Employee Engagement and #labour – How Public Relations is adapting to the digital media landscape

Our 8th lecture of my digital media module this semester covered the topic of employee engagement. Having just finished reading; The Social Media Manifesto, I now have a better understanding of how important it is for staff to feel connected to the brand and the business, just as much as customers. Jed Hallam goes on to discuss the concept of a social business, getting so close to your market (and employee’s) that they feel like they are part of your business.

Leslie Gaines-Ross, chief reputation strategist at PR firm Weber Shandwick, describes a trend that the firm discovered several years ago: “We noticed more employees defending their employers online in the comments sections of news articles, and even learned of one company whose employees asked what they could do to help after the company found itself in the negative spotlight. Our idea to investigate employee activism was born.”

Gaines-Ross describes exactly what is meant by “employee activist”: “Employee activists make their engagement visible, defend their employers from criticism and act as advocates, online and off. As we see it, employee activism is the evolution of employee engagement and will increasingly become crucial to company success in this digital era.”

I have never seen a better example of a more involved and engaged staff member, until i read about a Twitter employee live tweeted her entire ordeal of labour, right up to the birth of her daughter.

Diaz-Ortiz, who goes by @Claire on Twitter, informed her followers every step of the way..

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Social media may enhance risk of staff publicising negative feelings towards an organisation, but it also enhances business opportunities and strengthens engagement. Finding employees that spread positive messages about a company will influence the public’s perception of that organisation.Staff have the potential to be huge advocates of a brand. Public Relations can be seen as ‘the active attempt to restore and maintain a sense of community’ (Kruckeberg and Starck). It is essential to successfully communicate values and motives with staff, before you can hope to communicate it with customers.

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