Blog Post

Enhancing communication at a county government

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018

A County government needed more effective communication throughout its office and among its many constituencies.

Between the financial crisis and major changes to the employment picture in this U.S. county, government services took on an even more important role. Worried residents, demanding elected officials, concerned employees and a staff with more on their plates and fewer resources made for a challenging mix of issues. The County’s administrator wanted to change the dynamics of these relationships. Why couldn’t communication be more effective? More streamlined? Could changing communication change the county for the better?


For the members of the senior administrative staff and a selection of other constituents, we conducted a daylong training session -- The Face2Face Communication Learning Program. The program includes the 4Ps, CORE and HEAR tools. The three tools cover how to communicate (purpose, picture, plan and part); what to communicate (changes, objectives, reasons and effect) and how to listen effectively (honor, echo, ask, respond). Participants learned the tools, then practiced them in a variety of situations, including stand-up meetings and small group discussions to present an idea upward to a supervisor.

The tools are designed to help people communicate more effectively with everyone, making it easier to have face to face discussions, conduct conference calls and even improve email. The business results are an improved environment – rich dialogue and discussion, knowledge sharing, better questions and answers – and a more motivated and empathetic team.  The County saw immediate changes in its relationships internally, and between the administration and elected officials. The County administrator for example, said the tools revolutionized his department, bringing focus to his communications and reducing wasted time spent tracking information down. Completeness, forthrightness and openness are three reported results of the training. The County even conducted a follow-up session for individual contributors to help drive the tools more deeply into the organization.

Contact Sean Williams via his ATD profile for further information, including another short case study regarding a department of a state government. Or, visit  

About the Author

Sean Williams is Vice President and Practice Lead, Education and Internal Communications, for True Digital Communications, a full-service communication and marketing agency based in Greater Cleveland. Previously, he was owner of Communication AMMO, Inc.. Focusing on research-based, strategic counsel and execution, his current and past clients include Ernst & Young (EY), the County of Kalamazoo (Mich.), Western Reserve Academy, University Liggett School, Colorado Rocky Mountain School, Reputation Leadership Group, Excelsior University, Kent State University, Ketchum Change, Avery Dennison, the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, and Western Financial Group. Much of his current work centers on integrated communication AMMO planning process, and manager training, through the Face2Face Communication Learning Program.

Williams has held executive communication posts at National City Bank, KeyCorp and The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company. He has earned a solid reputation for his skills in public relations measurement and evaluation, comprehensive, research-based communication consulting, and intranet strategy. He also provides managerial communication training through Face2Face Communication, which he acquired from Joe Williams Communications in 2015.

Earlier in his career, Williams was senior consultant for Williams, where he expanded the strategic planning, research and consulting practices, and led and refined the Face2Face program with companies including First Energy Corp., KeyCorp, the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Merck, Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Prudential and Lucent, training literally thousands of managers in the innovative and highly rated program.

He also is an adjunct professor of Public Relations at Kent State University, and has created graduate classes in PR Measurement/ROI and social media measurement for Kent and another university.

Williams was vice president of Corporate Communications for National City Corporation, leading the public relations measurement and evaluation and internal communication functions during the height of the financial crisis. Previously, he was manager of Editorial Services for The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, responsible for internal communication and video production, photography and event production management. While at Goodyear, Williams lead the team rebuilding the corporate intranet, using editorial content from around the world. He also served as the primary internal communication consultant to the company’s senior leadership and produced videos and still photography for a variety of constituencies.

He was with KeyCorp for 13 years, most recently as vice president and senior communication manager for the financial services company. He directed corporate management communication and provided comprehensive, research-based communication consulting for the personal and institutional investment business, among other assignments.

Williams received his Master of Arts in Journalism/Mass Communication from Kent State University, and his B.A. in Political Science from the University of Washington. He is a member of the Institute for Public Relations’ Commission on Measurement and Evaluation, and has published three research papers analyzing the PR measurement program of a major financial company, internal communications and social media. He is the co-winner of the 2008 International Public Relations Research Conference Jackson-Sharpe Award for PR research authored by an academic and a practitioner. His Master’s thesis focuses on influence online and offline, and he presented papers on that subject at the 2015 and 2013 International PR Research Conference.

Williams is a member of the Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication; the PRSA Employee Communication Section, the international and Greater Cleveland Chapters of SHRM, and the Association for Training & Development (ATD). He also is an emeritus member of the Institute for Public Relations Measurement Commission, and the advisory board of the International PR Research Conference. 

He leads a project for the Institute for Public Relations on Internal Communication Measurement Standards. Recent speaking engagements include discussing the Standards project at the PRSA International Conference and the Summit on the Future of Communication Management, both in the Fall of 2016, and presenting the Standards at the International Public Relations Research Conference in March 2017, where he and his research team received a "Top Two Papers" award for their work. Others include  "You Need AMMO: Using Internal Communication Measurement to Improve Strategy' for the PRSA Connect '15 conference and "Introduction to Digital Marketing & best practices for Boarding Schools" for the Western Boarding School Association. Others: “Live, it’s Super Friday” for the PRSA Connect ’14 conference; “Why reputation risk is a PR issue, and what you can do about it” for the IABC Heritage Region Conference; and “You need Communication AMMO!” for the International IT Service Management Fusion conference. Other engagements include “Internal Communication: Measure Actions not just attitudes” for PRSA-Georgia; “Reinventing Ourselves: Employee Engagement” breakout and panel discussion for and earlier IABC Heritage Region Conference; “30 minutes on measurement” for IABC Cleveland; the YouToo Social Media Conference; “Intro to PR measurement”, a webinar for the U.S. Veteran’s administration, and an in-person presentation for the Ohio Association of County Boards, and the PRSA Akron Area chapter.

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