The role of the corporate ambassador in public affairs

Corporate Ambassador

Vitamin B has always been considered the most important ingredient in sustainable business relationships. But how can companies build up this relationship vitamin in an increasingly virtual, digital communications world? One way is through so-called “corporate ambassadors” – important individuals who become visible for a company in terms of communication, thus making it closer and more human. This approach works in B2B communications just as well as in the field of public affairs.

Connect with Stefanie Soehnchen and Hark Moeller on LinkedIn.

People want to talk to people – and above all, they want to do business with other people. Trust, eye level and reliability allow business relationships to become strong and make them permanently resilient.

At present, we can no longer meet in person as we are used to, and what’s more, online meetings often only take place in small circles, so they don’t reach large sections of the target group. This is where a digital personal brand can be a good way to build relationships, at least virtually.

This virtual relationship building has experienced a real upswing as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic. One example of this is the business network LinkedIn, which has recently seen a strong increase in users: While there were 14 million users in the DACH region (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) and a total of 610 million globally in 2019, there are now 17 million and 810 million users, respectively.

Particularly on business networks like LinkedIn, individuals network with each other and can thus draw attention to themselves. What’s more, they simultaneously represent the company they work for. This holds many opportunities in an increasingly virtual world of communication.

Members of the senior leadership circle or particularly well-versed experts are usually selected as “corporate ambassadors,” who then build up a greater social media and/or media presence by regularly discussing the focus topics that are credible and individual to them.

In this way, they become increasingly and consistently visible in specific niches that are relevant to themselves and the company among an often entirely new target group (compared to the one that could already be tapped through corporate channels).

As a result, the personal network of the corporate ambassadors grows by important new contacts – and relevant brand touchpoints are continuously created, so that the brand appears more tangible and responsive to the target group and, in addition, recognition value is ensured.

This increases the chance that stakeholders will think of the brand at the time of a real business concern and can approach the people they know directly to address them.

This means that a professional, functioning corporate ambassador program can have a positive influence on all phases of the customer journey, improve the reputation of the experts and that of the company, and also increase top-of-mind awareness.

What does it take to successfully deploy corporate ambassadors?

Through the implementation of various programs in the B2B sector, the following empirical values can be noted for a successful Corporate Ambassador approach:

  1. Commitment on all sides: Such a program has very great business potential, but it is not trivial or “just done.” Both top management and each individual Corporate Ambassador must support the program and be prepared to invest the necessary resources. Therefore, participants should not be selected based on “superficial” criteria such as their rank – consider who other people (even “out there”) would like to follow. Who inspires? Who can you learn something from? Who embodies the brand in a particularly fitting way?
  2. A plan: Often, corporate ambassadors do not know at the beginning which core topics they position best. Here, it is also a question of ensuring that the topics are permanently resilient – it usually takes up to two years for the full potential of such a commitment to unfold. Here, clarity helps as to who can speak authentically about what in the long term. An overview that success criteria, metrics and return on investment are considered also supports more focused management.
  3. Time: Since these are mostly senior staff members, calendars are often very full. Nevertheless, it is important that at least some time can be invested in content production and community building on weekdays.
  4. Creativity: The most successful corporate ambassadors produce at least some of their content themselves and appear in it time and again. Participants should therefore enjoy trying out different digital content formats and also want to appear in their own world of thought.
  5. Curiosity & openness: Since digital channels are constantly changing and new formats and adjustments to the algorithm can always require a rethink, a general affinity for social media and the cultivation of relationships and communication there is very helpful. Monthly reports show what is performing well or less well and where the focus can and should therefore be.

What should be kept in mind when using the corporate ambassador in public affairs?

In the political arena, too, the corporate ambassador approach is a good way to position oneself successfully in the long term and to make oneself heard in order to increase one’s own brand visibility. The focus here is on building a reputation towards political target groups by means of various communication strategies.

What matters is that members of the leadership circle or particularly well-versed experts position themselves on the public-political debate and their own focus topics. In an increasingly digital world, this naturally happens to a large extent via social networks.

This is precisely where a Corporate Ambassador can make an important contribution to brand visibility and strengthening by communicating openly and transparently.

Through a professional digital presence, Corporate Ambassadors can draw attention to themselves and expand their personal and professional network. Their own personal brand can thus be strengthened in the long term. In addition, a Corporate Ambassador is increasingly perceived by associations, NGOs, political institutions, and the general public as an expert in the relevant focus topic.

Thinking Corporate Ambassador and Thought Leadership together

A Corporate Ambassador also always speaks on behalf of the respective company. This makes the company more visible digitally in the political arena and can be perceived as innovative and opinion-leading for a specific topic. Digital brand leadership is created.

Through content expertise, the company positions itself as a thought leader and strengthens its reputation. At the same time, an accomplished, approachable counterpart is established for political actors.

What’s more, the Corporate Ambassador is not only a company’s subject matter expert, but is also intrinsically motivated and can thus authentically communicate self-imposed focus topics digitally as an individual.

With the help of a corporate ambassador, abstract products are transformed into tangible and approachable messages, from which the company can benefit in the long term and differentiate itself from other competitors.

The corporate ambassador approach in the field of public affairs thus goes beyond the professional and sovereign attitude of a traditional corporate representative.

Through the digital construction and positioning of a Corporate Ambassador, the corporate philosophy, the contact person and the interpersonal encounter are united in a close digital counterpart for political decision-makers.

The company is given a face and political stakeholders come into direct contact with people, spirit and the company – digitally and analogously.

 

For business-relevant communication content like this, why not sign up for our newsletter “FleishmanHillard Quarterly”, follow FleishmanHillard Germany on LinkedIn or Twitter, get to know our team on Instagram or visit our YouTube channel.

 

  • Hark Moeller

    Hark Moeller joined FleishmanHillard’s Corporate & Public Affairs team as an Assistant Account Executive in September 2021. His substantive focus is on energy and climate, as well as financial policy. Hark gained his first practical experience through internships at a...

    See profile

  • Stefanie Soehnchen

    Stefanie Soehnchen is VP Digital Strategy and leads the Digital Strategy & Agency Marketing team at FleishmanHillard Germany. She brings almost 10 years of digital marketing knowledge for B2B and B2C. She is a strong strategist through years of consulting...

    See profile