Bit Famous works with businesses and organisations to help them communicate with confidence.
By Penny Haslam
MD and Founder - Bit Famous
Employee evangelists. I regularly speak at business events and I always make a point of watching the other speakers and listening to the panel discussions. At one such event, I was nudged by the young woman sitting next to me, who was enthusiastic about what she was hearing.
"This is great isn’t it?!" she whispered.
“I know, it’s really interesting” I replied. “Why don't you record a quick video on your phone during the break and talk about it? Then post it on social, tag your company!”
But she pulled a bit of a sad face at my suggestion, and explained:
“I would, but we’re not allowed. The marketing manager doesn’t let us."
What a shame! Because sitting right next to me was the ideal employee brand champion, going to waste.
Employee brand champions, a missed opportunity
Let’s consider for a moment what could have resulted if this keen employee had been allowed to share her thoughts:
Her firm’s brand would have benefitted (free of charge) from individual engagement with customers, colleagues, potential candidates and wider industry; measurable reach across a variety of platforms; and highly valuable content that would have screamed authenticity and passion.
So why isn’t every firm rushing to create a diverse ‘stable’ of employee brand champions, who are keen as mustard and more than skilled in using tech to spread the word?
Well, it’s that old issue of trust.
As we know, business messaging decisions are traditionally a top-down affair. Leaders, along with their PR, marketing and communication support, decide and own, what to say and who will say it.
So, it’s not surprising that the idea of letting the employee genie out of the lamp gives leaders cold feet.
Employee brand champions, a success story
When people ask me about the work we do, developing employee brand champions, I tell them the story of Rose St Louis. I reference her when I speak at conferences and share many similar examples in my business book Make Yourself a Little Bit Famous.
Rose St Louis - Employee evangelist
I met Rose three years ago when she signed up for our Bit Famous Workshop, to help her raise her profile and boost her career. With our help, she developed the skills and strategy to share her knowledge and expertise which included:
- Speaking - at work and at industry events
- Panel discussions - taking part in and chairing them
- Social media – commenting on industry-related topics and creating short videos.
Rose’s then-employer, a global insurance firm, spotted her growing profile and asked her to represent them on the media and to speak at industry events.
During this time, she won awards, such as Insurance Leader of the Year and Woman of the Year (Protection) - and she got a promotion. All great news for the brand.
She now works for a large accountancy firm, which is benefitting from her ability to confidently represent them on different platforms and be a role model for other women in finance.
Her employers have indeed harnessed the power of this particular employee brand champion – but only by chance because Rose had done all of this off her own back, driven by her own passion and commitment to her job.
But interest is certainly growing in this new and progressive approach to strategic comms. We now work with many of our clients to create and deploy a diverse group of trusted brand champions.
They report that staff are more engaged when encouraged to share their passion and enthusiasm. They also tell us they are attracting greater numbers of high calibre candidates, now it’s not just the leadership representing the brand.
So, imagine if you trusted everyone in your business to become a Rose St Louis, what benefits would you enjoy?
How to get started with an employee brand champion programme
- Convince the board: low cost brand reach and an authentic approach to reflecting diversity.
- Rethink a ‘leaders only’ approach as to who can share key messages.
- Identify a diverse range of potential champions from facilitated workshops, around raising profile.
- Hold employee forums to embed values and purpose.
- Run training on media, speaking, panel discussions, social media video, key messages and values.
- Encourage peer review and spotlight brand champion activity internally.