ISOC best practice guide - Employee Advocacy

communication public relations

From an external point of view, the “voices” of many organisations are their top management and the output of the company’s marketing communication machine. But what about everyone else who works there? What if we could tap into the expertise and communication networks of a much wider base of people as authentic, enthusiastic voices and faces? Doing exactly this – and making sure these voices are aligned strategically – is the fast-growing practice of Employee Advocacy.

Employee advocacy isn't just a tactical initiative; it's a strategic imperative that can drive real, measurable results. By approaching employee advocacy with a strategic mindset, investing in training and resources, and measuring its impact, organisations can unlock the full potential of their most valuable asset: their employees.

Let’s explore the concept and outline some practical steps to unlock the power of employees to boost brand visibility and foster genuine connections with stakeholders.

Understanding employee advocacy

Employee advocacy is the practice of empowering employees to become vocal advocates for their organisation, promoting its brand, products, or services across various channels such as social media, networking events, and community engagements. By capitalising on the authenticity and credibility of employees, companies can amplify their message and build trust with customers, partners, and wider communities.

How does employee advocacy work?

Employee advocacy thrives on the principle that employees are the most genuine and persuasive advocates for a brand. When employees feel genuinely connected and aligned with the organisation's values, they naturally become ambassadors, sharing their positive experiences, insights, and achievements.

Key success factors

  • Leadership commitment: employee advocacy often starts at the top: it should be a C-level strategy that extends to all levels of the company. Senior leadership must champion the employee advocacy initiative, demonstrating commitment to its importance and participating actively.
  • Guidelines and training: establishing clearly what information employees can and cannot share is crucial to maintain consistency and alignment. Good training ensures that employees understand the significance of advocacy and how to represent the brand effectively in their communications.
  • Technology integration: leveraging technology solutions can streamline the advocacy process and enhance its effectiveness. Implement platforms and tools that facilitate content sharing, provide analytics, and track performance metrics so that you can measure impact and make data-driven decisions.
  • Recognition and incentives: recognising and rewarding employees who actively engage in advocacy efforts is essential to sustain momentum and motivation. Implement a system of incentives such as awards and bonuses to encourage participation.
  • Continuous feedback: seek feedback from employees in order to to identify areas for improvement and refine the strategy.

Strategic considerations

  • Define objectives: ensure direction and focus by defining goals (such as increasing brand awareness, driving engagement, or enhancing customer loyalty). Doing so aligns the programme's objectives with broader organisational goals.
  • Identify ambassadors: select and empower employees who are passionate about the brand and willing to serve as advocates.
  • Provide resources: distribute a toolkit including branded content and training materials so that employees have everything they need to represent the brand effectively.
  • Encourage participation: schedule regular communication and reminders and provide incentives to keep advocacy front of mind and encourage engagement across all levels of the organisation.
  • Measure and analyse: Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) such as reach, engagement, sentiment, and conversion rates, in order to measure the success of the programme. Use these insights to make data-driven decisions to optimise the campaign.


Challenges and Precautions

  • Risk of miscommunication: clear guidelines and ongoing training mitigate the risk of employees conveying messages that are not aligned with the strategy.
  • Maintaining authenticity: encourage authentic storytelling and provide opportunities for employees to share genuine experiences. This helps maintain credibility and trustworthiness.
  • Negative feedback: put a plan in place for handling criticism from both external stakeholders and employees who choose not to participate or question the authenticity of the programme.
  • Privacy concerns: implement privacy measures to prevent legal issues for both the company and employees.
  • Guidelines: define clearly what content employees can share and what must remain confidential.
  • Consent: obtain explicit consent from employees before featuring them in any advocacy materials or using personal information for promotional purposes.
  • Anonymous participation: offer the option for employees to contribute to advocacy activities anonymously, for instance when sharing personal experiences or opinions that they may not want to associate with their identity.
  • Privacy settings: encourage employees to review and adjust their privacy settings on social media to control who can view their advocacy posts and ensure they are comfortable with the visibility of their content.
  • Data protection: implement measures to safeguard any personal information collected as part of the programme.

ISOC course links

This content relates to the following short courses at the International School of Communications, available live online and also face-to-face at our training centres in London and Dubai:

Advanced Communication Strategy

Advanced Communications and PR Management

Communication Strategy Design and Development

Corporate Responsibility (CSR)

Internal Communications

Planning and Managing PR Campaigns

Reputation and Issues Management

Strategic Communications and PR Programme


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