Who is your spokesperson? Why does it matter? What makes a spokesperson great?
When it comes to putting a face on our brands, employees aren’t usually the first people we think of. However, while professional PR figures or social media influencers are masters of polish and presentation, the very lack of pretense is what makes an employee such a compelling representative. As “outsiders” of the traditional public relations field, employee’s “boots on the ground” experience and insight can make a powerful impact.
So, if you haven’t yet empowered employees to represent your brand to customers, investors, or the world at large, it’s time to give it some serious thought. If your first question is, “But how do I prepare them to spread our message?”, you aren’t alone. Luckily, the answer is simple and aligned with your existing employee engagement and development efforts.
Internal Marketing: Educate & Engage Employees
The first step is to ensure that employees at all levels understand what the brand represents. Ideally, your internal and external branding efforts operate cohesively to create meaning and impact the brand experience of both customers and employees. After all, your employees should feel as passionate or more about what their brand stands for than even the most loyal customers. How does this work in practice?
Internal branding is the steady drumbeat of messages and actions that create a meaningful work experience for your employees. It’s your external marketing recast for an internal audience. So if the image your brand presents to customers is of creativity and spontaneity, but your employee’s experience is of rigidity and the “daily grind,” there’s a serious gap between your brand’s image and its reality.
Successful internal marketing means embracing transparency, communication, and engagement. Your employees should be aware of any major developments well before they are made public. They should be well versed in the Mission, Vision, and Values that serve as the foundation of your brand. They should feel that their daily experience is valued and consistent with the external marketing of the brand they help create.
When employees are educated in the core principles of their brand and engaged in the meaning of the work that they do every day, they’re poised to be powerful public advocates for your brand.
A Crash Course for Brand Ambassadors
If you have exceptional employees who live out their connection to your brand through the work they do every day, you have a host of impactful brand spokespeople just waiting to be unleashed. But don’t put them in the spotlight just yet! Effective spokesmanship requires a bit of preparation.
Here are a few ways to turn any passionate employee into a PR prodigy:
Value Authenticity Over Polish
Speaking in public is consistently rated as one of people’s worst fears, which is usually compounded by the fact that we expect perfection from ourselves. Assure your employees that authenticity is more important than perfection. In fact, an authentic voice (flaws and all) connects better with an audience than a message that has been polished beyond recognition. Our shared humanity is our most powerful tool for engagement and persuasion.
Embrace the Power of Stories
Instead of asking an employee to memorize a set of PR talking points, enable them to be their most effective by asking them to share a story about their work and its impact on their life. When employees speak from their own experience of a brand’s inner workings, they are authentic and credible storytellers who can make a big impression on their audience. A true story that reinforces a brand’s values or impact is incredibly valuable.
Leverage Social Media
Not every employee will be comfortable speaking publicly about their work, but that doesn’t mean they can’t make an important contribution as a brand spokesperson. Social media is a platform that almost every employee can use to share personal stories or brand content. It’s important to establish clear guidelines when encouraging employees to talk about their work on social media, but the rewards are considerable.
Your Greatest Asset
Still not convinced that your employees should be at the forefront of your marketing and PR strategy? The 2013 Edelman Trust Barometer Study found that the public trusts messages from employees more than professional PR people or even C-suite executives. Your audience values authenticity, credibility, and a unique perspective on the inside workings of your brand – to give it to them, look no further than the breakroom.