FPRA 2012 Annual Conference: Breakout 2B, Using Social Media to Connect with Employees, Kathy Barbour, APR

By: Alayna Rivera

As PR professionals, we see the value of social media in today’s online world, however, not all company leaders understand its power and potential. Kathy Barbour, APR, says that social media is not something to be blocked by IT, rather it’s a way to interact with and engage key audiences.

Since its start in 1883, Mayo Clinic has become one of the most powerful brands in the world. Word-of-mouth has brought more than one million people to the clinic’s three campuses each year. Social media has taken this to a whole new level, allowing people across the globe to share their Mayo experiences.

Each patient and employee has a unique story behind his or her journey. Because employees play an important role in telling that story, Mayo Clinic encourages all to share why they’re proud to be part of one of Fortune’s Top 100 Companies.

Here are a few ways Mayo Clinic utilizes social media to connect with its employees:

  • This Week at Mayo Clinic is an internal newsletter with social media-integrated comments, likes and sharing capability.
  • CEO messages are sent as videos, giving the more than 56,000 staff members a real picture of who their leaders are.
  • Photos are posted to a corporate Flickr account so employees and patients can view, download and share them easily.
  • An online version of the strategic plan includes an embedded video called the “Mayo Effect,” which inspires employees to recognize their part in the overall mission. The video is linked to YouTube, where it can be shared.
  • Yammer is used as an employee forum. Similar to Facebook, it’s an internal collaboration space for staff to shares ideas and suggestions with each other.

The bottom line – people are going to use social media no matter what. Why not embrace it and encourage employees to be brand ambassadors online?

Kathy Barbour, APR, is a public affairs manager at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla. Her experience ranges from executive communications and strategic employee communications to media relations, crisis and issues management, and marketing. Barbour has worked with CEOs and senior management teams in enhancing culture and effective two-way communication to assist executives in improving their communication skills and in supporting organizational goals and objectives. She also is a member of the executive team for Mayo Clinic’s Center for Social Media. She’s on Twitter @KathyBarbour.

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