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.