The Good PR of Happy Employees

First, a self-disclosure: I worked for a brief period at the Grand Rapids Community Foundation. But I’m not writing about them now because of that connection.

Rather, it’s a response to an article in MLive about GRCF being named number 6 on a Nonprofit Times list of “50 Best Nonprofits to Work for in 2012.”

I’m always a little dubious of national publications generating “best of” lists, or lists of any kind. They tend to read as “Desperate Attempts to Get Attention to Boost Our Flagging Subscriptions and Ad Sales.”

But this list, and the justification for it, caught my eye. The article this list generated gives GRCF some publicity, but that’s not the real PR value. Essentially, it shows why and how employee relations is good public relations.

Public relations is about establishing mutually beneficial relationships with ALL publics. Too many in the communication profession think all publics are customers, or that PR is all about media. But that’s a simplistic view.

Employees are the face, the brand, the essence of organizations. They meet the public face to face more often and in more ways than the top management does. If they come off as less than happy, less than knowledgeable, less than passionate…it affects the messaging, the branding, the operations, the reputation and the success of an organization.

As many men say about marriage–“Happy wife, happy life”–the same is true of employees and organizations.

Add to that the fact that good employees with the right skill sets and personal attributes can be hard to find. Any organization should have as one of its objectives to be seen as “an employer of choice” so that when they are in a position to hire, their reputation as an organization–not merely the job opportunity–helps them attract the best employees.

GRCF shows that they are doing things recommended by PR professionals and academics who specialize in employee or internal communications. President Diana Sieger speaks of the intentional effort to make every employee feel they are an integral part of organizational success. Employees speak of GRCF valuing innovation, encouraging work-life balance, involving everyone in strategic planning, and maintaining open relationships with management.


Congratulations to GRCF, and thanks for the positive example.

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