Blogger: Susan Vernon-Devlin, Orlando Area Chapter
Ann Rhoades’ opening conference session was a great segue into Devon Chestnut, APR, CPRC’s presentation on internal communications to create a company culture and brand ambassadors. Managing a region of 1,900 employees in two different time zones presents its challenges to create a company culture.
Cox Communications has a million, sometimes irate, customers across the country that are managed by 600 people in a call center in Ocala. How employees incorporate the company culture into handling customer issues is key and makes for better employees overall.
Company culture can be seen in advertising and who is your best advertising, your employees. When Cox employees are out and about wearing company logo clothing they are approached by many people asking questions, or complaining so Cox wants their employees to be “in the know”. Your best brand ambassadors are employees who are “thoroughly engaged, connected and committed”.
The basis for creating great brand ambassadors:
- Communicate with them.
- Get them involved..weekend events, luncheons, getting your employees engaged helps build your brand.
- Ask your employees for feedback and listen to their opinions.
- Establish guidelines and have them on paper so everyone can read them and know where they stand. Like Ann said you want to treat everyone fairly, but not equal. You need guidelines for social media too.
- Recognize your employees to reinforce the culture of the brand.
Make sure your employees know about products/services through your communications; let them know when things are happening and how things are happening; share newsletters (weekly, monthly), sponsor contests to engage employees.
Share community outreach efforts with employees. Give them an internal annual report so they know what’s going on. At Cox, there is an all employee meeting each year for a face-to-face update where company leadership shares what’s been done in the community and fun highlights to reward employees.
Make sure your leaders are engaged too. When employees see that the leaders are engaged it helps reinforce the company culture: 42% of employees feel that their leadership does not contribute to a positive company culture (officevibe.com).
Find opportunities to support the brand. If you don’t have them make them. Make sure your employees know who your clients/partnerships are so they don’t inadvertently hurt the brand. Don’t make the mistake of being un-filtered on social media; It could come back to hurt you in the end.
- Publications: weekly/monthly, have catchy titles to encourage readership
- Intranet: employee-only website(s), make sure its user friendly, build in communities to engage employees who work in certain regions or workgroups
- Videos: use animated or real video content, keep them short, less than two minutes
- Meetings: invite all employees and use it to recognize employee accomplishments
- Ask for Feedback: every opinion counts, ask your employees how they want their communication.
- survey employees to develop communication
- set up an employee experience council to get feedback from employees and make the council diverse so you get ideas from all parts of the company
- Give employees a bank of time off to do volunteer work; Cox gives 8 hours
- Grants for community involvement; give employees money to give back to a non-profit in the community
- Cox Charities (corporate social responsibility): funded and distributed by employees
Policies and Guidelines:
- Know the rules; participation policies need to be in place and communicated to employees
- Have sign up forms for participation so you have data as back up
- Social media guidelines are an absolute must
Recognize your employees:
- Amplifi is a special recognition program with Cox to give employees a pat on the back and public recognition for accomplishments and jobs well-done; points are earned for rewards
- Re-cap videos also help to recognize employee accomplishments; when you can see the accomplishment its highly inspirational and helps leadership become more engaged.
Think of a variety of ways to share messaging with your employees. Use all the channels that you can. Communicate in ways that will be well-received and embraced, and that are meaningful for employees. If they don’t care about the communication, it’s not working. Engaged employees are more productive.
Devon Chestnut, APR, CPRC