The Heart of the Matter

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Posted At: December 7, 2009 3:54 PM
by Ashley Ross

Public relations is all around us. Every day we get a firsthand glimpse at companies dealing with PR through various modes of communication with the public. Oftentimes, we forget, or overlook, the fact that those companies are utilizing pubic relations within their very own walls to effectively communicate with all levels of employment.

“Internal communications is vital for a successful organization,” said Stefanie Asin, the director of public relations at the Methodist Hospital System in the Medical Center in Houston, Texas. “It fosters trust among employees, provides information about the company and their jobs, and connects employees to each other,”

Alabama Power Corporate Communications Director Pat Wylie said, “Alabama Power uses internal communication with employees, retirees and other key stakeholders to actively communicate messages intended to enable successful achievement of corporate goals and objectives.”

By effectively identifying and explaining corporate missions and ideals to its employees, a company can actually achieve some of its long-term goals simply because no confusion is present. Internal PR guarantees this success through better participation amongst employees because everyone is striving for the same clearly explained goals.

So, for what other reasons do companies incorporate internal PR into their corporate culture?

According to an article written by Peter TerHorst and posted on the Ezine Articles Web site, “When employees are informed about what their organization is doing and recognized for their role in its success, they will become some of your best spokespeople.”

Both large and small companies must understand that employees possess the capabilities of creating either positive or negative word of mouth about a company, which directly affects the company’s reputation. By effectively exercising internal PR, a company can maintain a healthy and strong relationship with the employees, thereby stirring up positive outlooks amongst them.

“The role of internal or employee communications is critical to Alabama Power,” Wylie said. “Properly informed and motivated, Alabama Power’s 6,800 active employees and 5,000 retired employees serve as ambassadors for the company all over the state in civic organizations and churches, in everyday life and with professional engagements with customers.”

Asin said, “Employees are the best ambassadors for a company. So the employees must understand the company’s mission and values — which can be accomplished through internal communications.”

Because employees demonstrate that they are one of the main sources for external communication with your customers and the public, why not improve your internal public relations to ensure that positive word of mouth is created amongst your best company ambassadors? By creating a healthy, positive corporate culture, employees will be satisfied with the company workplace and continue to put forth their best effort toward the company’s goals.

In his article, TerHorst explains that a company should tell the employees what the company is doing, what their role is and why it is important, as well as solicit their comments and suggestions.

David Brown’s article for The Business Review stated, “Without a dedicated, effective internal communications program, an organization allows others to determine what information (or disinformation) is communicated to employees about their organization.”

Exactly how are corporations carrying out the steps suggested by TerHorst?

To communicate its messages to employees, Alabama Power uses internal PR through printed publications, Web sites, social media and employee events and meetings. These simple, yet effective, means of communicating, provide the exact solutions for Alabama Power to reach out to its thousands of employees.

Asin said, “We [Methodist Hospital System] have an online employee newsletter, weekly e-mail newsletter from the boss, internal blog, lots of other e-mails,” and social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook to communicate with employees.

The Methodist Hospital System also uses magazines, posters in the hallways, tent cards in the cafeteria, and stickers to better communication with the employees.

In his article, Brown suggests a few steps to implement a good internal communications strategy:
•“Make sure communications is from all directions. The process of communicating internally should include an information flow that goes throughout the organization.”
•“Make sure messages are clear, consistent and credible.”
•“Assure that all information is accessible, accurate and accountable.”
•“Take advantage of technology.”
•“Printed material such as newsletters and company magazines, etc., still are important.”
•“Don’t forget personal interaction. The most effective internal communications vehicles are still face-to-face meetings and small group interactions.”

By applying these processes, a company can effectively communicate with its employees to motivate and encourage them to put their best efforts back into the company. Internal public relations is simple and easily executed for any size organization. It proves to be the heart of a company’s operations because it provides positive communication with employees, which will boost the company into success. From the outside looking in, we may not notice a company’s internal public relations tactics, but we understand the importance of good communication within an organization.

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