Your Secret Weapon – Internal PR

This is a guest writer post by a Service Untitled reader Joseph Wilburn (bio and link below). It’s about a very interesting way to use a less known form of PR to help customer service. Enjoy!

Getting the real prospective on how your organization is functioning is always a good thing. It is especially important in a call center setting where the organization sets the tone for communicating the right message from the executive down to the front line and out to the client. In a high volume call center, there may be thousands of contacts and each one of those needs to be the best possible one it can be. How do we create an environment for that sort of contact? It is not always possible to control the externalities that may affect your organization, but it is quite possible to manage communication with the “internal public” on your front-lines. This concept is called internal PR, an oft talked about yet continually elusive management function. Internal PR functions can give structure to internal dialogue to keep morale high, stop persistent turnover, and provide a way to measure and manage crisis situations.

Internal social networking tools, blogs and Intranet especially are invaluable tools to get the frontline talking and trading experiences. Of course, as with all networking tools there should be guidelines for decorum, but this aside, they can give access to management for suggestions, social functions, and generally enhancing transparency in internal communication as a whole. When employees have a chance to express themselves in a professional environment this helps to support and boost morale amongst the frontlines.

An environment for good morale translates into higher retention rates for employees. Plainly, the more satisfied employees are, the more likely they will stay. This is crucial in the call centre environment where training is often job-specific and high rates of turn over create a persistent learning curve which projects an unpolished image to the outside client.

Creating an environment for internal PR to flourish is invaluable during times of crisis. If your organization is perceived as a competent communicator by its employees, the more faith they will have during times when everyone needs to pull together for mutual benefit. As well, having a greased communications machine helps get the message out quickly, to the right people, in the right manner. Frontline staff need not have a complete training in media relations, but rest assured (and this is from personal experience) the media will call your number to get a statement from an insider, even a call center agent, so plan for that eventuality.

Having a good internal PR machine can be likened to eating well. The healthier the communicative process is from the inside, the better the organization will look to outsiders. That just makes sense, if your organization serves itself well, it will be well positioned to serve its clientele in the same fashion. Of course, it would be impossible to train your frontline to be PR professionals, but with the right structure and process installed they don’t need to be. They will be able to rely on the management structure to help them communicate what needs to be projected and help to protect and build upon the goodwill everyone in the organization has strived to acheive.

About the Writer: Joseph Wilburn, is a Public Relations graduate student at Niagara College in Welland, Ontario, Canada. He has worked extensively in the call centre environment, from agent to management and is now transitioning into a career in PR. He blogs regularly at about PR-related issues from a student prospective.