Q&A: Anastasiya Golovatenko: “You can't talk to the outside world until your internal message is clear”
The communication expert on why HR is the first port of call in building a strong employer brand
The advent of social media has changed the rules when it comes to the psychological contract between employer and employee – and that means both challenges and opportunities for HR. As staff build personal brands on Linkedin, Twitter and other social media, organisations are often scrambling to keep up and to build their own brands and reputations. People Management asked corporate communications expert Anastasiya Golovatenko, PR director at Dubai-based agency JPd, about why the responsibility of HR are increasingly stretching into the realm of PR.
How important is it for HR to be aware of and responsible for the company brand?
Poor internal or external communications can be extremely damaging for any brand. Organisations often pay more attention to external communications, forgetting that their employees are their brand ambassadors as well. If they don’t understand what your company does, what your mission or key values are, then it will directly affect how your company’s message is passed to others.
You can't communicate with the outside world until your internal message is clear. You can have a dream business, but unless its message is properly communicated to every single employee in your company, all your efforts will be useless. Effective communication can also build strong brand loyalty and increase the productivity and motivation of your team. We encourage all our clients to communicate their company culture and values to future employees during initial interviews, and this is where the role of HR is crucial.
For example, if both the PR and HR departments work together on development of an employee handbook, it will create a clear system that will help ensure smooth operation, promote a sense of shared purpose and set up clear standards.
Should HR professionals have specific training in PR? Or is it better to let your own PR team (if you have one) manage these issues?
One of the main objectives of any PR manager is to help his or her company develop a clear corporate message. This can be done in various forms – employee handbook, corporate brochure, GM’s statement or newsletter, to name a few. Internal PR training for an HR team can simplify their life and at the same time empower them with the effective tools of communication.
When it comes to external communications, HR professionals should be prepared to present a positive image of their organisation at all times, and PR training will help them learn the right verbal and written communication techniques to achieve this.
HR departments can have problems getting their message across if they don't present a consistent message. What tools are available to help them?
In order to avoid any inconsistency in the messaging, the key information can be gathered into an info kit. This can include information about the company, its mission and vision, key objectives, corporate values, description of the key offerings and so on.