<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=1349950302381848&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">
Podcast: Using influencers to bridge Internal and External Comms

Podcast: Using influencers to bridge Internal and External Comms

Jonathan Davies


Free on-demand webinar

Learn from the IC experts at Trimble about strategic internal comms planning and get about a hands-on model ready to use for your own IC maturity assessment.

Get the recording

51 mins read

Thu, Feb 4, '21  

New year, new podcast episode! We’re kicking off on a fresh and positive note – mindful communications, happy employees, brand ambassadors, and advocates.

Those also happen to be part of the many passions of our guest, Frank van de Koppel from Het PR Bureau. Today he’s here to look at their role in both Internal and External Comms, so make sure you don’t miss out, whichever side of corporate communications you’re on. 

You can listen or watch the episode, or scroll down to read the transcript.  Let’s tune in to 2021, shall we?

Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher


Jonathan Davies: Welcome everybody! We're back with another episode of the Internal Communications podcast. In fact, it's the first of the new year, 2021! And I think we're all still praying and hoping that it will be much better than 2020, tho, that bar is not very high, is it?

Anyway, we talked enough about that in the past two episodes, where for the first time we had kind of a panel interaction thing going on with multiple guests at once. However now with a new year comes a new, fresh start as people say. And I figured that we need to go back to the basics of what this podcast meant.

You see, when we set out this podcast, one of the biggest things that we really wanted to do was bring in that external inspiration and bring that into the world of Internal Communications. For that, I could find no better guests to kick off the year than my good buddy Frank van den Koppel with whom I've worked before.

I'm super excited that he's back here. Frank is a PR and marketing strategist with a lot of experience and a lot of really unique insights into how branding works, how External Communications works, but also where the synergy lies with Internal Communications and how we should start looking at that and what we can learn from our External Communications partners. Without further ado, before I start rambling on more: Frank, welcome! Please introduce yourself to our audience. 

Frank van de Koppel: Hi, Jonathan, thank you so much for the nice introduction. My name is Frank van de Koppel. I am a digital strategist at HPB, also formerly known as the PR agency in the Netherlands. It’s an agency specialized in PR and earned first marketing and I'm part of the strategy team. 

Most of my experiences in External Communications: I'm mostly specialized in social media marketing, content marketing, storytelling, and of course the broader digital sense of the word ‘marketing’. I do believe that 2021 will be a great year. I have lots of hopes for brands that will make kick ass content. 

Jonathan Davies: Right. I think that you've mentioned the word ‘content’ twice now and ‘storytelling’ as well. That was our angle when we initially started speaking, because we both have a massive love for storytelling, except, we've been focusing very much on how to portray that on the inside.

You've been doing that very much into the rest of the world. Now I think that there are a lot of things that we can learn from your insights. I'm really curious to hear what kind of trends you've been seeing within the world of branding, communications, External Communications, and digital marketing, that you think that we can pull into Internal Comms.

Why don't we start off with that? What have you started noticing? What do you think our audience can learn from the developments in that field? 

Creating mind space in communications

Frank van de Koppel: This is a great question. I've given this one quite a lot of thought. I also just coincidentally published a blog about social media trends yesterday, which is more focused on External Communications in which I highlighted that hygiene factors are very important. And they are always very important, but I think this year they are incredibly important. Then I specifically highlighted things like community management and clarity. Having this added value in your communication, really thinking about what you're saying, but also why you're trying to say it, which is very relevant. 

For the past few months we were living in a pandemic. We had a US election. We had the inauguration, we had Christmas, the holiday season. We've had many big events that I know with social media, it's the consensus that when there's a big conversation trending, you probably won't get in between with your brand message. I've experienced this firsthand with a #thedress for those of you who still remember the dress that was either gold-white, or black-blue. That went viral from Tumbler.

I was working for Netflix at the time and we were just launching "House of Cards" and this was the only thing that was trending higher than "House of Cards". That was like, "wow, what's happening?" Which brings me to my point that a lot of people have a lot of things on their mind. And if there's no mind space, which you can measure by looking on Twitter, what people are thinking about for example, then you shouldn't bring a message in between that you think is important. 

I think I saw one of the bigger car corporations on LinkedIn going live on the same day as the US inauguration. I don't think anybody watched because they didn't have the attention at the moment. They didn't have the right mind space. Other trends I'm seeing so clearly have become even more important. You need to be incredibly clear to your audience. You need to really think that you only have like this one second to get this attention of a person on media even. I think on Instagram, the average is 0.3 seconds for you to grab somebody's attention before they scroll through. You need to be very clear with your message.

Jonathan Davies: I've got a couple of important questions here because to be honest, you're mentioning community management, what you've been seeing on social media, and looking at Twitter to judge general consensus now, obviously within companies more and more these internal social platforms are becoming much more important and we've always advocated that when you're looking at those social platforms take the approach that a community manager would, right? As if we are talking about a community here, we've got topics that we need to discuss, we need to nurture this community.

We need to get them engaged and that type of stuff, rather than more traditional Internal Communications of sending messages. It's really about creating conversation, which was a massive shift within marketing around a decade ago. Let's say, now you're talking about mind space. I'm wondering, how do you feel about this?

I was thinking now that we're not in an office anymore, none of us really are. Most of the desk workers are working from home, and are connected somehow. Unless you're in wonderful places like Australia or New Zealand, where the virus is basically not active anymore (may that continue to be so).

Now I'm thinking when you're in those places, you're even further removed from work and there are even more external stimuli. You mentioned the inauguration. Would you say that if you start noticing that, that also from an Internal Comms  perspective, you really need to take a little bit more notes as to what's happening in the world around you when it comes to the timing of sending your messages?

Because I think that that's one of the biggest things that I'm drawing now as a conclusion.  

Frank van de Koppel: I fully agree with this. A thing we do in External Communications, especially when it comes to social media and content marketing, is always having like a life barometer of what's happening out there.

We're always looking at what people are talking about right now? Is there a moment that we can bandwagon on a trending topic to make a statement. For example, for one of my clients, we bandwagoned on World Toilet Day to make a statement about the fact that there are still many people in the world who don't have proper sanitation. We just did one with drinking water for Blue Monday as well, which is really using one of these topics that people just talk about pop-culturally and making it mean something, making a statement in there.

I don't necessarily fully agree with the office metaphor because if you think about it, we both worked in offices when the MH 17 flight crashed in Ukraine from the Netherlands, not to make it too dark and a podcast and the start of the year. I'm sorry.

But I remember everybody getting push messages from the major news outlets, and somebody just turned on the TV in the common room and everybody just stood there with their hands in front of their mouth. I do think that we still have this thing of being into part of the real world while still sitting in the office.

I've also been biased because I've worked at digital agencies all of my career. We were always on Twitter, always looking at the news what's happening. I do think this mind space has become incredibly important since the beginning of the pandemic, because people have started to worry about themselves about their safety, about their health, about their job security and about their families.

There's so much to worry about. For me personally, during the first wave, the first few weeks, I couldn't really concentrate and get to my well-preferred productivity level. It was incredibly hard. The only thing that got me got me out of that was talking about it and making a conversation about it.

I think that's part of the key factors right now, to create that shared mindspace together. When a company really addresses it, talks about it, lets you make jokes about it, because everybody's in the same situation. For example, at HPB we have this coffee corner in our calendar all day and you can just hop on in whenever you like. I use it for quick meetings, don't tell them. Most of the people actually use it to drink coffee together. They just have this moment to talk to each other and be like, ‘Hey, how's your day?’ I think that's very important for the mindspace, coming back to Internal Communications is to really think how much are you communicating?

Is it really adding something to your day? Is it really necessary to communicate something? One of the things that I've been thinking about for Internal Communications is not to treat your employees as employees or your coworkers to which you can just blurt out everything, that you expect them to read everything, but treat them like an audience.

From the outside. Treat them like people that don't necessarily have the attention or the energy to read something you think is interesting. 

Jonathan Davies: I think within that also your point about clarity is going to come in, right? Because I think that this was one of the biggest things that I learned.

I started off as a writer before I decided to do External or Internal Communications, and I think there are a lot of Internal Communicators in the same boats. A lot of Internal Communicators either have affection for, or come from a journalistic background. We love writing things, but that means that sometimes we can get carried away.

We love the way that we use language and It's not necessarily focused on clarity. It's also focused on creative use of language, entertaining, these types of things, which I think is important obviously, because that brings in attention span, but not if it's all you're doing.

One of the biggest things that I learned didn't come from copywriters or other journalists, or anything like that. It actually came from UX design – embracing that don’t-make-me-think-mindset, making your point clear, bringing it out there, and then also keeping in mind your point about mind space, the right context for the message.

Is this the right moment to send that message when a presidential inauguration has gone on, for example. I'm kind of touching on what you meant with clarity there. 

Reaching audiences internally and externally

Frank van de Koppel: You've entirely touched a point and you've also opened up. Another thing that I think is very important from UX design: A very important thing in UX design is to really map out your audience or your preferred users. You usually use personas, which is the thing we do in External Communications as well. There we create certain kinds of stories about people that we'd like to reach often in groups and we gather data about them. 

We mapped psychographics, so we think about and map out what they are thinking. What are their needs? What are their concerns? What do they do to even have attention for these kinds of things? For example, also where to reach them and how to reach them. This is something I think is widely used in External Communications: that you really think about your target audience and about what they're doing, and why your product is relevant to them. In content marketing, we often use the common ground model, which on one hand is the part of the brand, what the brand would like to talk about.

On the other hand, you have what the audience would like to hear. And when you smash them together, you get the common ground, which is what they would like to hear, and what they're interested in. Treating an internal audience like a target audience will automatically enable you to create a strategy to think about what you want to achieve with Internal Communications?

Are you trying to achieve consensus? Are you trying to get them to be more engaged at work? Are you trying to get them to exude the purpose of your company to the outside world? You have a strategy in place, do you think of them as target audiences? Then you also have arguments on the point we made earlier that you can say, ‘No, this is not relevant to communicate right now.’ when you get a request from internally.

This is something that is exactly the same for social media. As a lot of companies, I think you can just say anything on social media. The opposite is true, of course you need to think about your audience and one message that's not even relevant to them could hurt your performance there. It always shows in the data when you have a strategy in place and when you use data, which would be my next point.

You can argue with your internal colleagues. For example, we shouldn't say this because it's not relevant or the way we're trying to say this will not work. Because of course you can judge if it's important or not, and then maybe decide to make a video or a podcast out of it instead of sending a very long email that people will not breed.

We use streaming services like Netflix. We have Amazon Prime, for example, which teaches us that content is always there on demand when you want it. We call it ACE in Chronicle Communications. It's there when you want it, on demand, and when you make time for it, and you are the one to make a decision if you want to watch it or not.

Next up we use all kinds of messaging services, social media. We've learned new behaviors. We've gotten a shorter attention span when it comes to digital communications. We also know that when I write my message to Jonathan on Slack, I don't expect a reply right away, cause it's not live. And if I want that, I could call him for example. 

We've learned all these new behaviors from our private lives which were also transferring into our work lives. This is something where a lot of companies in my opinion forgot or didn't really understand this part because just having a weekly meeting is not enough.

You need so many more places to communicate and ways to communicate with your employees and also think about their attention span and if it's really relevant to them. 

Jonathan Davies: I know exactly what you're talking about and how you feel about this because I completely agree. I think that now, especially when the overwhelming majority of our communications are digital, not a lot of people are going to pick up the phone, more people will do a video call.

Now that that happened, we also need to help people in our company deal with those channels. What do you communicate when, and at which time, which channels are most appropriate? Why is it not a great idea to call somebody in a meeting? Because essentially if I interrupt your day, because I want to have a very quick video call, I'm basically saying my time is more important than yours, and that doesn't always work. 

That's why I think exactly to your point, that synchronous communication is incredibly important and getting a better idea of using those channels and helping people to fare over those as well, because some people don't like the idea of their message being around for longer than the span of a meeting.

Jonathan Davies: I'm curious if you've got some tips on how we could help people overcome this, or at least, give them some tools to deal with these new channels. This seems to be popping up like mushrooms now. 

Frank van de Koppel: This is a great question. Let's start with the first point. For External Communications, everything you say and put out on the internet will stay there, will be interpreted by people and can be taken out of the context and used in another way. If you don't feel secure to, or if you're scared to say something, you probably shouldn't say it because you have a reason to be scared of the reaction of your audience.

Really think about what you're trying to say. Is it connected to your values? Is it part of your purpose? Is it really that important to communicate it that way? I also strongly believe that if you say something in a meeting, it can still be taken out of context or people can take offense in something.

Another part that I think is important here is to use data. Which we've used in External Communications for decades is to really measure how people are connecting with their brand. How's their attention span because we can measure on most platforms what’s their retention, so we can measure how long they watch a video, for example, or in most platforms, how long they've read a blog. 

Take these data points and try to use them internally. Most internal systems also allow for some kind of data. I know Slack is amazing with data. You can see exactly who slacks the most and who doesn't slack a lot, also in which group channels, for example. That shows you who are the most engaged employees, which is exactly what you would like for Internal Communications to talk to those people, because they are obviously spreading the word and obviously talking to you. A great way to use one of the content marketing principles in your Internal Communications is to just measure, for example, an eternal blog – how many people have read it? How many people engaged with it? Then look at the learnings – was it clear enough? If it wasn’t, maybe ask a small peer group if they understood what you’re trying to say or if it’s relevant to them? And really use data to optimize your message and see if your audience is even interested. That will also help you to get more insights, to make you less scared to say something internally, because if it interests them or not. 

Measuring employee engagement vs measuring happiness

Jonathan Davies: I think that you've touched upon an interesting point that we've been trying to advocate for a while, because if I'm gathering you correctly, what you're saying is ‘yes, you need to look at the amount of people that read it, the likes and those types of stuff, the basic behavioral KPIs as we would call them. But then you need to actually find out if that led to an increased understanding of the topic that you were talking about or anything like that.

You're not looking at outputs, which are just eyeballs and likes and stuff, but you're taking it a step further into the more strategic realm of did this increase my audience's understanding of something. To make this a little bit less floaty, let's say that we just released a kick-off to the year 2021. We released an article and we've defined three strategic priorities for the year 2021. Now, if I'm going to use Frank's content marketing principle, that would basically mean that I'm putting this article live in my internal platform, whatever that may be. People read this article.

I'm going to take a sample size of the people that have read this article, and then I'm going to ask them, ‘hey, now that you've read this, do you actually understand those free things better? Will this help you in your daily work? Did this contribute to your overall sense of being an employee at company XYZ?

Am I saying this right? Or am I being far too blunt and not nuanced enough? 

Frank van de Koppel: I think this is a very good way, especially for a small to mid-sized company to measure if people are even interested in what you're trying to say. Because the audience size is not big enough for bigger companies.

I would recommend to all companies something we do in PR a lot, which is do baseline research. Research what the attitudes of people are. Do they even know about your brand, for example, and what do they think about your brand or specifically what do they think about a certain topic and why is that a problem.

We often do bigger survey groups. We of course do qualitative interviews and we have a lot of research points which you can do internally as well. You can just send out a survey. The place where Jonathan and I worked together, we had a bi-weekly happiness survey in which we often get questions like ‘Do you still recognize the company's purpose in the daily work you do?’ or ‘Do you feel heard during discussions or during meetings?’ 

Then of course the bi-weekly happiness score: ‘How happy are you actually?’ and ‘What is this affected by?’ By doing that you gather a lot of insights and then you can tackle them as communications problems. For example, when people don't feel the purpose as much as you would like them to, or they don't recognize it during their daily work, this could be seen as a communications problem.

Then you can then strategize, look at the audiences, gather more data and come up with a more creative approach to tackle this, instead of just sending another email or scheduling another all company meeting. Doing a baseline study is time-consuming of course, but it helps you before you're trying to send out a message.

Then of course afterwards, after your campaign internally, you would need to do another study within a similar group to see if the metrics increased, if people do recognize their purpose right now. If it's still a problem, you can also look at why don't they recognize the purpose, or why don't they feel it during meetings and all these things are helping you understand your employees better and make them feel heard, which helps for a better company culture.

Jonathan Davies: I think that that's a really good point. When it comes to Internal Communications and the way that we serve people, I think every Internal Communicator listening to this podcast has surveyed their audience at least once a year and most Internal Communicators use employee engagement surveys.

I think if we look at the external side of things, where little bit external surveying has been done a little bit more targeted. Exactly, as you said, it's based around the sentiment of a particular topic or a brand or something like that. Whereas within the Internal Comms, one of the biggest problems that we have is that we take something that we call an employee engagement survey, but really what this is, is a massive survey that collects topics like productivity. 

Any questions related to your productivity, to your points.. Any question related to your happiness or ‘How well do I understand my place in the business?’, but all three of those do not make up employee engagements. We need to pull those apart a little bit. I think when you start targeting surveys towards happiness, for example, which is exactly what you're saying, that's so understandable for people.

If you report, what is the overall happiness level within our company, everybody in your company is going to say ‘Okay, I get this. I understand what this means.’ Whereas if you're going to say ‘Our employee engagement is up by 20%’, people are going to be, ‘What is employee engagement to begin with? How does this work?’

That kind of clarity, I like that approach. I like the idea of doing more targeted surveys, because it seems a little bit more sophisticated than just a general bulk and people don't see what it's for, where it's going. When you survey people to check what's going on with incentives around topics or around brands when you've surveyed people, what do you do with those results? What do you do with those insights? Because within Internal Communications, a very frequent complaint is ‘We will survey people. We will ask them how they feel about the company.’ People pour our hearts out, and we don't do anything with the results, or we are not really showing what we're doing with the results.

How does that work within your world? 

Frank van de Koppel: Wow. That's a really good question. For External Communications, we of course have this anonymous group of people who don't know the exact purpose of the study. Of course they understand it's kind of a baseline. They will probably understand it's for a certain brand, but they don't have the same connection to the brand as an employee at a company. 

When I have the exact same feeling when I pour out my heart in the internal survey or into 360 feedback things, and I don't hear back it's almost like this because the company is also an entity.

Your employer is also a brand which is this entity in your head, which almost feels like a person. Where if for example Jonathan would ask me to give a lot of input and I would never hear back, then I would be unhappy. I would just think why?

Because you have a relationship of course. And it's the same with your employer. You have this relationship, which goes both ways, and actually sharing the metrics, for example, would be a way to say that. For External Communications, when we do communications research in order to figure stuff out to gather insights, we never share that of course, but the result would be to campaign, or it would be the ongoing communications or content that we create to get the value in a certain way. 

They get the thing that we've asked them for. Then there's the other research which we do a lot of PR to try to really uncover society's problems and to see where there's a problem. There are many groups that have different problems that need to be heard and then you'd need to uncover those. In a way we always give back in our campaigns, and that research would almost be literally published by publishers or journalists as it would really serve a lot of value for people to know what's going on in society. And if people are mistreated for example, or if there's discrimination.

Internally, however, the data you get is a bit different of course. You're not trying to make a big statement because you want to keep everybody engaged. You want to keep everybody there, but I do believe sharing data like a happiness score is incredibly important. And the way Jonathan described us just now is really exactly working in targeted communications.

Instead of sharing the employee engagement survey results, which people would think, ‘Why is this even relevant to me?’ If I would work at the front desk, for example, it'd be like ‘What am I supposed to do with this? How does this affect my daily job or dating life or even my happiness?’, but if you share the happiness score of the company and what is the productivity level, and what is the impact, and really pack this up as a message to be understood by all the different target audiences that your company, you will be heard, and people will be understood and will feel heard as well, and they will feel progress. 

They feel as though the story of your company is progressing and they are a part of it. In internal branding projects, which are among my favorite projects to do, we always do internal surveys at a company. We always do peer groups. We always implement interviews. In fact, when Jonathan and I worked together, we also worked under brands of the company together and one of the bigger things that we did was talking to the people inside because they are essentially what makes up your brand. They are the people who talk to the outside world at birthday parties, they explain what they're doing. When they tell with pride that they have something to tell they're working on a better world, for example, or anything that they're working on, other people will feel the same and that will increase the appreciation of the company. 

The difference between brand ambassadors and brand advocates 

Jonathan Davies: Yes. Now you're diving into the topic that we luckily still have some time to touch upon because I thought this was really interesting. And I think that this is one of the biggest trends for 2021 within Internal Communications.

We had a chat about this. We were approaching the typical thought leadership and we were talking about this very famous saying that within External Communications everybody wants to be a full leader, but within Internal Communications, a lot of people use the term subject matter expert (SME), which to me is just an informal thought leader, essentially.

I think one of the things that you've said before when we’ve had this discussion. When it comes to branding, there are no better brand ambassadors or social apps buckets then your own employees, right? Let's empower those people that know so much to actually talk about things that. Have you done any of these projects before? To really look at the experts from the inside and spotlighting them outside? 

Frank van de Koppel: Yes. In fact these are also among my favorite projects of the past few years. The entire industry is walking towards either thought leadership or more entertainment, communications, and doing different things. Executives, as you just said, are thought leaders, experts and innovators in their topic, in their field, and they are the ones that can connect the dots.

The ones that you look for when looking for information or when you look at the industry standard. For example, I look at one of the people that influenced my work a lot, which is the CEO and the founder of the company I work at. She is a thought leader for me, and she's one of the thought leaders of our company. She always strongly says that everybody at our company could be a thought leader or is an advocate for the company. I just had a discussion yesterday about brand ambassadors versus brand advocates. When I talk about this in theory, brand ambassadors are the ones that you pay to talk about you and to be happy.

They often have a bigger audience as the semi-celebrities or big celebrities. But you do know that they're being paid for it as a lot of laws now say that you have to. Advocates on the other hand, are the people that put in the effort to do that for free. What'd you get in return is of course, the law from the brand, and they sometimes get incentives in a way of being invited to the launch of a new car model or to get an exclusive look inside the factory, right inside the thinking process of a brand.

Everybody could be an advocate for their company. Everybody should be an advocate for their company, especially when you work in a certain industry, which is what we do, probably most of the listeners. We are always talking to our partners. We're talking internally, we're talking to many external audiences and you should always advocate for your company.

You're telling the story in your own way, adding your own vision to it, adding your own passion to it. That's something you need to nurture. That's something you need to build, you need to stimulate. To get back to the question, if I've worked on certain projects I've actually worked on corporate influencer guidelines projects for bigger automotive corporations which was a kind of program to motivate people that would like to talk to the outside world in a form of advocates for the company. They were motivated for it, they get the materials for it, they have the rules. This was a German company, so there were also rules about who owns the content, what you're allowed to say, and other data regulations. 

Jonathan Davies: Actually I'm going to stop you there because corporate influencer guidelines are a really interesting point that I hadn't necessarily thought of. I think it's becoming more important now to create communications policies with the mushroom explosion of channels that we already previously discussed. But if you're looking at a real social or brand advocacy program (depending on how you want to call it), to highlight those interfaith leaders, I think that giving them some guidelines would also really help. Of course I understand that you can't give away the exact guidelines for the clients that you have worked for, but when it comes to setting up those guidelines, how do you approach that? Because what I'm worried about is when we start setting up those guidelines is that people feel restricted rather than empowered.

How did you deal with that?

Frank van de Koppel: It starts with the word ‘policy’. I really dislike that word because it implies that you're not allowed to do certain things. We're in fact with guidelines. I also don't really like that word because it still feels like you have to do something in a certain way. I'm currently working on a project with rules of engagement, still the word rules is still a bit prohibited. It's important to have clarity and to understand what I am allowed to do? Where? This is also expectation management.

Is somebody really gonna reply to my Slack message in about three minutes? Should I call somebody if they didn't reply to an email within the hour or what is the right channel to get something done? I'm a big fan of the Eisenhower quadrant or matrix which has access with importance and urgency. And then you have the square, which says urgent and important things to do.

It's often in my opinion misused by organizational experts that you're only prioritizing your workload based on the urgent and important things. I actually believe that you need to stay in the middle and you also need to do non-urgent and non-important things like learning, reading an article and things that do not necessarily tackle a tie into your workload.

Using this in Internal Communications and really teaching people how to communicate is incredibly important, but do this in a motivating way. Don't prohibit them, give them the tools to play. Rules of engagement should be something that grows. This same is for those corporate guidelines – you need to give them the tools to get done, to work on their passions.

Jonathan Davies: I like that. I think that the term tools is a lot less scary in a way. I mean, if I'm an employee for a large company and my company approaches me and says, ‘We would really love it if you could speak about all of your knowledge on our behalf, but here are the 15 million rules that you need to adhere to.’ That's maybe a little bit difficult, but here are our tools for that. Then I will feel ‘Oh, actually, they're helping me to do this!’ And I'd really like to, because I love having the spotlights on, in this case, my bolt head, for example. I think that would really work. 

Frank van de Koppel: When implementing this, I would always try to take it a step further and offer training to employees. NPR, for example, we do a lot of media training to get people fit to talk to journalists to ask very complicated questions. But training internally, offering them videos, offering them material, offering them a waste to create content from material that you provide to them and really helping them do the thing that they want to do because in the end it will help your company internally and externally. Internal thought leaders are a topic I haven't worked that much on, but I do believe it's very important.

There's always these certain people in your company that you believe, ‘Oh, that's the person that knows a lot about social media’ when he talks or he or she talks about social media. You will believe anything they say. These internal experts are so important, but they are there in a wide range of topics and you know where to go.

But you need to create a platform for them to talk of course. The thing that really drives me is hearing about all company meetings for only the COO is for example, talking for 90 minutes straight and really explaining what everybody's been doing and giving them compliments on the teams, what they've been doing, where in fact, actually you should let the people talk that actually worked on the project.

This is a clear difference in PR and content marketing for the outside. We always try to be as relevant as we can to journalists and let them talk to the people they really want to talk to. In the Netherlands, they very often want to talk to the CEO, to the founder, to somebody who was the lead in a certain project, where in content marketing we try to highlight people that actually worked on it to really create the story. For example, who worked on it? Why did they work on it? And it goes for internal as well. Let your people talk. And let them be part of the story, but do help them in a way to write the story. Where Jonathan and I worked together, we had an internal blogging system in place and there were certain examples on how to write.

They were also motivating you to write often, to share what you're working on, so that everybody in the company knows that you're working on it. It's kind of a network function as well, so that I would know, ‘Oh, Jonathan is working on this and this, even though we're not in the same team’.

The thing that I really, really liked it's the TL;DR: too long; don't read or didn’t read. It is really being careful with people's time because right now we don't have a lot of time. For example, I get a few hundred emails a day which are notifications from my calendar, from Google Drive, other tools, a lot of newsletters and a lot of emails that I'm CC'd in, but really be careful with people's time and attention. I often need longer emails to write a TL;DR so people can scan, ‘Oh, it's this interesting for me or not? No. Okay. It's good to know, but then onto the next email.’, so be considerate of people's times. 

Jonathan Davies: I think that 2021, ladies and gentlemen, everybody who's listening to this podcast, add this to every message that you're sending out a TL;DR at the top of your message, whatever that is, it will help save a lot of time immensely.

Now, unfortunately we have run out of time, but this was perfect. You've given us so much food for thought, Frank. Thank you very much for coming on board the show and sharing your knowledge as the first guest and what will hopefully be a really lovely year. The sun is actually magically shining in this place for seeing it reflected upon Frank and we're seeing it actually through my window as well. Maybe that's a good sign. I certainly hope it is.

Frank, thank you very, very much for joining and I hope to have you back sometime soon! 

Frank van de Koppel: I would love to! Thank you so much for your time and listening to me and let's be nice to each other. Have a good year.