After spending three years building my resume with internships, jobs and extracurricular activities, it’s time to start thinking about the real world. I had some great feedback about the blog I kept in London, although it lasted only a few weeks. I’m going to do my best to use this blog to chronicle the experiences of my senior year, balancing 30hrs/week of work, a full time class schedule and what I’d like to consider a blossoming social life… All while hoping and praying I’ll land the job of my dreams by the time I graduate. Can I do it? Let’s hope.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Internal or External?

I went home for dinner last weekend. After a few glasses of wine, I ended up having a very intellectual conversation with my father about the necessity of internal communication and culture building vs. external communications.

He is a business operations guy and oversees a 6 store retail business. We discussed the problem of communication in his circumstance versus my internship experiences at large corporations.

It seems that every business owner wants to be on Yelp, Facebook and Twitter. It’s easy for someone within an organization to point to these platforms and ask why they aren’t there. It’s also easy to blame any short fallings on a failure to adequately utilize these online resources. It’s easy, but it’s ignorant.

As we discussed, we both agreed that all of those great forms of online media will do NOTHING for your business long term if similar efforts are not invested internally. In a retail environment, you can tweet and facebook until your fingers fall off, but at the end of the day, a positive in-store experience is what is going to drive repeat business. Therefore, it is important to value, appreciate and communicate with your employees before you can expect success with external communications. If your employees are brand ambassadors, they will be passionate about their work and their satisfaction will lead to more satisfied customers. Satisfied customers tell their friends. External communications are sexy, but internal communications are sustainable.

Just a few days after I had this conversation with my father, the Founder and CEO of a social media strategy company ended up visiting my New Media and PR class. As he spoke about all the cool things he is able to do externally, I couldn’t help but ponder the fundamental issue of internal. Naturally, I just had to ask him a question along the lines of : All of this external stuff about creating brand ambassadors is great, but do you really think a company /brand can be successful if they don’t also focus energy on ensuring employees are brand ambassadors?

As soon as I said it, I realized that it sounded like I was questioning the validity of his entire business model. I don't mean to question social media, and I am SURE I will have to be extremely talented in it in order to be successful in my career. I get that it is important, I just question how much it can do without a strong foundation of internal brand ambassadors. Fortunately, he didn't  take it as an insult, and he actually answered it very well. Because to be fair, if you aren’t online in this day in age, you are WAY behind. The internet is still necessary for driving people to your business in the first place. And in fact, the internet can be much more beneficial to driving short term sales. However, he did agree that for long term success, it is essential that you can transform employees into brand ambassadors.

Long story short, we’ve just got to be good at it all… great!

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