So you’ve got what you believe to be a winning PR strategy in place. Your regular press release schedule ensures a steady supply of media coverage, and the events you stage from time to time have you in the good books of many key journalists.
But while you might be seeing your name in lights and be grabbing headlines across a range of desirable channels, your ability to practice effective PR is limited if you ignore your most fundamental audience – your employees.
While many companies today spend exorbitant amounts ‘getting the message out’ via newspapers, radio and online platforms, the sad truth is that very few invest similar time and expense getting the message IN.
Ultimately, your employees form the frontline of any PR campaign, so it’s important not to keep them in the dark if you hope to leverage positive media coverage into real business returns.
At the end of the day, your employees can either be your most effective brand ambassadors, or unknowingly play a pivotal role in derailing even the most well crafted publicity plans. So isn’t it time you factored them into your PR strategy?
Why internal PR is so important
Imagine this scenario for a moment. You’ve just launched an amazing new product, which you’ve punted actively across every media channel in existence. You’ve posted all over Facebook. You’ve tweeted about it until you’re blue in the face. But you’ve neglected to communicate it clearly within your workforce.
A potential customer calls in, inspired and excited by what they’ve just read in their morning paper, only to be met by a series of ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’ from the woefully uninformed customer service agent on the other end of the line. And right there and then your PR strategy begins to unravel.
By overlooking your employees in your approach to communication, you’ve essentially ensured that, while the eyes of the world might be on you and your shiny new offering, you won’t be converting that interest into income. You see if you aren’t reinforcing your external messaging internally, you’re creating a palpable disconnect that will be felt by both consumers and staff.
So how do you go about crafting an effective internal PR strategy? Here are a few pointers to get you started:
Give employees the heads up
Whether the news you’re about to distribute to the public is good or bad, it’s vital that you circulate it internally first. This will give employees time to clarify any misunderstandings and address any concerns they might have, thus enabling them to be properly prepared when your message goes public.
In the case of positive news, employees will be able to accurately reinforce whatever it is you’re promoting publicly, and exercise enthusiasm regarding developments when they’re dealing with customers and their own contacts. If the news is negative, your employees will act as your first line of defence, and be well versed in communicating your public stance when questioned.
It’s often been said that word-of-mouth is the most effective form of publicity, so why not promote sharing of significant milestones, client wins and achievements within your workforce. Not only will this boost morale and enthusiasm internally, but it’ll also allow you to further extend your communication into the public sphere.
So get your employees tweeting, Facebooking, pinning, Google plussing and whatever else it is they do. Remember to make sure you leverage your own social channels in this regard, and offer them well-worded, shareable status updates that they’re easily able to distribute amongst their followers.
You’re not going to make a success of your internal PR strategy if you limit your communication platform to email. In an age of rapidly shortening attention spans, you’re going to have to do better than a company-wide mailer to effectively get your message across.
So find new ways to communicate with staff. Offer them one-on-ones, during which they can discuss their feelings and concerns about the latest company developments. Provide online forums, through which they can offer their own feedback and comments. Incentivise knowledge uptake, and offer employees with the best understanding of your company mission and values some sort of reward.
However you choose to communicate with your workforce, make sure you keep things interactive and engaging. That way you’ll keep your employees both invested and informed, and empowered with the ability to elevate your PR strategy to the next level.