Today, more than ever, employee advocacy and PR are intrinsically linked, and a true connection is necessary when business objectives need to be met. When we talk about messages and communication with audiences, corporate image, the social networks, all this can be leveraged multiple times if the employee advocacy is in place and functioning well in the company.
We could say that PR is the octopus head and body, researching, understanding and pumping out the information, creating the strategies, the messages, defining the audiences and the employee advocates are the tentacles of that octopus, transporting all this to multiple target audiences and persuading them that your client’s company or brand is the best.
On social media, one doesn’t work without the other. We are moving in every sense to a much more ‘people’s world’, where ordinary people believe other ordinary people, not CEOs or directors or heads of State. So employees are in an ideal position to carry all the positive information on your company to your buyers and other key audiences.
To have good employee advocacy, owners and directors must engage with their employees. Although up until now companies have been loath to allow employees to put out messages about their company because they feel a need to control them, many are now realizing that with the social network scenario, this will happen anyway. And it is better to foment it through proper channels and to give trust through responsibility rather than to just ignore it.
If motivated and informed correctly, employees can prove wonderful ambassadors and this helps to reach audiences included in PR strategies. More outreach leads to a more successful campaign which in turn affects the bottom line of the company.
The best spokespersons you can use to persuade an audience are the company employees because they have personal and intimate knowledge of the company and of the business culture. It has been said that a highly engaged workforce means the difference between a company that outperforms its competitors and that which fails to grow. It is very obvious why, as a PR professional, you would want to be able to interact with these advocates and allow them to help you do outstanding work for your client.
Having said all this, according to Gallup, 87% of employees worldwide are not engaged. I do believe that, in this field, the western world is way ahead of its Eastern counterpart; however, the figures are surprising. After all, in an ideal world, the employees are the ones who go the extra mile to get the message out. Should employee advocacy be a part of the PR remit? There is certainly an important connection and it is very important that messaging is very clearly understood by employees. They need to be convinced in order to relay these messages and that involves being able to understand, in detail, why you have created the messages you have created and why they will help the company.
PR drives brand awareness which customers or clients need to engage with your company. And the further this brand awareness reaches, the further it influences the initial view the audience has.
PR plays a major role in corporate image. As a customer moves from consideration to action, the corporate image becomes a key component to how the they feel about the company and its brand.
3rd party endorsement, an important component of PR, from an advocate is the same as 3rd party endorsement from a journalist or blogger and advocates can be important influencers.
As clients or customers go through the process of selecting a product or service, they encounter PR at various stages of the process. PR helps to develop the company’s product and corporate messages and these will work better if they are understood and used by the employees. Every single staffer is on the company’s marketing team when it comes to telling the story. Give the employees a platform and use the employees’ own messages and experiences to tell your stories, or, better still, get the employees to give you the stories you can use, engaging and motivating them, internally or externally through social media channels. Use employee input on company web pages and social apps, blogs, etc. and include employees to write articles for the company, they can publish articles, write updates on LinkedIn or provide quotes, but be sure that PR professionals help and give them the right insights and knowledge for content.
PR is always the most effective when it aligns with the company’s goals and employee advocacy helps to make that possible. According to McKinsey, 50% of all buying decisions are influenced by word of mouth. PR creates the messaging; employees help disseminate it.
If you look at the benefits of employee advocacy, you will find that it fits in perfectly with your clients’ PR objectives:
- Increased visibility
- Amplified influence
- Valuable relationship building
- Raised revenues
When it comes to monitoring the results of your campaign, you can define measurable goals such as increase in web traffic, extra event registration, sales impact or employee engagement in social media. This information can be used to further motivate employees and also to improve your own results as a PR professional.
We shouldn’t forget that trust and control are two big words in all this. PR can help persuade employers that the advocacy is a win-win situation and that it will help the company without doubt to improve its bottom line.