A recent Wall Street Journal article (Feb. 12, The Boss’s Next Demand: Make Lots of Friends by Rachel Feintzeig) spotlights how several major corporations are looking for “influencers” within their companies — those who have robust networks and clout with their peers — to assist management with getting employees on board with major changes, such as a merger, and helping to disseminate other important information company-wide.
These select “power players” are being tapped for their vast connections and deep influence among their peer group. They are a form of “brand ambassador,” someone who carries an organization’s message forward.
While not everyone is a power player, everyone connected to an organization is a brand ambassador and has the ability to influence in ways both big and small.
In the nonprofit community, brand ambassadors are essential in helping to spread the word about an organization’s mission. The board of directors and senior leadership are highly visible brand ambassadors. But employees, volunteers, vendors, sponsors, and community partners are also brand ambassadors and can play just as an important role in getting the word out about a nonprofit’s good works― and perhaps even more so because there are so many of them.
So how can an organization develop loyal brand ambassadors?
Following are five ways to get started:
- Communicate clearly and often about what your organization is doing; don’t assume people know.
- Make people feel a connection to your group, both the successes and the challenges, to create buy-in and action.
- Offer thanks to the entire team for their hard work and dedication to the mission.
- Acknowledge those select individuals who have gone above and beyond expectations.
- Show your respect and appreciation each and every day. As the saying goes, there is no “I” in team, and nowhere is that more true than in a nonprofit.
The Wall Street Journal article notes that, in the past, influencers often went unnoticed by management but that social media has changed that by highlighting the value of networks.
Nonprofits have always had brand ambassadors. The key is to ensure an organization is successfully tapping into this vast and powerful network, which is not always dependent on how many “friends” or “followers” someone has on social media sites.
The preceding is a guest post by Karen Addis, APR, senior vice president at Van Eperen & Company, a full-service public relations and marketing communications agency in the Washington, DC, area. You can contact her at email@example.com. You can also follow her on Twitter at @karenaddis or connect with her on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/karenaddis.