance.

Messaging about the new intranet that came straight from the CEO helped build awareness and encourage adoption. The video had airport-centered themes, graphics, and sound effects, keeping it consistent with other collateral.

Timing, reach, and engagement

Timing and channels matter when it comes to reaching employees, especially when there’s a variety of worker functions, locations, and shift patterns involved. The varied workforce at Edinburgh Airport meant it would take some time to inform all employees about the new intranet, so the Gate 8 team settled on a launch duration of two weeks. 

In addition to a longer time frame, the campaign needed multiple touchpoints to ensure no employees were missing out on information. The Gate 8 team used several methods to announce and tout the intranet’s benefits.

The first step was introducing Gate 8 at Edinburgh Airport’s monthly town hall, which gave the team the opportunity to promote the intranet and explain how it could be used. Two all-staff emails were sent out, one a week before launch and another on launch day itself, with information on how to access Gate 8 and what its key benefits were.

An employee email, sent as part of the Gate 8 launch campaign, maintains a friendly tone and keeps with the intranet’s theme.

In addition to these digital updates, Gate 8’s roadshows delivered an in-person element to build excitement and capture the attention of as many deskless and desk-based employees as possible. The team hosted 18 roadshows across eight office areas to raise awareness about the new intranet and encourage signups.

The collateral created during the campaign development stage was displayed during roadshows and distributed to employees in office areas. These airport-themed materials included screensavers, posters, an interactive selfie board, pop-up banners, and boarding cards. The collateral provided key information about Gate 8, instructions for access, and QR codes that allowed employees to easily download the employee mobile app.

Gate 8 intranet launch collateral
Interactive, airport-themed collateral generated employee enthusiasm around Gate 8.

Results that make all the difference

When an intranet launch campaign is well-designed, planned, and executed, the results speak for themselves. Edinburgh Airport got the impact it was looking for and more.

By the end of its first month, the new platform was already a vital employee hub:

  • Gate 8 had 38,000 page views
  • 70% of users boarded via the desktop site
  • 40% had already used the new employee mobile app

Six weeks after going live, Gate 8 served as the main channel for promoting the company’s 2022 People Survey. When asked about which communication channels they used to access company information, 78% of respondents reported using the intranet, a 69% increase from 2019.

Launch is an important time for cultivating engagement for an intranet, but it doesn’t mean the work is finished. Gate 8’s launch collateral is still in use as a key part of the airport’s onboarding strategy, encouraging new hires to engage with the intranet right away.

Gate 8’s latest success is also its most prestigious. The launch campaign has been shortlisted for the CIPR Scotland PRide Awards in the Internal Communications Campaign category. The award honors standout strategic campaigns that have successfully engaged internal stakeholders, forwarded organizational objectives, and displayed a creative flair. The Gate 8 launch campaign has achieved just that.

Free guide: Essential internal communications strategy

Discover 14 steps to building effective internal comms for your organization.