Putting the personal into PR
Allowing your employees and management to become an ambassador for your brand can be both challenging and rewarding. At PR is Key, social business strategist Jochem Koole explained why and how your colleagues should get involved into your corporate communications and PR efforts.
Relationship are not built between institutions, but between individuals. The world that we know is being challenged. The Edelman Trust Barometer shows that trust in the four key institutions - business, government, NGOs, and media - is in crisis. The good news is that individual employees are being perceived as trustworthy. Now more than ever, organizations must break with their long-established traditions of corporate communication, and work towards a new, more integrated operating model that puts people at the center of activity. Your ability to build personal relationships with your stakeholders can create a distinctive and competitive advantage. So, the question shouldn’t be why your PR strategy has to be personal, but rather how you can achieve this.
Select and train your content heroes
Employees who engage on social media and blogs in a personal and professional way, are actively building relationships with their target audiences. It is key to support these enthusiastic employees by educating them on how they can use online tools in a meaningful way to contribute to their (personal) business goals. It’s better to forget about an “army of content soldiers”, but instead focus on the 1% of passionate workers who are really willing to act as ambassadors for your brand. Show them how to do that in a way that personally benefits them and won’t take up too much of their time.
There are three main ways in which employees can act as ambassador and engage with their target audience.
Simply listen and learn about the (potential) client’s challenges, needs and considerations.
Showcase their knowledge and expertise in their online profiles. Let your reader know it’s more about their needs, not about your services, by using more ‘you’s’ than ‘I’s’.
Publish and distribute your brand's content, but also expose their personal expertise by writing blogs or articles.
Even enthusiastic employees need support and motivation from their PR department to put themselves ‘out there’. People often feel that they don’t have the time to contribute to your online reputation and do not prioritize this. Therefore it is important that you help them, facilitate their efforts and make them realize that putting in a bit of extra work can go a long way. For example, when they visit an event, a tweet or an update on LinkedIn can already contribute to positive brand awareness. Furthermore, you could use employee advocacy tools by scheduling tweets and posts for colleagues to distribute on their personal networks. Unfortunately, the reach of content being posted on company pages and through these scheduling tools is declining. Having your employees sharing brand content on their personal social media pages will increase your reach and will pose an opportunity to get your message across to interesting and new audiences. There are at least seven points of contact between varying actors before sales are being finalized, online presence of employees can be one of them.
Convincing the brass
To put the personal in PR you might have to change some of your ways and to do so you probably need your management team’s support, as you need a combination of time and money to turn this strategy into practice. The important factor in convincing upper management to allocate extra time, manpower and budget is to gain some success first, and take it from there. Show your bosses how there’s money to be made by making PR more personal. Send out monthly reports on your results, listing not only to “soft” KPI’s like reach and sentiment, but also “hard” ones like leads and deals that can be attributed to your PR efforts. The more success you gain, the more involved your bosses will get.
From colleagues to ambassadors
In summary, there are five best practices when it comes to putting the personal into PR:
Allow and encourage your colleagues to use online technologies to establish direct professional relationships.
Show your colleagues why they should invest their time in brand ambassadorship and teach them how to do it.
Forget the army of content soldiers and focus on the 1% that is willing and able to invest time.
Don’t use too much PR and marketing speak when talking to your boss: talking money helps.
Celebrate your successes, no matter how little they are. Sharing results helps enthuse the rest of the organization.
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