Businesses need to realize that the best public relations start internally: in communicating persistently and well with their employees. You can't go wrong giving that sound advice to any business you might be working with. As evidence, if any is needed, the Chicago Tribune has a story on two companies with strong workplace relationships — a fleet leasing company and a global consulting firm.
Both Emkay and Accenture make employees privy to ample information about how the firms are doing and challenges they face. Feeling tuned-in internally helps employees feel more upbeat in functioning externally and that boosts relationships with customers. Good internal communication builds external credibility.
This all might seem self-evident. Yet it's amazing how, under the stress of daily pressures, many firms neglect relating well to their own employees.
"I run a fairly democratic business, because I value people's opinions," says Emkay CEO Greg Tepas. It should be a no-brainer that employees who feel valued themselves project a sense of enthusiasm and confidence to their customers. Yet the communications techniques that develop and maintain internal solidarity can be slighted under outside pressures. Good PR people should be advising, "Don't let that happen."
One great technique in a company we worked for were the monthly meetings of a "diagonal communications team" that were attended by a cross-section of employees from the CEO to departmental secretaries. Through the team members themselves and an employee newsletter timely information and guidance circulated around the company. There wasn't any doubt about what it stood for, or what it expected of its employees. And their confidence in the organization spread externally.
So spread the word — good PR begins with strong, confidence-building internal relationships and enlightened, well-explained and understood corporate policies.
Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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