Bless it, blanch at it or blind to it – citizen journalism is here to stay. Letting the perfect get in the way of the great and overcoming leaders’ fears to publish is one of our biggest challenges in IC. Empowering internal citizen journalists in these tumultuous times might just tip the scales in our favour.
There will always be fear in the unknown. Just because you haven’t tested something fully doesn’t mean it’s not working. And using citizen journalists to enhance your internal messaging shouldn’t mean losing control of your narrative. In times of crisis, different perspectives can add colour and richness to your message.
Some caution is justified. How on earth can front-line colleagues be expected to know sensitivities or the communication strategy of their business? That’s your job. Colleagues with the best of intentions can accidentally promote factual inaccuracy, errant information and the dreaded fake news.
But arming your people with good advice on what’s helpful to share can quickly bring live updates from front-line colleagues to your audience – if they send them to you first, from a source they trust. When uncertainty is rife, trustworthy information is more valuable than ever.
Different perspectives from internal citizen journalists adds diversity to your communications, not only from the hard-to-reach areas of your business, but new faces and voices, too. That’s something that even the most well-equipped IC teams struggle to do.
Giving your people the green light to share content that’s in line with your values or a particular campaign you need support landing means they’ll feel trusted and valued. You’re recognising their will and their skill to share locally relevant news that might otherwise have been missed. Elevating the best of their content to an all-company level will be the icing on the cake.
The next challenge is to overcome any misplaced fears from your stakeholders of losing control of the story. So tool up your citizen journalists. That can be something as simple as inviting to them to your regular business comms meetings or praising their posts on your enterprise social network – the ones that are hitting the mark anyway!
Keep commenting and praising their great posts on social media and keep any fault-finding low drama – take it offline and have a one-to-one conversation with them if they’ve made a mistake.
Now is the time for authenticity, not polished content. We’ve seen many executives wheeled out to spearhead crisis communications over recent weeks. The ones people remember are the ones who seem most human.
Empowering aspiring content creators to tell the stories they see around them will surface brilliant, heart-warming and often hilarious variety in the swathe of tell messages currently streaming through your channels. You can then take the best stories and elevate them to a company-wide level – and even use them externally if they’re strong enough.
Don’t just hand the keys to the comms kingdom over to leaders in these times of need, invite the people on the ground to take part too. Ditch the stigma. Champion reactive, time-sensitive, people-led content, and leave the comfort zone of broadcasting faceless information across the business. Content by the people, for the people. It’s exactly what we’re all looking for.
Don’t let fear get in the way. In times like these, citizen journalists can be the perfect antidote to uncertainty. Need a hand getting your budding journalists up to speed on what good looks like? Reach out.