By Robyn Brown, Account Executive

Do you realize some of your biggest cheerleaders can come from inside your company?

According to a 2012 survey by the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), 81% of U.S. employees reported overall satisfaction with their current job, with 38% of employees indicating they were “very satisfied.”

Most people will agree: It’s great to be with a company you’re proud to work for. You know the feeling – You enjoy telling friends and family about your work. You’re excited to get to the office each day. You’ll tweet the company’s new product release even when you’re not in PR.

The one-third of “very satisfied” employees in your organization are ideally suited to serve as brand ambassadors, helping to promote the company’s message beyond marketing and PR efforts.

Marketing and PR teams should support brand ambassadors within their organization or client’s organization by creating a culture of collaboration (i.e. we’re all on board with the brand) and giving them the training and tools to spread the message.

Here are some go-to strategies that have worked for several of our clients:

  • Share the corporate message… and ask for feedback.

Post your corporate messages on your intranet or SharePoint site along with typical Q&A. We all need to be repeating the same version of the truth rather than 100 different points of view.

Also, take into consideration feedback from your most externally vocal employees. From their perspective, what makes the company unique? When they talk about the company with external audiences, what do they most often say and hear in response? These answers also shape your brand and message. When employees participate in the development of brand, they’re more likely to take ownership of it.

  • Give them a platform to communicate the brand.

Encourage them to write guest articles for the corporate blog and tap into their unique knowledge base. Reality check: You’re most likely not going to receive lots of volunteers right away. Rather than sending out a mass request to the entire company, single out individual people with specific requests.

For example, Chris is known throughout your company as the resident expert on advanced analytics – an area that you’d like to drive greater market share. Send Chris a personal request and even an article template and a suggested outline to make the process less intimidating.

  • Promote regional outreach.

Although your corporate headquarters is based in Spokane, Washington, you may have regional offices in seven countries, operations in another four and manufacturing centers in three. Your employees can be the octopus legs that reach into the communities where you’re located. They’re often the face of your company in those regions.

Make sure they’re empowered to represent the company well and be relevant to those unique audiences who might need the corporate message tailored more specifically to them.

  • Have a culture of great customer service.

One of the best forms of earned media is something your employees engage in on a daily basis – customer service. Two companies always come to mind for me as examples because I’m a frequent customer: Southwest Airlines and Whole Foods. Employees are friendly, they go out of their way to make sure I have what I need, and I can tell that they genuinely enjoy their jobs. That goes a long to ensuring that I’m a repeat customer.

Even if you’re a business-to-business, business-to-consumer or even a not-for-profit organization, great customer service is critical.

  • Encourage employees to talk about you on social media.

Scary – I know! But here’s the hard truth: whether you like it or not, most employees are already talking about your company on their social media profiles. Why not back them up? Offer social media lunch n’ learns to share tips, provide a Code of Conduct that defines expectations without hindering online communication and encourage them to re-tweet your company news.

Even further, require that your brand ambassadors follow your company on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. and include these social links in their email signatures. Provide them with a sample email they can customize and send to their professional and personal networks about your company’s presence online.

Allow them to be real on social media, while using their best judgment. It’s important to strike a balance between free-wheeling and over-bearing in advising employees what they can and cannot say. Accept the fact that you can’t exert 100% control of what employees will say – as much as you want to.

  • Provide incentives and rewards.

It’s important to shine the spotlight on employees who are helping to bring your brand to life. This encourages brand ambassadors to keep up the good work and also shares concrete examples to inspire others to get involved.

What are other ways you can encourage brand evangelism from within your company?