An Often Overlooked Audience You Shouldn’t Ignore!

I had an opportunity recently to speak to a group of human resource (HR) professionals in my community about a topic I’ve always been passionate about–employee communication. My undergraduate degree was in Psychology and Social Work. My dream as a child was to become a psychologist and, from seventh grade on, that was the path I thought I would take. However, during my senior year of college, I had my first internship and realized that I was not cut out to be a counselor. So, I pursued another path. I was working for a local governmental agency at the time, and I took an interest in HR management. The concept of employee motivation was very interesting to me and clearly aligned with the psychological principles I had learned about in school. So, I toyed with the idea of potentially creating or serving in a role that might be called a “corporate psychologist.”

Then, as fate would have it, I took a new job with a small privately-held firm and learned about the field of marketing. I’ve been hooked ever since, and my college career actually served me quite well in this field. Having a solid understanding of human behavior and motivation, after all, are foundational to effective marketing communication efforts.

That dual interest, though, in motivating employees and markets led me to a very early “a-ha”: the critical importance of ensuring that employees understand, believe in and are armed with messages aligned with the organization’s marketing efforts. Employees do, after all, exert a very strong influence–for good or bad–on a company’s reputation or brand.

Despite this reality, though, I’ve found over the years that far too many companies fail to adequately leverage this internal audience to ensure consistent messaging. It’s not a simple process; in fact it can be quite complex. Doing it well is definitely worth the effort though. Here’s what it requires:

  • A tie between the HR and marketing functions. These two groups need to create and coordinate messaging that is consistent with internal and external audiences, starting with the hiring process.
  • A clear “profile” of the type of employee who will be an effective “brand ambassador.” It’s critical that employees are hired not just for their ability to do the job, but also for their ability to support the brand.
  • A commitment to effective onboarding, training and development and coaching. This also requires a commitment to training supervisors and managers to serve effectively in their roles.
  • A mission, vision and values that reflect reality and that employees can believe in. If it’s not real they will know, and so will your other audiences.
  • Clear communication about the expectations of the organization and its key messages.
  • Ongoing communication about what’s happening in the organization and continual emphasis on the important role employees can play in sharing those messages with a wide range of audiences.
  • Immediate intervention and course correction with employees who are not “living the brand.” Some may not be a fit and, if that’s the case, you really can’t afford to keep them on your team.

That’s it. Simple enough, right? No, of course it’s not. But it is definitely worth the effort. The first question to ask yourself is: “Do our HR and marketing functions currently work together to ensure consistent messaging internally and externally?” If the answer is “no,” it’s time to do something about it!

What are you waiting for?

 

Recommended Reading:

The Everything Guide to Customer Engagement

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