How internal buy-in to PR creates more brand promoters

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By Adam Harwood MCIPR

Adam is an accredited PR practitioner working in the skills sector with the Association of Accounting Technicians, the UK’s leading qualification and professional body for vocational accountants.

The discrediting of Advertising Value Equivalent (AVE) as an evaluation tool has long since filtered through to communications teams across industries, with the CIPR expecting members to cease use of the flawed metric back in 2017.

While this begs the question why some media monitoring services continue to provide AVE figures, moreover it has helped shift the focus onto what outcomes, not primary outputs, PR campaigns have actually achieved. This has been spearheaded by AMEC’s interactive framework tool and has led to teams considering the impact not only on targeted prospects, but also current clients or members….and on their organisation itself.

To have a truly positive organisation impact will not just mean how the company is viewed from the outside. It will also see employees throughout the company buying into the campaign and to the key points it tries to make, leading to closer internal engagement and potentially greater collaboration between teams.

In addition, of course, employees are some of the best (possible) advocates a company can have, and if they are sharing your stories and insight, then, to be frank, they offer more credibility then a media team pumping out self-serving links to its own content.

Employee engagement in PR outputs can even have a positive effect on their loyalty and productivity; as they will feel more empowered to play their own part in promoting their company brand more widely.

How to attract internal support

So how can we best motivate employees from other departments, who may have up to this point seen media promotion as somewhat detached from their organisation’s main priorities?

  • Firstly, if you don’t employ an internal comms expert, consider how best to reach your staff through other means. At AAT, we use Workplace, an enterprise connectivity platform developed by Facebook to enhance cross-team collaboration and share successes. Over 30,000 organisations joined the Workplace platform in the first year since its October 2016 launch.
  • As many communications teams know, it’s the people who your organisation is helping achieve their dreams who make for the best PR, as storytelling is powerful and shapes emotions. Do your employees know to share great case studies with you as and when they come across them? Consider developing a case study form that they can offer to outstanding individuals that are benefitting from your company; your employees may need incentivising for attracting people to complete these forms. And remember that great photos are a must!
  • You don’t want to lose overall control of your PR campaigns, but can employees provide input at an early stage? Firms who are intending to launch a new product, for example, can offer staff a sneak preview which can help inform what they may say on their own social channels once that product is launched. Likewise, you could engage employees by asking them what media campaigns particularly worked for them, and listen to their feedback.
  • Can you use great internal data – such as from a company intranet – to help bring a story to life? If so, your employees from other teams might resonate with some of the more interesting facts, and therefore be more willing to help with their promotion.

The days of employees being stifled by prohibitive social media policies that discourage them to ‘talk shop’ online are increasingly behind us. Instead, staff are a powerful people tool for spreading your key messages in PR campaigns to an even wider market.  Your challenge is in assisting them to sit up and take notice of what you’re doing.

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