By Keith Trivitt
July 6, 2011
The alignment of a brand’s culture with societal, employee and customer expectations and norms is key to ensuring a company fits within its marketplace. As Gary Sheffer, vice president of communications and public affairs at General Electric notes, “Culture is the heart of a brand. It is a promise that you deliver to your customers, society and employees. Culture has to be aligned with the brand.”
A brand that doesn’t deliver upon its promise to stakeholders has numerous short- and long-term problems, says Sheffer. Beyond impacting sales, a poor brand culture can diminish a company’s credibility and the public’s trust in that brand. “What your brand says must match what it does” within the marketplace, says Sheffer.
Sheffer describes GE’s culture as comprising three core areas: learning, performance and change.
In this exclusive PRSA video, Sheffer discusses the important role culture plays in building and enhancing GE’s brand and its value to customers, shareholders and employees.
Spending approximately $1 billion annually on employee training, part of which includes culture education, Sheffer says his job as a communicator is to describe and advocate for GE’s culture. “More importantly, it’s to help build the company’s culture and make sure it’s vibrant, understandable and robust. My job, in a lot of cases, is to help the outside world understand the value of GE’s culture.”
Reflecting on how employee communications demonstrates “The Business Value of Public Relations™,” Sheffer considers himself a “cultural advocate” for GE. In doing so, he finds that successful employee communications programs enhance the value of GE’s culture and can help internal and external audiences understand the value of effective communications across all sectors of a company.
Public relations and “communications professionals have perhaps the broadest view of society and of a company,” says Sheffer. That adds value to their work by helping a business make sure “societal needs and expectations, along with internal expectations and needs, are met and aligned with a company’s business objectives.”
For more video interviews and case studies detailing the business value of public relations, click here.