Too often companies and organisations believe good public relations is just about telling their story to the outside world.
It’s true, that is part of it. But good communication is about more than just ‘publishing’ content.
Whether in the media or via your own social media channels, the objective should be to engage audiences or create conversations that ultimately enhance the reputation of your organisation.
And, in an age where social media has completely transformed the power and influence of one person, that ability to strike up a conversation or communicate key messages is no longer the specialism of just your PR team.
Organisations and companies are increasingly recognising that an engaged and enthusiastic workforce can make for an army of passionate brand ambassadors and advocates. Equally a disgruntled employee can be as damaging to your reputation as an unsatisfied customer.
For small PR teams with limited resource, the wider workforce also has the potential to play a valuable role – acting as your eyes and ears in terms of understanding perceptions of your business and spotting opportunities for a story.
Research undertaken last year by fellow strategic PR professionals at Portland surveyed over 2000 employees across the US and UK. It showed that a large majority of employees are ready to become advocates – only 5% currently share company news on social media but 80% would be prepared to speak about positive aspects of their work – they just need the opportunity or support to do so.
It’s something we’ve been working closely with a number of organisations on, including the NHS, to increase employee awareness and understanding of communications, as well as help equip them with the tools they need to act as ‘Communications Champions’ within their organisation.
So how do you support your employees to become brand ambassadors for your business?
Be transparent and open. If employees don’t know what your company is doing or what your aims are, how they can support you? Employees have to want to speak or act on your behalf – and they have to feel that the decision is theirs. Don’t dictate, trust. Trust them with information and trust their judgement.
Provide the tools. Create a social media policy that empowers employees. Increase your company’s visibility online or increase the content you create – it all makes for more opportunities for employees to share with their networks. Make it easy for employees to customise content. There’s nothing worse than seeing 10 versions of the same post on LinkedIn.
Listen to feedback. Find out what topics or stories interest your workforce. What sort of content would encourage them to share and discuss amongst friends? What platforms do they use and what type of posts would be most relevant?
Encourage employees to create and share content that reflects the personality and culture of your business. Your customers will love hearing from ‘real’ people.
Identify active employees. Provide further communications or social media training to allow these employees to take on a greater role within your company communications. Maintain engagement and celebrate their input and success.
A thought piece from Vicky Ross at Karol Marketing – the forensic PR people