Internal communications (communicating with your employees, vendors, board members) is your top priority. Break this rule and risk key losses in income and brand identity: Always make sure employees hear it from you first.
Avoid surprises. Control the message and avoid misinformation fueled by gossip. Improve employee engagement by informing employees about external communications efforts BEFORE releasing any message to the public.
Why? Because employees who are familiar with breaking news, branding efforts, ad content or any marketing communications that you plan to announce to external audiences are:
Excellent brand ambassadors who can support your key messages
Able to field questions from clients, patients, vendors, their families and the general public. This is FREE public relations! Being forthright with employees helps ensure that the messages they generate are accurate.
Confident in the organization’s leadership because communications is transparent and inclusive whenever possible
Aware of your goals and objectives. They know where the ship is headed and how you are going to get there together.
Your internal audience is your most important audience. It hurts morale as well as your chances for success if they hear it on the street before they hear it from you.
Reinforce this message with your management team, human resources professionals and board members. Keeping your employees in the dark about information you move to the public domain is the quickest way to destroy employee engagement.
Here’s a real-life example. One newly hired hospital marketing director landed a major national talent to headline the organization’s first fundraising event. (Think Garth Brooks or someone on that plane.) The director quietly organized everything, swearing a few employees to secrecy and holding all announcements about the event until a ‘surprise’ press conference. To his surprise, the medical staff and many employees were angry when they learned about their hospital’s major event from the media. So angry that many key members of the internal audience boycotted the event.
“Why couldn’t you tell us?”
“We didn’t believe it when people told us XXXX was coming to our little hospital!”
Physicians and employees disengaged.
Then there’s the one about the bank manager who saw his picture on a billboard while driving home from work.
And the one about the five industrial hygienists who left their jobs on the same day, leaving their employer without expert staff to fulfill a government contract. They left because they had heard unfounded rumors that the company had lost the contract! Yes, unfounded rumors can become self-fulfilling prophecies.
Disenfranchised employees can bruise or disable your brand. Your cheapest and best way to protect your brand . . . your reputation . . . is by being transparent, honest and proactive in communicating important messages.