Employees are the Best Ambassadors

Enjoy Awareness, Credibility and Endorsement

This week, we are revisiting our previous blog post about why employees can be the best brand ambassadors for healthcare organizations.

The healthcare industry is governed by rules under a whole host of government agencies, including the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and Health & Human Services (HHS). You’re already challenged with getting content approved for your brand or company’s own channels. Knowing the implications of a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) violation or FTC misstep, why would you consider asking your employees to advocate for your company?

The short answer? The right employees are the best brand ambassadors, providing the kind of awareness, credibility and endorsement for your company or brand that can’t be bought. Consider the following:

  • Increased reach: Employees can reach patients in their social graph who might not be considering your brand – and might never seek out your website or social channels. Employees’ social media posts reach 561 percent further and are re-shared 24 times more than the same posts shared by a company’s social and owned channels.
  • Authenticity and credibility: Today’s health consumers shop for healthcare services the way they shop for other expensive purchases. Regardless of how healthcare evolves under the new Presidential administration, consumers will continue to have a lot more choice in who provides their healthcare. They are researching healthcare the way they do other services – seeking information online and soliciting the opinions of others. Half of all consumer buying decisions are influenced by word of mouth and according to one study, 92 percent of people trust recommendations from people they know.
  • Engagement: Across all industries, consumers are increasingly less interested in what companies have to say, favoring instead the opinions of influencers and the people behind the brand. A study released last year by Altimeter Group found that 21 percent of consumers said they “liked” employee posts about companies — an engagement rate comparable to or better than other social advertising campaigns at a much lower cost.
  • Addressing risks upfront and providing clear guidance to employees considerably mitigates risk: The biggest question is how to manage risk. And it should be. Once management buys into an employee ambassador plan, your first step will be partnering with your legal and medical team to anticipate possible negative scenarios and developing guidance on how to handle each one. You will need to make sure, for example, that programs comply with FTC regulations by having employees include a hashtag in all posts to make it clear that they are employees. You also will want to develop clear direction on adhering to HIPAA guidelines.

Getting your employee ambassador program up and running will take some work. But once you create guidelines and identify and train employees, our hope is that you will find the benefits far outweigh the risks.

Eight Ways to Use Your Culture to Attract Top Talent

Years ago, when visiting client Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care’s Cincinnati site, I was fortunate enough to also visit fellow Worldcom partner Wordsworth Communications in downtown Cincinnati. As our guest blogger this week, Wordsworth Managing Partner, Bridget Castellini, explains how company culture attracts talent in today’s competitive hiring market.

This article originally appeared in the September 2019 issue of Strategies & Tactics. Reposted with permission from the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).

Today’s public relations professionals need to tap into a diverse set of skills in an always-on, unpredictable and fast-paced industry. They need to be strong storytellers, content generators and masterful communicators; possess an impeccable attention to detail; be nimble to quickly and easily shift gears; have the ability to shake it off easily and get back on the horse… the list goes on and on.

Just as we’re evaluating candidates’ skills, they’re carefully evaluating us. They want the agency they select, and the clients they’ll be serving, to be challenging, yet fair and rewarding. They want the opportunity to continue to push themselves to learn and grow in an industry that changes daily.

More importantly, they also want to feel supported and valued in a team-focused environment. They crave work-life balance and flexibility. They want open and honest communication. They want to add value and feel rewarded. They also need a clear picture of what it’s like to work at your shop before they accept the offer.

That’s why our culture is front and center during the interview process. Agency leaders have a big opportunity (to practice what they preach and use public relations) to sell prospective employees on why they should work for you, starting with your culture.

Here are eight ways to use your agency’s culture to attract top talent.

Lead with Culture

Showcase your agency’s mission and vision during the interview process, starting with the job description. When you sit down with candidates, highlight the top five things you do for employees. Share concrete examples of what makes your culture different or special since most companies will tout the “we’re a great place to work” message. Leading with culture shows you place a high value on it.

Give Them a Tour

This may seem like a no-brainer: give candidates a tour. Forego the phone interviews or meeting at a coffee shop. Show them where they would sit. Allow them to picture themselves inside your walls

Use a Team Approach to Interviews

No one wants to meet only with agency leadership during the interview process. They want to meet with the colleagues they’ll be rolling up their sleeves next to. Your team can be your best ambassadors – have candidates talk to team members in different roles. Set up several in-person sessions so they can ask questions in casual, yet structured meetings, hosting them in different meeting rooms so they can get a flavor for what meetings will be like if they take a position at your firm. They’ll get a good idea of what it’s truly like to work within your walls.

Host a Gathering

There’s no better way for talent to get to know you than a low-key, fun setting like a happy hour or informal gathering. We’ve hosted summer happy hours at the agency structured around a theme. One year it was “Camp Wordsworth” and stations were set-up, staffed by our team to meet and greet with attendees and take them through a fun activity.

Showcase Your Team (and Culture) on Social Media

The first places talent will go to check out your agency are your social feeds. Make sure it includes a good balance of life inside the agency. You’ve worked hard to cultivate and nurture your culture, why not show it off on social media?

Find Out Candidates’ Strengths

Consider having candidates take the CliftonStrengths assessment to determine their talents in the form of their top five strengths. You can use it as another piece of data to determine if they’d be a good fit for the culture of the company.

Form a Culture Committee

Chances are you offer more perks and flexibility than a ping pong table, an Xbox and free Cokes. Basically, you need to walk the walk and not just talk the talk and have a team dedicated to it. At our agency, we have a culture committee that plans fun activities and outings for holidays, birthdays and everything in between.

Ask Them What They Want

Don’t forget to survey candidates and prospective employees on what they want in a work environment. What are their top requirements?

How are selling your company’s culture to your hires? Drop me a line at bcastellini@wordsworthweb.com

Social Workers Bring Help and Hope

For Them, Caring is a Calling

“Never, never, be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

What is it that makes social workers tick? With March being National Social Work Month, we at SPRYTE thought what better time to delve into some of their motivations and inclinations?

For healthcare communicators, who are often tasked with showcasing the conscience of their organization – whether through corporate social responsibility programs, employee communications, or thought leadership initiatives – understanding how and why social workers do what they do can help shine a bright light on the path ahead.

For Episcopal Community Services’ Neibert Richards, MSW, LSW, it was always about caring and people.

“I originally went to school to major in nursing, but soon after I arrived, the school decided to phase out the major,” she recalls. After that, she was undecided as a major. That’s about the time she was introduced to the opportunity presented by social work.

“The biology and all the other classes just weren’t fitting with what I wanted to do,” says Richards. But the idea of helping others was clearly a guiding force.

 

A Caring Tradition

Those roots run deep. Her father was a minister. Her mother, a teacher. There were four children in all. The family moved to the U.S. from Guyana when she was eight.

“Family was always a huge factor for me,” Richards says. “I was always longing for connections, wanting to know who my cousins are. I was the one who always had an issue when someone couldn’t come to be with the family for the holidays.”

Soon after getting her Master’s in Social Welfare, she joined Episcopal Community Services (ECS), where she signed onto the foster care program. Today, 22 years later, she is Director of Permanent Housing at ECS.

 

Changing Times

Over the years, there have been many changes in the way social workers are viewed, she says.

“I think the career path is better organized. Social workers are viewed more as true professionals.” she says.

Hopefully, that view will supplant what Jeanne Morrison, MSW, Support Services Director for Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care in Philadelphia, says is probably the biggest misperception people have about social workers.

“Lots of times, people use the term ‘social worker’ for someone who is actually a caseworker,” explains Morrison. “Especially in child welfare situations, there is a belief that it’s the social worker who is there to take the child away.  The reality is that the social worker’s goal is to keep families together whenever possible.”

 

Looking at Strengths

Morrison notes that social workers are trained to evaluate clients from a strength standpoint – whether it’s the family, an individual, or a group dynamic. The initial goal is to identify existing strengths that can be built upon to help address certain issues that the client is facing.

She says the effort is a true collaborative partnership between the social worker and the client.

To do that effectively, it’s important “to meet people where they are,” she says. “In order to identify their hopes and plans, you need to understand things from their standpoint. You can’t expect people to come to you. If you do, you’ll get nowhere fast. But if you can understand and meet them where they are, you can start identifying their hopes and dreams from that stanpoint.”

 

Next Generation of Social Workers

Emily Blumenthal is a student at the George Warren Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis currently working toward her degree in social work.

She says the holistic perspective that social workers are trained to utilize is one of the things that led her in this direction.

“As a social worker, you’re trained to look at the environment the individual is in – you need to pay attention to who they’re surrounded by, family, friends, whatever is going on. It’s important to get the whole perspective,” she says.

Blumenthal is currently in the midst of a practicum with Perinatal Behavioral Health Service working with pregnant women with mood disorders or depression, doing screenings and providing information in a clinical setting. Following this, she will move on to another practicum (focus to be determined) that will last about a year. The experience will provide her with a broader base of training and insights that will assist in a future career decision.

She says her ultimate goal is to go into counseling, perhaps working with young adults, couples, and young famiies. But she’s confident that her background and training in social work will enable her to choose from a number of options.

 

Remembering what’s Important

For ECS’ Neibert Richards, that diversity of opportunity is one of social work’s greatest strengths.

“Social workers are a lot of people who care about helping others, giving someone a helping hand to advance to the next stage of life so they can move in a positive direction,” she says.

“They’re the ones, walking the streets, counting the homeless every year for HUD,” Richards explains. “They’re the ones who have no problem going into a home that’s drug-infested, letting someone know that we have a bed here, the kids can come. They’re trying to get them to think beyond this life that they’re in. It isn’t easy for them. Social workers do it because they care.”

For healthcare communicators, when you’re telling your story, caring and people are usually good places to begin as well.