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How your staff could be your best PR assets right now

12 June 2020

As we continue working in lockdown, we’ve all learned to adapt, one way or another.

Charities in particular are embracing new ways of working and collaborating with others as it’s crucial now more than ever for them to remind audiences and donors about who they are and what they do.

Yes, the priorities for a lot of the general public have changed, but the priorities of most charities are still the same. Some charities are of course battling an increasing demand for their services while managing a reduction in funds. Unfortunately, we can’t hold tight and wait for this to be over, we need to go full steam ahead and start really thinking outside of the box.

Right now, audiences and donors need to remember why you are so important. It’s a truth universally acknowledged that people buy from people and this really isn’t that different in the not-for-profit world, so perhaps now is the time to bring your staff to life and put some faces to your brand.

Here’s some ideas for how to go about it…

Bring staff to life

Most organisations have a photo of their CEO or leadership team somewhere on their website. I’ve also seen some charities with photos and short bios of all their staff members, but a photo and bio only go so far. Great PR starts with internal communication and internal ambassadors – your brand ambassadors. So, let’s think about going that step further.

Whether some or all of your staff are working from home or if they’re still at their usual place of work, most of them will have a camera phone. Ask them, if they’re happy to, to make a short video or take some pictures and capture what they are doing. Ask them to say not only what they’re up to, but a bit about themselves and how they are contributing to your cause. You could also ask them to talk about a particular part of the charity, a service you offer, a helpline or current campaign. You can use this content for your digital channels, incorporating it into your social media strategy.

The faces and voices of employees are more powerful than an advert

Happy and passionate employees give an incredibly powerful message and can be far more engaging than a paid for ad. Similarly, seeing a CEO or director in their home environment can be very humbling. The more real these videos and photos are, the better. A picture of staff with their families and pets will make them appear all the more genuine whilst also hopefully helping them feel happier knowing that they are contributing to the survival of your charity and that they are valued. It can create more of a sense of being in ‘this’ together.

Remind audiences who you are and why you matter

Even household-name charities need to remind people about who they are sometimes. Through the voices of staff, you can remind your audience about your cause – who you are, what you do, why you do it and what impact you are having every day. And don’t skim over those last two – WHY and IMPACT. Share your best stories and anecdotes, and don’t be afraid to use a little humour.

This is particularly important if you’re finding it difficult to relate your message to coronavirus at the moment. Remember that your cause still matters. You existed before the coronavirus and you will exist (hopefully) for many years after we make it through this. If people want to use and benefit from your service in the future, they need to support you now.

Prioritise staff wellbeing

Engaging your staff in this way will make people smile and during this difficult time for so many people this is a wonderful thing to do. Equally, staff should feel they can be honest and show any concerns and struggles they are currently facing.

Take good care of your staff as well as you can; this is vital for your reputation going forward. People will remember how they were made to feel during this time and as Maya Angelou once said ‘people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’

Somewhere over the rainbow…

When lockdown is over and things finally return to normal following these tips will hopefully mean that not only will you have a stronger PR presence and brand, but you will also hopefully have a more engaged and closer workforce. Remember that by reminding your audience about who you are, what you do and why you do it, you are also reminding your staff. After all, what great charity is great without a great team.

Photo: Alain Pham on Unsplash

Amy Hanson-Reed

PR and marketing consultant, Freelance

Amy Hanson-Reed is a freelance PR and marketing consultant and runs Arctic Comms. She has worked in senior positions for a number of national charities in education, health, social care, crime reduction and community development. She was previously head of press and social media at New Schools Network and head of communications at REAch2 Academy Trust. More recently she headed up the press and events teams at London South Bank University.