There is a new reality for corporate communicators, their job is changing, and fast. Remaining reactive in a world where information goes by faster than ever can be challenging. Today we'll tell you how what is being said on the outside, starts inside your company.
Within an organization, corporate communications is often misunderstood. It’s commonly relied upon during times of crisis but underutilized at other times. However, C-Suites are quickly grasping the potential as reported by Wendy Marx in her recent Fast Company article, The New Rules of Corporate Communication.
We followed up on the thought provoking article with a few insights on the importance of trust.
Hear us for a minute.
The big trend in corporate communications is empowering employees to talk about their employer. This used to be a guarded privilege, reserved to the executives and highly trained specialists. However, with the advent of social media we've seen more and more regular employees expressing themselves online. For the most part, this has been met with horror from employers worrying about potential leaks or bad publicity.
It's not a novel concept, external communications start with what is being said internally. If you work towards building a great work culture, if you're honest with your workforce, if you talk to them regularly about what is going on, you shouldn't be worried about what they will ultimately say when out in the wild. Start by giving every employee a voice, a profile on a collaboration platform you can control, and see what happens. That might sound scary at first, but most our clients tell us that at the end of the day, it polices itself, since people are using their real names to comment.
Transparency is the new black.
The age of the silent CEO is gone. And the phase we had where CEOs only spewed carefully crafted lines never should have existed. It's okay, people know and don't expect executives to be masters at public speaking. They do expect them to be real, and genuine. Let them use their words, their own metaphors. A CFO and a CTO will not address a problem the same way with the press, and that is normal.
What you need to do is train them to use their words in a public setting. So what if they don't sound exactly like the lines you wrote? They'll sound genuine, which is much better. A great test to see if they're ready, is to let them loose internally. Set them up with a corporate blog on your intranet (like Igloo for example, wink wink), and have them do weekly posts about issues that you would have to talk or issue a statement about. That will give your employees a refreshing perspective on things, and once you feel they are ready, you'll have a new C-Level ambassador.
Playing the trust game
Crises will happen, and you can't just send a press release and be done with it anymore. People will take to social media the second they happen, and your careful statements won't change anything. Look at it as an asset, an opportunity to have a much richer communications strategy. Imagine a world where all your employees chime in on Twitter and defend you during a media firestorm. Or if you could just send your head of engineering to any press conference and not sweat about it.
Start building a culture of messaging and transparency within the organization, and this will become a reality. The end game is about trust, this is the new form of control for corporate communicators. The message is too fragmented to deal with these days. So make sure all the actors are trained to the highest level. Make sure they love where they work. They will become the strongest asset you've ever had.
Want to learn more about corporate communications? Download our free communicators guide.