PR practitioners speak to quality media coverage as a business driver that enhances reputation and builds positive brand identity. Advertising executives talk about brand as a promise and advocate advertising to reach customers. Marketing is constantly seeking that special promotion to connect the company with the target audience on a one-to-one basis. All are effective tools in a disciplined, integrated strategic communications and marketing program that sets expectations with customers as to what their experience and expectations should and will be — best product, fastest service, superior customer care, etc.
Despite this fact, companies too frequently fail to recognize and take advantage of a unique and recurring opportunity to consolidate and leverage the aforementioned marketing activities in a regular, consistent and natural activity — employees interacting with customers. Ensuring employees are fully aware of the promises that have been made and the consequent customer expectations that have been set, can make the difference between keeping a happy customer and pushing business to the competition.
When companies fail to adequately communicate external messages to employees, they set up an inherent disconnect that may be costly not only to a carefully crafted and maintained reputation, but to the bottom line business. Significant costs and aggravations in customer support and managerial involvement arising from this disconnect could be saved by simply explaining to employees in advance what is being communicated externally, how it ties to corporate strategy and what they can do to live the brand promise in every customer interaction.
Too often, employees hear about changes to corporate strategy, new products and even major financial news after the fact – and at the same time as the general public through an article in a newspaper, TV broadcast, etc. RSS feeds and other real-time technologies have ensured that employees see company news as soon as it hits the web, and in the worst cases, before they are told by their managers.
As a rule, communicating to employees via the news media is not effective and undoubtedly breeds resentment among the rank and file that “management doesn’t care about its people.” The unfortunate byproduct of excluding internal stakeholders from previews of outbound communication is a lack of employee engagement – a recognized and proven indicator of efficiency, productivity and competitive advantage.
The bottom line is: Don’t forget about employees. Depending on how engaged they are in their job, they can make or break your communications strategy, your brand reputation and your overall business.