Tag Archives: email communication

Guest blog: Employees need to be brand advocates in a digital world

Julia Brook, Director of PR Services at Lea Barn Consultancy, explains why embracing digital means businesses must safeguard their reputation with employees – not just external customers.

In today’s social media-driven world, organisations are more exposed than ever before.

Gone are the days when bad news could be buried and unethical corporate behaviour swept under the carpet. In the digital economy, businesses face higher levels of scrutiny from customers, colleagues, prospective employees, shareholders and stakeholders alike.

Companies of all sizes – and in every industry – have to be accountable for what they say and do, with instances of unethical or unjust behaviour managed proactively rather than reactively. Just ask Donald Trump.

So while there is a huge opportunity and, indeed, imperative for organisations to invest in and benefit from new communication platforms, a focus on reputational risk must be a priority.

This has obvious implications for internal communications and employee relations. Research from Accenture Strategy found that 60 per cent of employees publicly share information about their rewards, salaries and opinions of their manager’s performance on social media sites.

Similarly, websites like glassdoor.co.uk have risen to prominence, enabling professionals to share reviews on the best and worst companies to work for, as well as compare salaries and experiences.

Such sites have the potential to impact your brand not only with potential employees but also customers whom are likely to make purchase decisions based on reputation. The media furore over zero-hours contracts and backlash again Sports Direct springs to mind.

Internal communications takes on new importance in this environment. If organisations truly care about attracting and retaining the top talent, it’s vital they:

• Are in tune with their workforce
• Communicate relevant and honest information on a regular basis
• Have the overall aim of ensuring employees become brand advocates in the same way as external customers.

It’s also important that the workforce is your first port of call when crisis hits. Bearing in mind the speed of social media, internal communications have a key role to play in keeping employees informed about what has happened and what is happening.

When corporate reputation is on the line, speedy internal communications are now as important as preparing external statements. Employees should not have to read about bad news on social media before receiving the official (and honest) version of events from the senior team.

So while digital provides exciting opportunities for all organisations, we shouldn’t forget that it also needs careful management.

Companies aren’t able to hide, so they have to be open and honest with their employees – great internal process and dedicated communications platforms will mean an external crisis or threat to corporate reputation need not also be an internal one.

Guest blog: Leave communications to the communicators

Andrew Hubbard, internal communications manager at Network Rail, asks: “Are we tough enough to challenge the boss?”

“This is signed off so it’s good to go.”

Oh, that’s all fine then. We’ll put that into the machine. Wait a minute… Who wrote this? Who signed it off? And what even is it?

We’ve all been there. Some copy is handed to us for an email, intranet news item or magazine feature and we’re told it’s ready for the masses. But is it?

When it comes to the game of ‘the boss wants it done’, I think all of us have been guilty of going into delivery mode. I know I have. But do we challenge our business leaders enough? After all, we’re paid to do be trusted advisors.

If a colleague from any other area of the business came and said: “Hey, I have an email that needs to go out to everyone in the business right away from the head of procurement. She’s signed it off so it’s good to go.” The first thing we would do is ask what they were trying to get people to do and work with them to achieve just that.

The end result would likely be a different message altogether, delivered in an alternative format or channel.

Do we always do the same when the boss comes with and wants something delivered? And even if we do push back, do they always listen? The boss-knows-best mentality seldom leads to effective communications. It’s on us as communicators to stand firm, advise, provide alternatives and help leaders see that a different way of delivering their all-important messages will pay dividends.

Andrew says: when challenging the boss…

  • Start with why: Why are we looking to say this? Why now? Why this audience? These questions can often lead to the boss rethinking things themselves.
  • Metrics always win: Data beats ideas. Help them see your way of thinking with numbers. It’s difficult to argue with facts and figures. As American engineer W. Edwards Deming once said: “Without data you’re just another person with an opinion.”
  • Provide alternatives: Nobody likes to be told “no”, not least the boss. Have examples of the other options available to them and turn the “no” into a “yes, but what about doing it this way?” Chances are they will like your idea better anyway.