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Employee Communications Takes Center Stage

Employees. Everyone who works is one. Their role could not be any more critical to their organizations: they’re responsible for executing the enterprise’s strategic plan; they’re hands down the best potential source of innovation; and they’re the most passionate and persuasive ambassadors an organization possesses.

The payoff of a workforce empowered to drive their enterprise forward can be huge and serve as a company’s most powerful competitive weapon. Studies show that in highly engaged workforces, the majority of employees feel they can positively impact customer satisfaction and the quality of their organization’s service or products, a situation that is completey flipped in disengaged workforces. Yet, a fully engaged workforce remains highly elusive for most organizations in almost every major country on the planet, including the U.S.

As a result, employee communications, once relegated to the backwater of public relations, has become a hot area — on par with social media — as organizations seek to tap the potent power of an engaged workforce. Increasingly, companies realize employees aren’t “just another audience” — they are the company.

In the series of interviews I’ve conducted for PRSA, public relations executives from major organizations that are leading the way talk about how they are developing and deploying their employee asset to drive business success and build their brands.

From values to culture, these conversations include what’s important, what’s working and how internal communications that empowers employees to carry out organizational strategy and build their brands is one of the best ways these communications professionals have to demonstrate the strategic value of public relations to the organization’s business success.

The interview series kicks off this month with two discussions: one with Maril MacDonald, CEO of the employee communications consultancy Gagen MacDonald, on the value of employee engagement; and the other with Bill Margaritis, corporate vice president of global communications and investor relations at FedEx, on building a strong corporate culture.

You can view both videos below or find each video and additional resources about public relations’ value at PRSA.org.

Interview with Bill Margaritis

Interview with Maril MacDonald

I hope you enjoy these videos. Please feel free to share them with your colleagues and on your own blog, post a comment below on the value your company or clients derive from employee communications and be on the lookout for more throughout the year, as part of PRSA’s “Business Case for Public Relations™” initiative.

Helen Ostrowski, APR, is the retired CEO and chairman of Porter Novelli. She is on the boards of the Arthur W. Page Society and the International Youth Foundation and teaches in New York University’s master’s program in public relations and corporate communication.

6 Comments

  • Helen, this is a great post. Companies look to enhance their perceived value in the market, yet there is no way to do it without engaged employees. The research results have been clear. There is an almost perfect connection between employee and customer satisfaction, which together produce profits through customer acquisition and retention. The way to higher profits goes through employees. I wish more companies would understand that.

    • Thanks, Elliot. The evidence (like the Service Profit Chain) definitely bears that out. I think smart companies are starting to realize the benefits–after ALL this time!!!

  • Helen, this is a great post. Companies look to enhance their perceived value in the market, yet there is no way to do it without engaged employees. The research results have been clear. There is an almost perfect connection between employee and customer satisfaction, which together produce profits through customer acquisition and retention. The way to higher profits goes through employees. I wish more companies would understand that.

  • Great post, I believe that internal relations isn’t as emphasized as some of aspects of PR but the benefits should be obvious. Every employee represents their company and it’s important to invest time develop effective communication strategies with that public as well.

  • Thanks Helen for a great post on the value of starting internally when strengthening culture — the foundation of all great brands.  We find this this to be particularly true when driving a sustainability vision throughout a company’s employee base.   This is essentially change management that requires creative employee engagement communications practices.  Alignment, focus, and innovation are required by all employees when tackling the environmental and social dimensions today’s corporations are being asked to address.  

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