This may initially sound a bit controversial coming from a public relations professional, but hear me out: Internal Communications is greater than external. Here's five real-life examples:
Have you ever talked to a customer service representative and you had to tell him about the sale? This happened to me today in a popular jeans store. It doesn't matter what you tell your clients or customers if your employees don't know it first.
I used to work for a cable company that had a lot of, lets say, haters. When I would wear a branded jacket or polo shirt out in public I would be approached, stopped, and then the complaints would pour out. I listed and understood their frustrations. However, if I weren't equipped with an escalated resource to assist them further, I'd send them right down the same rabbit hole... and the frustration would continue to mount. Go over challenging scenarios with your employees and equip them for a successful conversation in public encounters.
I once worked on a marketing campaign that targeted Hispanics. That's a pretty broad group. We had to understand certain lifestyle cues and be sensitive to those who are bi-lingual and bi-cultural. By taking time to understand the segments within our target demographic, by geographical location, we were able to put our best foot forward in a relatable and sincere way. The conversations we had, internally, made an impact on how we represented the company. This is a reflection of the values held by those in leadership. We didn't generalize. We didn't stereotype. We were genuine. It was the long road, but the right road to be on and it was successful. In short, don't skip these important cultural conversations. A sombrero and a Latin Pop jingle won't (and shouldn't) cut it.
Hear from your colleagues. See how they're feeling about certain campaigns or projects. They were hired for their creativity, don't stifle it. Make sure those involved have a voice and are heard in all stages of strategic planning. There's value in diversity. Which leads me to my last point...
If you, as an organizational leader, aren't taking time to understand the internal stories occurring at your organization, how will you learn from those of your customers? It all starts at home, and what you do in the office can be replicated in the field. Effective listening is a practice and it can become a characteristic of your organization, if you practice and encourage it. Care enough to make space for the stories and issues that matter to those you work with and serve.
Whatever your product or service may be, communications is an intricate and vital part of its success. I hope this blog opens your eyes to the importance of internal communications so that, externally, you can be more relatable, genuine, and purposeful.
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