This year’s IoIC Live event was all about transforming reputation, with speakers telling their stories on building a new brand, reinvigorating workforces and turning crises into evolutionary moments.
Here are three of our top IoIC 2018 takeaways:
Find your influencers
At times of change or crisis, knowing who your workforce really listens to is crucial in making sure your message gets out to everyone – and in the right way. This is particularly pertinent in remote workforces. As National Trust’s head of internal communication, Sue Palfey, explained: ‘There are go-to people who other people will follow. If you get to them you can have real cut-through.’
Make sure you take every opportunity to seek them out and form a bond with them, in good times and bad. Loughborough University’s communications team built powerful new relationships with groups they had previously struggled to connect with during their Spit Happens campaign to sign up students as stem cell donors.
Your people’s opinions are the ones the world is really interested in
Building genuine brand ambassadors is the only surefire way to protect your reputation. ‘In a crisis, credibility comes from the human faces that interact with the public every day,’ commented Rachel Royall, director of communications at NHS Digital.
Alzheimer’s Society’s strategy has focused on increasing ambassadorship amongst the workforce by making sure everyone understands its aims and is able to pass them on to the world in their own words. ‘Don’t try and do it all yourself; you can’t reach everybody directly. Think about how you can let people tell it in their own way,’ said Helen Schick, the charity’s head of internal communication and engagement.
See your people’s social media savviness as an opportunity, not a threat
As Rachel Royall pointed out about the NHS, staff are seemingly trusted with people’s lives, but not with a tweet. A number of speakers told the conference about times they had handed over control of Twitter accounts or other publicly visible forums to staff – often to the great apprehension of senior management – with no negative outcome or need to intervene. Indeed, the chance to share their experiences and opinions made colleagues feel trusted and excited about the role they play in their organisations.
Working at TfL ahead of the 2012 London Olympics, Jim Connor introduced the ability for colleagues to write miniblogs as part of a morale-building strategy. ‘Employee voice is more important than ever,’ he commented.
While a crisis can provide the perfect opportunity to ‘start again’ and put any or all of these steps in motion, the threat of a future crisis should provide a powerful enough motive for putting a new strategy into action. As advised by Ed Coke, founder of Repute: ‘Investing in your reputation is essential to enable you to manage and rebound from a crisis when it happens.’