PR Talks To HR: You’re A Brand Ambassador!

Can you believe January is almost over? 2020 is now in full swing!
My first talk of the year was to a group of senior HR leaders.

I shared my belief that HR has a great opportunity to serve as frontline brand ambassador for any business. They can do that by communicating core values at six key moments in the employee journey. (If you’re familiar with Bruce Tuckman’s stages of group development, you’ll recognize the fun use of gerunds). 🙂  

  • Searching – incorporate core values into job descriptions and phone screens
  • Hiring – share during formal interviews how core values are reflected in the role
  • Onboarding – highlight values relevant to the position and how employees are recognized for living them out
  • Employing – ensure company communications connects their work to business objectives/success
  • Exiting – gather intel during exit interviews by asking how they believe the company adhered to its values
  • Post-exit – work with communications to ensure a constant flow of great stories

Wait. Post-exit? Yeah, no “-ing” for that, but the idea is that long after employees leave, they can become customers. I used my own experience as an example:

American Airlines changed my life. I learned what a company looks like when it supports employees, implements their validated ideas and connects them to core values AND…what a company looks like when it does not. 
My entire corporate “growing up” was done there. I learned about savings plans, sales strategy, how to hire, engage, counsel and fire employees, how to lead communications through reorgs and other changes. I learned about the importance of maxing out my 401K, about Steven Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, about Dale Carnegie, the importance of managing up, speaking truth to power, and diversity training. I think I even first learned about core values in those days when companies were using lame wording like “customer delight” as a value, but not always living out that value – like attaching the budget needed for customer service training. 
I also became a fierce advocate of employee communications — of connecting staff to core values and business objectives and letting them see themselves in the company story and how they contribute to its success. 
I went on to say…
Years after my exit from American, I am extremely loyal. The values of quality customer service, innovation, and professionalism I learned still impact my buying decisions today. I’m a customer. I don’t have to anymore, but I still fly American. That’s the kind of post-exit brand loyalty you want. 
They didn’t throw me out and we had a great conversation about it afterward. Those who hadn’t seen themselves as brand ambassadors were intrigued by the idea, so that was cool.
Ultimately, every leader is responsible for engaging staff with core values, but HR is in a unique position to lead the effort – and to work in tandem with their colleagues in communications to get it done.
Happy Wednesday!
p.s. Core values are covered in my online course, Corporate Messaging for Communicators. I’m starting a new cohort on February 25. Reply back if you’d like to learn more! 

Jennifer R. Hudson
ThinkBeyond Public Relations

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