Employee Ambassadors in Healthcare

The Key Considerations

In conjunction with last week’s blog, we are resharing our post about important things healthcare organizations should consider when creating an Employee Ambassador program.

Congratulations! Your organization agrees that leveraging key employees as brand ambassadors will lead to better reach, credibility and engagement than your own company channels can achieve.

Scenario planning, creating guidelines, training and selecting the right employees and best content to share are the key considerations in designing and launching an Employee Ambassador program.

Developing clear guidance: It goes without saying that you must get the buy-in of senior management – particularly because of its potential impact on corporate reputation. After their buy in, your next meeting will be with your legal/regulatory and medical team to create an issues preparedness plan and program guidelines.

The development process may take several months to a year. But when completed, it will serve as the working guidebook for employee ambassadors and the internal team that manages the program.

  • Issues preparedness: Working with your legal, medical, social media, communications and HR team, identify potentially negative scenarios and issues related to employees engaging in social media on your company’s behalf. Use these findings to develop a “Regulation Roadmap.” This roadmap will provide communications guidance and responses – including messages and social media copy aligned with Food & Drug Administration (FDA), Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations – for the most likely scenarios.
  • Employee guidelines: Your employees need to abide by clearly articulated rules. The purpose of these rules is to guide employees’ content without telling them exactly what to say. Their content is liked and shared by others because they inject their own character and personality into posts.

Guidelines should include background on the company and what it stands for, program goals, the brand voice, how to stay compliant with regulations, responsible social media strategies and how to handle questions on their posts. They should also include information about who to contact in case of a question or issue.

Choosing the right employees: Recruiting employees to become advocates isn’t as difficult as you may think. You can start with enthusiastic employees who already share your company’s message. Or just ask for volunteers and triage the employees who opt in. Prioritize those who have large online followings and an online voice consistent with that of your organization. No matter your method, you’ll need to audit their social media channels to identify any red flags or opportunities. The audit will also help inform your training program.

  • Training: The employees who volunteer as ambassadors will probably be social media savvy. Still, you need to ensure they are savvy about the rules and expectations of your program, so we always recommend conducting a formal training program for all participants.

Content: Employee ambassadors should be viewed by their followers as healthcare influencers, not as a mouthpiece for your company. Therefore, most of the content you provide should focus on general health and wellness; only a third to a half should be about your company.

Before making content available, seek your employee ambassadors’ input on the type of content they like to share. The more relevant the content, the more likely they are to use it.

Via the company intranet or another easily accessible online storage unit, curate a variety of approved articles, visuals and video they can easily share and continually encourage feedback. Health and wellness content may include tips, recipes, photos or infographics developed by your company for your own channels or by third parties. While expensive to produce, video and visuals are more frequently shared than articles, so try to include some in the mix.

Keep content fresh by ensuring that future corporate initiatives and marketing programs include development of ambassador materials as part of the plan. Communicate with your ambassadors first about updates and changes, new products and other company news.

Measurement and analytics: There are many ways to measure the success of your employee ambassador program and the metrics you choose will be based on your goals. At a minimum, you should be analyzing the following:

  • Program reach: How many people did your ambassadors reach with company related content? How many posts contained the company hashtag?
  • Traffic on company sites: Was there an increase in traffic on your owned and shared sites during the program?
  • Ambassador engagement: What percent of employee ambassadors participated in the program and how frequently did they participate? Who were the most and least active ambassadors? Which ambassador’s posts had the most engagement (likes, comments, shares)?

These metrics will help you understand how active your employees are and the type of content with the most engagement – information fundamental for continuing the program – and hopefully for the program’s continued success.

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