You’ve heard the expression “perception is reality.” In business, companies invest countless dollars in publicity, marketing, and promotion to cultivate a specific, positive brand image with customers and the general public. While this is certainly a necessary and essential business practice, far too many companies overlook the importance of doing it internally as well as externally. If your business’ public persona is sparkling, but your employees are unhappy or disgruntled at work, you have as much (if not more) of an image problem as you would with negative publicity in the marketplace. The good news is, there are simple and inexpensive solutions to this issue. It just involves a commitment to focus and communication.
Make Sure Employees Hear Company News at the Same Time or Before the Public
Whether you’re an SRE writing technical information, an IT worker keeping the company’s network running, or a department head managing employees, you want to know what’s going on. One of the biggest, and sadly most common mistakes businesses make is allowing their employees to learn something about the company from the news or social media. Make sure your staff hears information that affects them before the public. Of course, there are times when major announcements must be kept under wraps. In these instances, time the release of the information to the public to line up with the internal announcement. This also allows you to control the initial messaging and provide context to the new information.
Keep the Whole Staff in the Loop About Marketing and PR Initiatives
Along similar lines, it’s important that employees know what moves your company is making with its branding and marketing. This applies to all staff members, not just those involved in those aspects of the business. Take a step back and think about it: don’t your employees deserve to know what the public will be seeing, and hear the thinking behind it? They may even see and point out a flaw in your strategy that the marketing team hadn’t thought of, saving you a fortune in sunk costs. You can also go a step further and use members of your staff to focus test potential promotions and ad campaigns. In this case, the farther they’re removed from those departments, the better. The average audience member/potential customer isn’t versed in marketing trends and lingo, so testing your plans on staff that isn’t either can simulate audience response effectively.
Understand and Embrace Word of Mouth
Hopefully, this isn’t a news flash: your employees will talk about your company outside of work. If they feel things are being mismanaged, opportunities are being missed, or management is hostile or uncaring, they’ll tell their family and friends. If the work culture is cold or if they’re not getting the tools and support they need to do their jobs, you better believe they’ll tell anyone who will listen. Conversely, if they love where they work and feel like the environment is open, honest, and positive, they’ll shout that from the rooftops as well. Look, there are some employees who will never be cheerleaders. They punch the clock, they do their jobs unenthusiastically, expect a paycheck, and disconnect the second they walk out the door. There are others who are go-getters who will always roll with the punches and keep a smile on the face. The trick is to convert those who are somewhere in the middle and could go either way to join the go-getters, not the clock-punchers. Keeping them in the loop is a great way to do that.
Great companies shoot straight with their employees. If things are good, they foster a spirit of celebration. If things take a rough turn, they work to inspire the team to meet the challenge and come out stronger on the other side. Communicate your outside messaging internally, work to build a positive culture, and keep everyone appraised of strategy and marketing. If you do these things, you’ll find yourself making huge steps on the road to success.