THE COMMUNICATION WEAPON NO TIER OF GOVERNMENT CAN IGNORE THIS YEAR
By Dr Neryl East, one of our Commtractors and a Certified Speaking Professional. Dr East has spoken at conferences all over the world, and is an expert on media, credibility and reputation. She shows leaders and teams how to stand out, accelerate success and avoid costly reputation mistakes.
Here we are in 2019, where the communication landscape includes all manner of technological wonders to keep us distracted as we chase shiny objects.
What many government agencies – federal, state and local – continue to overlook is that great communication is an inside job. If you want outstanding relationships with your external audiences, focus first on your own people.
Often, internal communication is like that unfortunate relative no one wants to sit near at Christmas dinner. We know it’s important, but we don’t want to have to entertain it or be responsible for it.
Yet, research such as the Edelman Trust Barometer shows your own staff are considered highly credible sources when talking about your organisation to the outside world – more credible than your CEO or other officials.
In other words, what your employees are saying to their mates at football training or during school canteen duty could unravel all the great work you’re doing at a corporate level to build your organisation’s reputation and engage with your various audiences.
If you’re not communicating with your own staff clearly and effectively, you’re missing the chance to harness your number one PR weapon. Even worse, you’re creating a risk that these highly influential, credible individuals will communicate about your agency in a negative way.
It makes great sense, then, to take a “staff first” approach to communication. While you mightn’t realistically expect your teams to go out and spruik positive messages about your council or agency, putting more energy into internal communication will at least mean they’re better informed.
I’ve recently been working with an agency on strengthening their internal communication focus. We found staff have three key needs when it comes to getting better information within their organisation’s walls:
1. Belonging – they want to feel part of the big picture
2. Mobilising – they need the right information so they can do their job
3. Representing – for the most part, they want to feel confident and knowledgeable when talking to people outside the organisation
Are you doing everything you can to empower your staff as reputation ambassadors? If not, 2019 could be the year you turn that around.