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7 Ways to Turn Employees into Brand Ambassadors

By: Guest | September 15, 2011 | 
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Today’s guest post is written by Amber Avines.

Want your company to attract more business, secure greater exposure, and reach new customers? Look no further than your employee base to give you that critical advantage!

Empowering your staff with the inside scoop on what’s happening, why it’s important, and how it benefits customers can be a powerful way to supplement traditional PR methods.

Here are some of my top tips to engage your employees and elevate them into brand ambassadors for your company.

  1. Break down the barriers. Employees are people. They work their hardest and care the most when the people in power remember that. Create a culture shift in your company to ensure upper management is accessible, visible, and approachable. People will go above and beyond for a company who considers them part of the team and treats them with respect. This point could be a book in itself.
  2. Communicate. Host town hall style meetings where employees hear from management about new initiatives, priorities, and the strategy behind them. Always allow employees to ask questions. Supplement in-person meetings with a robust intranet site that’s actively maintained and free of jargon. For added engagement, publish an internal blog where upper management can share insights with the rank and file in a candid fashion.
  3. Host a social media 101 class. Review your social media presence with employees, share your goals, and encourage participation. For the newbies, show them how to like your Facebook page, follow and share your tweets, subscribe to your YouTube channel. For the intermediate, tell them how to embed your company videos or use geo-location to raise awareness. For the advanced, work with them to showcase their professional contributions to the company through guest blogging, podcast interviews, or Twitter chats
  4. Treat employee bloggers like media. Have exciting company news? Why not give the story to the employees who have blogs before you pitch the traditional media! They’ll feel special scooping the trades, the info will reach a new audience, and you reinforce your staff’s investment in the company’s success!
  5. Transform employees into superstars. When you create content to share with your customers, include your employees in a meaningful way. Making a video about customer service? Use one of your reps in the piece! Discussing corporate culture on your blog? Profile how a new employee is exploring ways to improve your product! Use your staff in your promotional efforts—and be sure they know how to share those videos and blog posts on their own social media pages.
  6. Encourage community involvement. Help staff get the company name out there by caring about what they care about. Sponsor an employee team for a charity walk-a-thon, and give them company t-shirts to wear! One of your employees volunteering for a special event? Provide a branded freebie for the gift bag!
  7. Reward sharing. People are motivated by praise and prizes. Be sure to acknowledge the employees who actively, and sincerely, promote the company. Gift cards, a reserved parking spot, tchotchkes, or recognition in a blog post or newsletter are just a few ways to make your A-listers feel special.

Remember, employees who feel valued and appreciated will want to talk about the wonderful place where they work. Create a positive culture for your workers and they will become your most enthusiastic cheerleaders!

How do you engage your staff? As an employee, what makes you want to sing your employer’s praises?

Amber Avines has handled internal communications for nationally-known companies such as the Los Angeles Times and the American Youth Soccer Organization. She is currently a communications consultant specializing in engagement and change management. Amber’s blog Words Done Write tackles a wide range of business topics, with a healthy dose of candor and sarcasm.

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84 Comments on "7 Ways to Turn Employees into Brand Ambassadors"

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faybiz
5 years 10 days ago

Amber!!! wooo

Gertie finally did you a solid.

social media 101- definitely! especially for small business

yeah!!!!

Krista
5 years 10 days ago
I love this post, Amber! These are great ideas and easy-to-manage steps for any business. I’m a big proponent of internal communications and fostering a strong organizational culture, so I agree with you that it helps to have a healthy core of employees who are enthusiastic about your company to support the external brand extension. And want to know the funny thing about reading this? I had made a recommendation to a former employer (who shall remain unnamed) and actually created a program called “Brand Ambassadors” to support the company culture! But alas, it was not the priority of the… Read more »
WordsDoneWrite
5 years 10 days ago

@faybiz Woo to the hoo, Todd! Gertie? Is that a pet name for Gini? And, yep, small business is ripe with opportunity if they only embrace the new world.

WordsDoneWrite
5 years 10 days ago
@Krista Hi Krista! Thanks for adding to the discussion and for reading! I think they’re pretty easy, too. It just takes making employees a commitment. When you do, the rewards are well worth it and everybody wins! I bet your program was spot on. And, unfortunately, I suspect lots of communications professionals could share that same story. Submit something to the powers that be to revamp company culture and it doesn’t get implemented. I think the idea of culture change is just too ominous for many companies. And, sadly, many don’t see the benefit in creating brand ambassadors. But, especially… Read more »
Lisa Gerber
5 years 10 days ago

I’ve worked quite a bit with tourism clients (Visitors’ Bureau, Chambers), and one really important factor to the customer experience in their instance, is walking into shops, restaurants, and hotels and having friendly and knowledgeable staff that love where they live and want to share places and ideas with visitors. SUCH a hard thing to do, but I couldn’t agree more.

The classic example; when you ask the waiter at the steakhouse what they recommend and they say they don’t know, they’re vegetarian. LOL.

WordsDoneWrite
5 years 10 days ago
@Lisa Gerber Great example, Lisa! The truth is it’s so easy to get employees excited about promoting their workplace IF you start off with #1 on the list. Even in this rocky economy, employees WANT to help (if only to secure their own employment through increased, or stabilized, revenue). Let employees know you value them, show them how they can support the company, and most will do it happily. It just boils down to creating a culture that values teamwork, communication, and trust. As for the steakhouse, well, I’m a vegetarian. So, it looks like I wouldn’t be a good… Read more »
WordsDoneWrite
5 years 10 days ago
@Lisa Gerber Great example, Lisa! The truth is it’s so easy to get employees excited about promoting their workplace IF you start off with #1 on the list. Even in this rocky economy, employees WANT to help (if only to secure their own employment through increased, or stabilized, revenue). Let employees know you value them, show them how they can support the company, and most will do it happily. It just boils down to creating a culture that values teamwork, communication, and trust. As for the steakhouse, well, I’m a vegetarian. So, it looks like I wouldn’t be a good… Read more »
ohsodesign
ohsodesign
5 years 10 days ago

Love how you broke it down @WordsDoneWrite I find the whole brand ambassador thing interesting, obviously: http://www.chunkofchange.com/2011/07/welcome-to-the-embassy-madam/

bdorman264
5 years 10 days ago

Great post Amber; if you take care of your employees first everything else typically will work out. Those are some great ideas to help promote a fun, innovative work environment and fosters a roll up your sleeves attitude when the going gets tough.

If you have engaged employees they truly are your best ambassadors.

Good to see you at Lisa and Gini’s, hopefully they had some food left over since you came in after lunch. I’ve heard they make some pretty good stuff………

WordsDoneWrite
5 years 10 days ago

@ohsodesign Yeah, it’s interesting and effective. Small investment that can yield great results!

WordsDoneWrite
5 years 10 days ago

@bdorman264 Thanks, Bill! Brand ambassadors can play such a crucial role in today’s tech savvy world. To not include employees in your PR goals is short-sighted. Plus it has great HR benefits (e.g. happy, motivated employees!).

Leftovers? No one told me about leftovers. I think they must be holding out on me…

WordsDoneWrite
5 years 10 days ago

@bdorman264 Thanks, Bill! Brand ambassadors can play such a crucial role in today’s tech savvy world. To not include employees in your PR goals is short-sighted. Plus it has great HR benefits (e.g. happy, motivated employees!).

Leftovers? No one told me about leftovers. I think they must be holding out on me…

WordsDoneWrite
5 years 10 days ago

@bdorman264 Thanks, Bill! Brand ambassadors can play such a crucial role in today’s tech savvy world. To not include employees in your PR goals is short-sighted. Plus it has great HR benefits (e.g. happy, motivated employees!).

Leftovers? No one told me about leftovers. I think they must be holding out on me…

WordsDoneWrite
5 years 10 days ago

@bdorman264 Thanks, Bill! Brand ambassadors can play such a crucial role in today’s tech savvy world. To not include employees in your PR goals is short-sighted. Plus it has great HR benefits (e.g. happy, motivated employees!).

Leftovers? No one told me about leftovers. I think they must be holding out on me…

WordsDoneWrite
5 years 10 days ago

@bdorman264 Thanks, Bill! Brand ambassadors can play such a crucial role in today’s tech savvy world. To not include employees in your PR goals is short-sighted. Plus it has great HR benefits (e.g. happy, motivated employees!).

Leftovers? No one told me about leftovers. I think they must be holding out on me…

Color4Charlotte
Color4Charlotte
5 years 10 days ago

Empowering social media. Awesome job Amber! @wordsdonewrite

WordsDoneWrite
5 years 10 days ago

@Color4Charlotte Thanks so much, Donna! 🙂

JudyHelfand
JudyHelfand
5 years 10 days ago
Hi Amber (and Gini), As you know, I really wanted to be the first one to comment today, but I had a meeting. I came back, as promised. Amber, your seven points are well crafted. Back in April Gini wrote a post called “Two Qualities Every CEO Needs.” Do you remember it? I am pretty sure you commented. At the time, Gini asked for other suggestions and I said: “CEOs must be generous with their ideas, their vision, their time, compassion, knowledge and with the profits.” Today I think that each of your seven points requires generosity. Do you see… Read more »
WordsDoneWrite
5 years 10 days ago

@JudyHelfand Thanks for the thorough and thoughtful comment, Judy!

Number four is an idea that came to me one night during dinner and something I pitch to potential clients. Few see the value, which makes me sad. Business leaders can be slow to embrace change and seeing employees as media is a real shift in perception.

I love the idea of badges and pins. Things that instill pride are so important! As for the feathers, I’m sure you’re right and that most folks held onto theirs. Acknowledgement withstands the test of time.

WordsDoneWrite
5 years 10 days ago

@JudyHelfand Thanks for the thorough and thoughtful comment, Judy!

Number four is an idea that came to me one night during dinner and something I pitch to potential clients. Few see the value, which makes me sad. Business leaders can be slow to embrace change and seeing employees as media is a real shift in perception.

I love the idea of badges and pins. Things that instill pride are so important! As for the feathers, I’m sure you’re right and that most folks held onto theirs. Acknowledgement withstands the test of time.

WordsDoneWrite
5 years 10 days ago

@JudyHelfand Thanks for the thorough and thoughtful comment, Judy!

Number four is an idea that came to me one night during dinner and something I pitch to potential clients. Few see the value, which makes me sad. Business leaders can be slow to embrace change and seeing employees as media is a real shift in perception.

I love the idea of badges and pins. Things that instill pride are so important! As for the feathers, I’m sure you’re right and that most folks held onto theirs. Acknowledgement withstands the test of time.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 10 days ago

@JudyHelfand Hi! 🙂

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 10 days ago

I’ve always been a big believer in employee empowerment and letting everyone do things outside of their job roles, if they have the passion. I’m also a big believer in your employees being your content creators…they’re the ones on the front lines. Let’s give them Flip cams or microphones (Zoom) or a blog and let them go at it.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 10 days ago

@WordsDoneWrite WTH?! I’m not even in the office today. Blame Lisa.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 10 days ago

@WordsDoneWrite Please ignore @faybiz .

WordsDoneWrite
5 years 10 days ago

@ginidietrich Great attitude, Gini! You’re so right. If people have an interest and enthusiasm, it’s a win-win.

Companies who get over their fear and start including employees in their PR and marketing efforts will be ahead of the curve. One doesn’t need to be on the PR staff to have a real impact these days. Employees have voices, friends, fans, subscribers, followers, connections, etc. It’s a waste not to tap into those networks.

WordsDoneWrite
5 years 10 days ago

@ginidietrich Did I see somewhere that you’re in LA today? If so, so am I. Just leave your doggie bag at the reservation desk and I’m swing by to get it 😉

WordsDoneWrite
5 years 10 days ago

@ginidietrich Did I see somewhere that you’re in LA today? If so, so am I. Just leave your doggie bag at the reservation desk and I’ll swing by to get it 😉

WordsDoneWrite
5 years 10 days ago

@ginidietrich Did I see somewhere that you’re in LA today? If so, so am I. Just leave your doggie bag at the reservation desk and I’ll swing by to get it 😉

KenMueller
5 years 10 days ago
This is a big one for me, and one I preach every time I meet with a client or speak to a group of business owners. the past two days I have met with two prospective clients (who I have every reason to believe WILL become clients) and this has been a big part of both discussions. They both have staffs that are perfect for this. A part of the proposals that I’m writing for them includes the creation of a strong internal social media policy that is not restrictive, but instead encourages the staff to become engaged online. I’ve… Read more »
WordsDoneWrite
5 years 10 days ago

@KenMueller Love it! Yes, you’re so right. Employees and customers! Doesn’t get any simpler than that. Yet, ironically, so many companies miss the mark on both.

That’s exciting that you have someone who is open to chartering a new course for their business. PR and marketing efforts are no longer restricted to the handful of people on the “official” staff. Everyone can play a role. And, everyone benefits!

Have fun working with your new clients and kudos to you for getting them on the bandwagon!

WordsDoneWrite
5 years 10 days ago

@KenMueller Love it! Yes, you’re so right. Employees and customers! Doesn’t get any simpler than that. Yet, ironically, so many companies miss the mark on both.

That’s exciting that you have someone who is open to chartering a new course for their business. PR and marketing efforts are no longer restricted to the handful of people on the “official” staff. Everyone can play a role. And, everyone benefits!

Have fun working with your new clients and kudos to you for getting them on the bandwagon!

Lewis LaLanne aka Nerd #2
5 years 10 days ago
I love how Zappos.com addresses this topic of making sure they attract the right people in the first place instead of trying to convert virgins. Converting virgins to be devoted to service is tough work. But if you sort and sift and only bring people into your culture who are driven to serve, all of the advice you’ve given here is jet fuel for an already high performance rocket. Getting Tony Hsieh’s book is a great guide for knowing what to look for when hiring. But the best thing you could do to master the ability of hiring right is… Read more »
WordsDoneWrite
5 years 10 days ago
@Lewis LaLanne aka Nerd #2 Hi Lewis! Yep, Zappos is always such a great example of so many things. They just get it. I think there’s probably two camps. New companies that can do as you say and hire the right people from the get-go. And the older companies who have a lot of long term employees who may be more resistant to change. Of course, there’s always the folks in the middle. Creating a culture is so important. It allows people and employers to really know if they’re a match before the interview process even starts. When you actively… Read more »
wordsdonewrite
wordsdonewrite
5 years 10 days ago

@Deeeepaul Thanks for sharing my brand ambassadors post, Danielle! A pleasure to meet you!

Deeeepaul
Deeeepaul
5 years 10 days ago

@wordsdonewrite right back at ya 🙂

KenMueller
5 years 10 days ago

@WordsDoneWrite well, both of these potential clients sought me out because of what they know of me. They aren’t looking at any one else. It’s just a matter of me coming up with a proposal they can afford and they like. But I love clients that “get it”. it makes my job that much easier, and I don’t have to start from square one. And for both of them, the employees will be a key part of their entire blogging and social media strategy.

KenMueller
5 years 10 days ago

@WordsDoneWrite well, both of these potential clients sought me out because of what they know of me. They aren’t looking at any one else. It’s just a matter of me coming up with a proposal they can afford and they like. But I love clients that “get it”. it makes my job that much easier, and I don’t have to start from square one. And for both of them, the employees will be a key part of their entire blogging and social media strategy.

WordsDoneWrite
5 years 10 days ago

@KenMueller Sounds great, Ken! Go get ’em!

wordsdonewrite
wordsdonewrite
5 years 10 days ago

@SmartyCassie Thanks for sharing, Cassie! That link looked dead on my profile page, so I deleted it. Could you click on it?

wordsdonewrite
wordsdonewrite
5 years 10 days ago

@SmartyCassie Thanks for sharing, Cassie! That link looked dead on my profile page, so I deleted it. Could you click on it?

SmartyCassie
SmartyCassie
5 years 10 days ago

@wordsdonewrite I had to copy, paste it and then I shortened it to RT it.

SmartyCassie
SmartyCassie
5 years 10 days ago

@wordsdonewrite I had to copy, paste it and then I shortened it to RT it.

wordsdonewrite
wordsdonewrite
5 years 10 days ago

@SmartyCassie D’oh! Sorry about that. What a pain. I deleted that tweet pretty fast, but you’re quick! Thx for the extra effort. U R a doll!

janetcallaway
5 years 10 days ago
Amber, aloha. Though I have neither had a staff nor been an employee for a long, long time, your post still resonated with me. The reason for it is because I remember both as an employee and as a business owner, what a difference it made when everyone felt a part of the whole, were made to feel that their opinion counted. Amber, to me the most important tip is to communicate. In my opinion, if there is clear and open communication, most anything can be accomplished and inspiration flourishes in such an environment. With all of the avenues for… Read more »
wordsdonewrite
wordsdonewrite
5 years 10 days ago

@zheller Hey Zack! Thanks so much for sharing my brand ambassadors piece! Nice to make your acquaintance!

WordsDoneWrite
5 years 10 days ago

@janetcallaway Hello Janet! Yes, love that! They ARE at the desks and on the docks of the company!

You’re so right. Communication is critical. More than that, though, open, honest, spin-free communication. By giving your internal communications a marketing spin, you lose the respect of employees. I’ve seen it time and again. Employees don’t appreciate being marketed to; they want to have candid communication from their top tier executives. Tell it like it is, no holds barred. They’ll appreciate the candor and the trust will grow from there.

T60Productions
5 years 10 days ago

Really good stuff Amber… especially #5! Turning employees into superstars and featuring them in company videos is one of my favorite topics with potential clients. Every company has great people working for them. Featuring those emplyees in videos is great for morale and a terrific way to show clients what kind of organization you run.

–Tony Gnau

WordsDoneWrite
5 years 10 days ago

@T60Productions Very true, Tony! More than ever, customers like to know WHO they’re doing business with. That includes the employees behind the scenes!

Employees feel great about being acknowledged and included. Customers get to meet the people who execute and service. It’s all good!

T60Productions
5 years 10 days ago

@WordsDoneWrite I always direct my clients to this video we produced… http://youtu.be/z6bUwwrVGt8

One of my favorites! 🙂

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