Reputation management is no easy feat for any company. In fact, the bigger the company, the less control it seems to have over people’s beliefs about its corporate values and decisions. Need some convincing? Take a look at industry leaders like Wal-Mart and Bank of America, versus smaller competitors like Target and SunTrust. The perception is not the same.

As a result, many companies turn to a more subtle form of brand management, which involves creating new brand ambassadors. These ambassadors are not celebrities or niche-expert bloggers. Instead, they are the employees who work within – and have inside knowledge of – the company and the way it does business.

The Importance of having Employees Onboard

Most companies look outside when trying to convince the public of all it has to offer. But these companies often find themselves in the midst of scandal. Again – take another look at Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart focuses most of its marketing on targeting customers. Meanwhile, employees run ads asking customers to boycott the company at Christmas time with poignant lines like, “What would Jesus do?”

Recently, companies in South Africa, like Uber and McDonald’s, began to look internally for brand ambassadors. They found that not only is this cheaper, but it’s also more effective. Turning employees into champions for a brand do not require expensive stage sets, actors, and fees for broadcasting. It takes communication, opportunities for employee engagement, and yes, the occasional bonus.

Once these employees come on-board, companies can count on their voice above the din when scandal strikes. Happy employees also refer new customers, looking to satisfy a need via a service the company provides. Happy employees provide great ratings of the company on online review sites, and vote for awards, which add to the company’s brand and positive image. This further helps the company to attract the best of the best from the talent pool.

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How to Turn Employees into Brand Ambassadors

The easiest way is to free up the lines of communication. Management needs to communicate openly with employees, and vice versa. Companies who do this best include employees in the decision-making process. In doing so, employees begin to feel more invested in the company; thereby taking more than just a casual interest.

One additional way to turn employees into brand ambassadors is to ensure they enjoy working for the company. Companies do this by ensuring employees have everything they need to complete their work on time and with as little hassle as possible. Perks also come in handy; whether the perks are an extra bonus, office get-togethers, or a little something on their birthday.

Finally, companies also need to provide training for employees to improve interactions with customers and potential customers. This should be provided to everyone in the company, whether they work in customer service and sales or not. Being knowledgeable of the company’s offerings enables these employees to make better suggestions when referring family and friends to purchase the company’s goods and services.

Reputation management remains an important part of doing business, both locally and abroad. While companies should certainly invest in convincing the masses, the real marketing and brand management begins internally with the people who make up the company. By training employees and keeping them happy, companies get free endorsement, and take one step closer towards a bigger, better brand.

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Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5W Public Relations, one of the largest independently-owned PR firms in the United States. With over 20 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America's most prolific and well-respected Public Relations professionals. Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company's growth, overseeing more than 175 professionals in the company's headquarters in midtown Manhattan. With clients spanning corporate, technology, consumer and crisis, in addition to digital marketing and public affairs capabilities, 5WPR is regularly recognized as an industry leader and has been named "PR Agency of the Year" by the American Business Awards on multiple occasions. Throughout his career, Torossian has worked with some of the world's most visible companies, brands and organizations. His strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards 2020 Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, Metropolitan Magazine's Most Influential New Yorker, and a 2020 Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider. Torossian is known as one of the country's foremost experts on crisis communications, and is called on to counsel blue chip companies, top business executives and entrepreneurs both in the United States and worldwide. Torossian has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, appears regularly on CNN & CNBC, was named to PR Week's "40 under Forty" list, is a contributing columnist for Forbes and the New York Observer, and his book, "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations" is an industry best-seller. A NYC native, Torossian lives in Manhattan with his children. He is a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO), and active in numerous charities.