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Advocates are the new communicators

44 managing partner Eddie Gormley takes a look at the changing face of internal comms and why engaged employees shouldn’t be underestimated…

My 14-year-old daughter and I are massive fans of Coventry City Football Club. Earlier in the year, we played in the last 16 of the FA Cup away against Premier League opposition. Anticipation was high and tickets were like hen’s teeth.

They sold out in minutes online. So my disappointed daughter ‘DM-ed’ someone close to the first-team squad, not to beg for tickets you understand, but sincerely to say we couldn’t be there, and ‘good luck’.

A few weeks – and several DM exchanges – later, we were the delighted recipients of two complimentary tickets for the match.

Collaboration

To a person of my generation, this kind gesture from someone I’d never met, and who had nothing to gain from helping us, was frankly amazing. No agent, no box office, no press officer. Just two people with a shared interest, collaborating on social media to get the job done.

One of the thrilling things about working in our sector these days is the way that technology such as social media is undermining many of the old saws of IC. For example, the one stating that comms is something undertaken and guarded by comms ‘professionals’, with controlled messages going top down and bottom up.

Employee advocacy

Flicking through my LinkedIn feed the other day, I spotted an excellent article by Cameron Craig, comms expert and Harvard Business Review luminary, where he talked about the growth of employee advocacy and planted the seed for the notion of ‘inside out communications’.

According to Cameron, we’re living in a world where the Edelman Trust Barometer indicates that regular employees are 37% more trustworthy than CEOs. And LinkedIn tells us that leads developed through employee word-of-mouth marketing convert seven times more frequently than other leads.

In other words, your employees are the best people to advocate for your business and sell your products.

If brand managers and marketers are alive to the potential of employee advocacy, then I think IC teams should be too, and for a company’s internal channels just as much as for their external ones.

So here’s a simple, three-step approach from me that will help you galvanise your employee advocates:

1. Find the high-performing, highly-engaged people hidden in your teams
2. Give them the tools, enthusiasm and understanding to become passionate story tellers for your business, and
3. Sit back, take a contented sip of your latte, and watch your employees drive home your comms agenda.

Footnote: Every story should have a happy ending, but not this one I’m afraid. The Sky Blues lost 3-1 and crashed out of the FA Cup. Boo!

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