Reputation Building?  Get Input From Your Employees

A strong public relations program involves establishing and maintaining a positive reputation for an organization that highlights services, strengths, and its people. One of the most impactful tools in reputation building is employee testimonials. While gathering testimonials seems like it should be easy, there actually are things to consider to get the most out of your efforts.

Before you begin, determine what you want to achieve with testimonials. Are you highlighting why people work for your company? Are you showcasing a product or service?  Or maybe you are aiming to exemplify your organization’s values and culture?

Blue Wagon Group recently helped a client pull together employee testimonials for a revamped online careers page. Our client – Acorn Health – wanted these testimonials to highlight why people choose to work there instead of the competition. We identified what makes our client different, what makes them stand out within their industry. We looked at Acorn’s organizational values and work environment as “selling points” to potential new hires. And then we got to work, which validated the three best practices outlined below.  The final result? A list of glowing remarks from real, identifiable employees, who encourage others to explore Acorn’s job opportunities.

Be authentic

It should go without saying, but testimonials need to be authentic — real words from real people. You never want to create quotes from fictional sources. Aside from being terribly unethical, the last thing you want is for a PR tool to become the source of controversy or scandal. To get organic quotes that hit points you want to highlight, guide the conversation in that direction.  Draft questions to yield the information you want from real employees. We asked things like:

  • Why did you choose to work here?
  • What surprised you most when you started?
  • How does the work you do every day impact your clients?

Develop a pool of about 20+ questions to draw from and rotate through with different employees.

Show diversity

We recommend casting a wide net, contacting a lot of employees. As employees respond, you’ll be able to see and fill gaps in your desired content.

Aim for testimonials from all staff levels and a variety of job types – leadership, clinical care, corporate roles, etc. Acorn Health has centers in seven states, so we needed to ensure we had representation across that geography. We also worked to make sure there was diversity for race and gender.

For some organizations, this is the most challenging aspect of gathering testimonials: getting responses from different job roles, locations, and backgrounds. It can often be a work in progress, with ongoing updates to improve representation.

Polish and publish

Once you have real responses from real people, it’s time to bring out your editing pen. For some responses, it may be a direct answer to a question. For others, you may need to weave together great responses from multiple answers into one statement. We were mindful of choosing responses to different questions so there was variety among the testimonials — having quotes about helping patients, growing careers, and the culture at Acorn. Lastly, review the response to ensure it makes sense without any context. Do you need to spell out an acronym or swap jargon with layman’s terms? Or maybe add a few words to improve clarity? Be sure to share your edited version with the employee for final approval.