Suncor is the largest energy company in Canada and the fifth largest in North America, with operations that include oil sands development and upgrading, conventional and offshore exploration and production, and petroleum refining. After Suncor merged with PetroCanada in 2009, all related transitional communication for employees was branded "IntoFocus." But by 2012, it was evident that many of these tools needed rebranding. The internal biweekly newsletter, IntoFocus News, had become repetitive of Suncor's intranet, and the communication team identified a need for a new employee publication that would provide more comprehensive company information.
The team's main goal was to create an engaging, informative publication that complemented other employee communication channels, including the intranet, email roundups and web casts. Its mission was to tell stories that simplified complex ideas, entertained, inspired, reinforced company values, and built trust and community. A fresh, graphic-rich look and feel and new editorial guidelines helped give the magazine a "wow" factor.
Even the name, 360: The Complete Picture, reflected Suncor's intent to share information about issues that matter most to employees. A survey of employees showed that they increasingly felt pressure to speak knowledgeably about Suncor and more generally about the energy industry, particularly as criticism of energy companies and the oil sands industry has escalated. With that in mind, 360's editorial team aimed to provide stories about Suncor's business, safety record, environmental performance and social responsibility so employees could better understand the issues and become ambassadors for the company.
Although the research found that employees valued both printed and online materials, the communication team also showed that people generally retain more information after reading printed pieces. Cost was also a factor in the decision to go with a new magazine format: A higher-quality, less frequent publication actually cost less to produce than a newsletter that came out more frequently. (The overall annual budget for 360 is roughly 60 percent of what had been budgeted for the newsletter.) Both of those factors were key to getting Suncor's leadership behind the move to 360.
The final issue of IntoFocus News featured stories about Suncor's retiring CEO and bid farewell to the publication. The first issue of 360 explained the magazine's purpose and debuted a new monthly...