3 Keys to Being A Positive Brand Ambassador

by David D. Menzies 
Last weekend I accompanied my wife to an event in Mooresville, N.C. called The Lake Norman Bags & Brews Festival. Part sanctioned cornhole tournament, part craft beer sampler, the Festival was a fundraiser for The Captain Mark McDowell Memorial Foundation. My wife was there launching her positive lifestyle company, Happy Fix. Both the Foundation and Happy Fix had something in common: the individuals sharing information about their operations were passionate about their causes, displaying positivity and energy in every conversation and getting people excited and interested in participating, whether it be making a donation or buying a product. It was a good refresher that everyone associated with a business or organization needs to understand that whenever they have an interaction with a customer, prospect, or member of the general public they are, in effect, a brand ambassador and, as such, need to "bring it" when representing their employer. This is pretty easy to do when you adhere to three simple rules.

Use positive non-verbal communication

Most everybody knows what non-verbal communication is, in a sense. It's pretty much the message you send with something other than the specific words you are using. It has to do with tone of voice, body posture, facial expressions, things like that. Have you ever been speaking with someone face to face, and they knit their brows and ask if anything's the matter? How about being on the phone with someone and having them say, "You sound sad?" Nine times out of ten, I would bet you were doing something other than smiling. It sounds simplistic, but when you smile, you send a message that others can relate to and attract positive feelings from the individual you are communicating to. It even reflects in your voice on the phone.

It seems like a no-brainer that you want positive people advocating for your business or organization rather than negative ones. Unfortunately, not everyone has a working understanding of the non-verbal communication do's and don'ts. It's not important that your entire staff have a soup-to-nuts education on the subject; rather, make sure that your entire staff understands that maintaining a happy disposition is essential when representing your organization, and mention non-verbal communication as one of the things to remember. Smile, stand up straight, be welcoming in general -- these are the basics, although there is certainly more detailed training that can be done to help.

Find something passionate to talk about

We've all had jobs that were just that -- jobs, not careers. Even in the most difficult of circumstances, there were always things that were positive, but sometimes you had to look for them. With your brand ambassadors, even if they are not 100% on board with the whole package you are promoting, there should be at least one or two things at a minimum that everyone within your organization can feel good about. Maybe it's the office environment, catered lunches, generous time off, benefits, or hopefully products or services that they can really latch onto as a source of pride.

Take some time to make a list of all the good things your business or organization does for employees as well as customers, and make sure your entire team gets input in some fashion. This is called buy-in, and it's essential for anyone speaking about your organization in any forum. Once your team has passion, you've won half the battle insofar as motivating them to become positive brand ambassadors.

Stay on message

Here's a fun and revealing exercise: bring employees into an office one-on-one, and ask them simply, "What do we [as a business or organiation] do?" Record each answer and compile the results, then share them with your main brand ambassadors. Is your staff reflecting your strategic messaging that you are putting out via marketing, advertising, and public relations efforts, or is there a disconnect somewhere?

A muddled message can sink an organization quickly. Compare and contrast your employees' answers with your strategic messaging, and make adjustments as necessary, either to the messaging itself or to the ways you are communicating your message internally. Once you get your messaging figured out and properly communicated to your entire team, everyone should be able to recite your clear and succinct corporate "elevator pitch" without a second thought. With multiple brand ambassadors advocating the correct message, over time it will proliferate multiple outbound communication streams and begin resonating with target audiences.

David D. Menzies is president of Innovative Public Relations, a PR and media relations consultancy. He is a 22+ year public relations professional with expertise in strategic messaging, publicity and branding. For more information visit www.innovativepublicrelations.com.