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The Problem with CEOs and Authenticity

by | May 19, 2020

There are some messages that must be delivered by the Chief which include things like: sale of the business, reduction in force, or your response to Covid-19. 

There are, however, some messages that just sound better when they come from your employees and can sound inauthentic when delivered by the CEO.

Letting the world know that you did your best for your employees during the COVID-19 pandemic stay-home orders is a message that should be told. Thinking about your employees and their needs IS good leadership and good business, but for the message to be received with authenticity, it’s in your best interest to permit your employees to promote it rather than you.

What You Can Do

You can, provide your employees with shareable content that shows that you did what you could to help them when they needed it, like:

  • Getting them the tools they needed to work remotely;
  • Allowing employees a degree of flexibility in work hours knowing that while they were working remotely they still had children to care for or homeschool to supervise;
  • Keeping them employed even if it meant hardship to owners;
  • Devising creative solutions to “keeping the lights on”; or
  • Making sure that if they were furloughed, they didn’t lose their health insurance.

The thing is, if the message of your good works comes from the CEO or is written and clearly vetted by PR professionals, you’ll be missing a key measure of success when it comes to delivering online messages: AUTHENTICITY.

No one is going to be able to let the world know how much you and your business went to bat for your employees during the pandemic better than your employees themselves. 

You not only want them posting on social media about how great your leadership team is and how your business made WFH possible for them, but you NEED them to let the world know your human side and how grateful they are that they work for you.

Human nature is to work with people we know and like rather than those we don’t.

Your Fears

If the idea of getting your employees to post about your business is a bit scary because you’re thinking things like:

  • How can I encourage my employees to post about my company without making it part of their job?
  • How do I know that my employees understand professionalism when it comes to social media and representing my business?
  • How can I be sure my employees will follow compliance standards when they post online about my business?

The Answer: Employee Advocacy

The answer to calming your fears and getting your employees to both expand your reach and provide you with levels of authenticity you can’t buy is simple: Employee Advocacy. 

Employee Advocacy, simply defined, is the online promotion of a company by its employees who share their support for a company’s brand, products, services, culture, and thought leadership on their own social networks. 

Does it really work? YES!

  • Content shared by employees receives 561% more reach and 8x more engagement than content shared by brand channels.
  • People are 16x more likely to read a social post from a friend than from a business or an official business representative that they don’t know. 
  • Employee Advocacy techniques lead to increased sales: leads developed through social media convert 7x more frequently than from other sources.
  • When it comes to recruiting, your employees are your best brand ambassadors and their referrals from friends who are familiar with your company because those employees post about your business and culture are 40% more likely to apply for a job and 5x more likely to be hired.

Examples

Consider the following two posts:

The first is a statement by Chairman, President and CEO of Lockheed Martin Corporation, Marilyn Hewson which clearly gets the message across but was obviously carefully crafted and vetted before release:

Crafted Statement:

At Lockheed Martin, we recognize that the rapid spread of COVID-19 and its wide-ranging impacts have caused severe disruption across society and tragic loss of life around the world. We also recognize that the global pandemic has created a need for urgent action by government, business, communities and citizens.

In response to this crisis, our company will be guided by and operate with three clear priorities. First, we will continue to protect the health and safety of our men and women on the job and their families. Second, we will continue to perform and deliver for our customers because what they do for our national security, global communications, and infrastructure is critical to our nation and our allies. Third, we will do our part to use our know-how, resources, and leadership as a company to assist our communities and our country during this period of national crisis.

In this regard, today I am announcing that Lockheed Martin will take the following steps as an initial contribution to the national COVID-19 relief and recovery effort:

  • We will advance more than $50 million to small- and medium-sized business partners in our supply chain to ensure they have the financial means to continue to operate, sustain jobs, and support the economy.
  • We will donate $10 million to non-profit organizations involved in COVID-19 related relief and assistance, with emphasis on veterans and military families.
  • We have activated a $6.5 million employee disaster relief fund to assist Lockheed Martin employees and retirees impacted with COVID-19.

These are our initial financial steps to help during this time of national need. In addition:

  • We will offer Lockheed Martin’s engineering and technical capabilities to help solve the most pressing challenges faced by federal, state, and local officials.
  • We will donate the use of our corporate aircraft and vehicle fleet for COVID-19 relief logistical support and medical supply delivery.
  • We will donate the use of our facilities for crisis-related activities including critical medical supply storage, distribution, and COVID-19 testing, where needed and practical.
  • Finally, during this time of economic uncertainty, we will continue our planned recruiting and hiring.

Given the requirement for social distancing, Lockheed Martin will deploy virtual technology and other techniques to sustain our hiring activity during this crisis period.

Lockheed Martin understands that the shared effort to combat COVID-19 and recover from its effects will be a long-term one. We will continue to engage national, state, and local leaders to undertake additional measures as needed.

And, throughout this crisis, Lockheed Martin remains committed to continuing to deliver critical capabilities for our nation and our allies, supporting job creation and economic recovery, and helping those in need wherever we operate.

The second is an Instagram post from a grateful employee who not only shows her thanks for how her company cares about her health during the pandemic but gives her followers a bit of light-hearted, authentic insight into her company’s culture:

  • facebook
  • twitter
  • Buffer
  • Print Friendly
  • linkedin
  • StumbleUpon

Which message comes across with greater authenticity

The one that appears to be a PR statement from a CEO OR a post from an employee that, without meaning to, delivers the very message you want your current employees and customers and your potential employees and customers to see: that you run a business that cares about its employees with a culture that your employees appreciate?

Next Steps

As you’re thinking about how to keep your company in business, how to conduct business in a virtual environment, and ultimately how to grow your business, you should consider adopting an Employee Advocacy program.  There’s not a one-size-fits-all solution for Employee Advocacy so for the expert advice you need to get your program going like: program parameters, recommendations on appropriate technology solutions that fit your particular business, professional remote training for your staff, and ensuring company compliance across the board, get in touch with Echo70 so when we can resume “business as usual”, you’re not only ready to get back to business but you’re already ahead of the curve.

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