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Creating Successful Recognition Marketing with Influencers

Posted By David Layman, Tuesday, September 06, 2016

How to Generate Excitement and Develop Recognition Champions for your Recognition Program

A great communication plan is usually a major part of every great recognition program. But have you spent enough time and attention on communication’s rowdy cousin, marketing?

What is the difference between the two? Isn’t communication part of marketing, and vice versa? Well, sort of, but there are some big differences that require careful planning for each.

Amy Hurley, Program Director, Faculty and Staff Recognition for The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, says that maybe marketing should be receiving more attention in implementing and operating recognition programs. “Communication is getting information to people. Marketing comes with those influencers and champions who are taking that communication out and advocating for the program for you,” Hurley said. “Marketing is making it look enticing, making it look fun, raising the curiosity.”

And for those programs that have been in place for many years, Hurley said marketing is all about “keeping things fresh and interesting.”

So, whether putting together a marketing program for a new program or breathing new life into an existing one, where do you start? Hurley says the first thing to do is take a step back to figure out what types of tools are available within an organization.

"This would be things like the influencers – the champions – the people you know are going to use it and take off and have great experiences and have enthusiasm," she said. “And then you need to know what communication tools you have internally that will be helpful to you – if there’s an intranet, a weekly email or a daily communication; also, if there’s something that’s goes out to managers and leaders, or other key parts of the organization.” Also look at other ways people get information in your workplace, like manager meetings or other types of meetings or events. However, she said, you can’t always use all these for every communication or marketing message or you may lose credibility, “or it will become invisible to people.”

“You need to not only know what your tools are, but also look to those people who own some of the marketing communication tools and talk to them about where can my placement be, or how can I maybe have one of the three pictures you allow in this publication,” she said. “But if you have some credibility with how often you ask for placement you can say ‘I don’t always want the top spot, but for this one it makes sense.’

“Everybody’s fighting for space on these communication tools and you want to make them as meaningful as possible.”

Identifying your Recognition Influencers.

As for how to find influencers for a program within your organization, she says the best way is to look around and identify the people who are excited about the program. Hurley has also used a company-wide communication asking for people who would like to volunteer as part of the organization’s recognition activities.

“We find out who are our biggest supporters,” she said. “It’s like our own internal speakers bureau. They go and talk to other groups, go to staff meetings or help take charge of certain activities.

“We also go to meetings and talk with our leadership, show them stats and things that are going on. We ask for their input and try to incorporate it somehow so they feel like they are vested in the programming. And we have some individual talks to get individual commitments and ask for help.”

Putting it all together.

In terms of planning marketing and communications for the year, Hurley said they use a 12-month calendar which identifies the focus of each part of the program and lists all the tools that can be used in each week or month of the program. They also have a communications calendar and an annual strategic plan mapping out what they want to accomplish in the coming year and the marketing tactics are laid out within that plan, she said.

Hurley’s team markets an ongoing, nomination-based award three or four times a year. She is always impressed by the number of nominations for these awards, so they not only make sure to honor those who win the awards but also the people who submitted nominations.

“One of the things we have incorporated into our programming is we when we do a celebration for our recipients, all the nominators are invited – they’re an active part of it, because we wouldn’t have a program without those people,” she said.

Hurley has seen that the stories of award winners have made an impact on other employees. Recipients are acknowledged with awards and by telling their stories throughout the medical center and on social media.

“We really make sure these people feel special, and they are special for what they do,” she said. “When managers and coworkers thank you for a job well done, and tell you you’re doing things well, that means more than a good parking spot, an increase in salary, a promotion – that’s the main reason they want to stay, that they feel valued.”

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