Due to its current merger, Kraft Heinz must use corporate PR/internal communications to strategically reach their employees and assuage worries and concerns over the merger. Employees can be the most influential brand advocates a company has; it must understand the various employee segments it has and tailor messages that will inspire them and strengthen the employee-employer relationship. Questions that should be answered by an employer about its employees are offered by Willard (2008):
§ How do they live at work and what do they care about?
§ What are they feeling right now and what emotions do you want them to feel?
§ What are the actions and thoughts these feelings will generate, and how do they line up against customers’ moments of truth with your brand?
Willard proposes a shift from the traditional employee-engagement model (think-feel-act) to a new model (feel-do-think). He says that employers have relied on traditional methods of educating employees (emails, memos, PowerPoint presentations) to influence feeling, which in turn inspires employees to act a certain way. For instance, an employee gets an email about new healthier Kraft Heinz cafeteria options, feels glad to work for a company that cares about employee health, will share that positive message about the employer in interactions with others.
Internal communications that focuses on a feel-do-think model might take a more visual approach to influence feeling first. Storytelling with images, symbols, textures, colors, sounds, etc. will generate stronger emotions from the employee. These feelings will drive the employee to “do”, to be passionate about the things he/she does (advocates) for the employer. On a macro level, this will elevate how the employees think about/perceive the employer. In the long run, this lends itself to more passionate and devoted employee advocates.
Willard shares this example of one multinational client that had invested heavily in Hurricane Katrina relief efforts and shared it with their employees:
They initially reported news and results of their support in emails and postings from their CEO. It became clear that the emotional impact of the investment on employees was negligible. They then invested in a short video that captured the essence of the disaster and the magnitude of their help, which was shown to every employee. One year later, when I conducted employer branding focus groups with employees around the country, the video was still top-of-mind in employees’ perceptions of the organization. (Willard, 2008).
I think, at our core, we are more moved by stories than by emails, by pictures rather than data tables. Willard said (I know I’m overquoting him here, but I loved his thoughts on this!), “Our minds are relatively open, but we guard our hearts with zeal, knowing their power to move us. So although the mind may be part of your target, the heart is the bulls-eye.” I think Kraft Heinz would benefit from developing a corporate PR/ internal communication campaign aimed at winning the hearts of newly-blended employees, turning them into Kraft Heinz advocates.
Willard, J. (2008, November). Activating brand culture: Rethinking the internal communications platform. Retrieved from http://www.wpp.com/wpp/marketing/branding/activating-brand-culture/