The social pressure to respond to events outside the organization is challenging, especially when employees can put their own messages out on social media. 

With social media accelerating the response time, the consequence for unwanted exposure is greater. CMOs are learning they need to be more intentional, not just of how they talk with the public, but also with their own employees.

During a recent CMO Club virtual roundtable, three CMOs — Sangeeta Prasad, CMO at Slalom, Kim Storin, CMO at Zayo Group, and Jill Unikel, SVP Employee Communications & Engagement at Salesforce — shared best practices.

Syncing External and Internal 

  • Strategy for syncing the two is critical. Otherwise, you can lose control of the messaging on both fronts.
  • Communicate with employees because they are your ambassadors.
  • Release messaging simultaneously because you know the moment it goes internal it will also go external.

The great resignation is leading to the great recruitment. A lot of the social messaging helps us recruit more effectively. If we’re not out there showing who we are, why would anyone come? I think that helps in your marketing investment.

– Sangeeta Prasad

When To Sync 

  • No magic formula exists when sync internal and external messaging.
  • Every announcement has its own factors that affect timing.
  • Shorten the time gap as much as possible — that’s the best way to control messaging.  

Protecting Your Brand

  • Start early. Don’t be reactive. Determine what the brand stands for before an event happens. 
  • Establish communication channels with employees. Get them into the conversation, when events happen or not. 
  • Determine the voice of the CEO. Which topics should be in their voice? In the brand’s voice? In the voice of other company leaders?

If you asked me a year ago, the three things I’d want to see my marketing team have would be curiosity, agility, and calculated risk-taking. Now I’d also add the idea of being connected and wanting to be a connector. Marketing is the glue that is really holding all the pieces of a business together. If we are not interested in playing that role, we are failing.

– Kimberly Storin

Internal Polling Tactics

  • Monthly polling promotes transparency.
  • It helps expose your blind spot when thinking about your customers.
  • Employees are most helpful for crowdsourcing ideas.
  • Make sure you establish expectations.
  • Use Slack channels to allow employees to share what’s on their mind.
  • Listening in real-time helps structure survey questions and other outreach.

Get Leadership Buy-In Early

  • It gives you the time to get it right. 
  • It builds trust because establishing the right messaging is about relationships as much as it is about connection.
  • It helps show how communications can be a strong partner — Especially when they see the results.

Social is a dynamic that can move very quickly, but also needs to be connected to your key messages… strong alignment is about considering who else needs to know about this, making sure you’re being transparent with information, and that information is flowing freely throughout the organization.

– Jill Unikel

Aligning Internal and External Messaging

  • Shape messaging that speaks to the roles of different stakeholders.
  • Connect their messaging to the overall brand message.
  • Your people and your brand go together. 
  • Use storytelling from employees to help create narratives that are aligned with the brand.