Public sector employees – like nurses or police officers – are often more trusted than the institutions they represent. Getting them to speak out is a great way to build a strong brand on a budget.
The UK’s public sector has some big and iconic brands. The NHS, the BBC, Metropolitan Police, Environment Agency – the list goes on.
And in many instances, the people who work for these public sector organisations are more trusted than the brands themselves. So how can marketers encourage them to proselytise?
The strength of any public sector brand is ultimately based on how an organisation is perceived in people’s minds, both among those who use it and those who don’t.
Marketers have one advantage over their private cousins. Their consumers, ‘the public’, tend to support the idea od a sector that levels the playing field in an otherwise unequal society; a place where someone, whatever their background, can access the NHS, for instance no matter who they are.
But as the austerity bites, many of these institutions are facing significant pressure. From a marketing perspective, getting staff to evangelise about the work their employer does can help to convey difficult messages about the financial and staffing pressures and organisation faces, as well as promote its good work.
Patrick Tully, a partner at brand building agency Fusion Learning, says the key to getting public sector staff to be brand ambassadors is to ensure they have a clear understanding of the organisation’s vision and reason for existing.
“Every organisation has a purpose and through internal marketing all employees should be 100% aware and aligned behind this,” says Tully. “This can include improving employee knowledge of how the organisation delivers on its purpose and services”.
To really resonate internally, marketing in the public sector must be more than just logos and banners. It could, for example, focus on case studies to fuel staff engagement so brand messages are conveyed effectively to an external audience.
“The messaging must be simple, clear and compelling so it is shared and understood across the entire organisation. Marketers must ensure the messaging does not become corporate wallpaper” says Tully.