Benefit of smiling employees goes well beyond face value

Promotional campaigns have evolved so much I expect brilliance.

Gideon Fidelzeid
Gideon Fidelzeid

Promotional campaigns have evolved so much I expect brilliance. With a bar that high, it is tough for any one campaign to stand out. However, in homage to this issue’s cover theme, Southwest Airlines’ Smile spots have done just that.

First debuting in May in six markets, but more widely released recently, the airline whose stock symbol is LUV created a campaign that focuses on crewmembers showing their pearly whites for passport photos. The line that resonated for me goes something like this: "All airline staffers have attitudes. Ours just have the good kind."

Coupling the data in the 2,100-plus responses we received for this year’s Best Places To Work survey with feedback from industry leaders, the desire to have employees be brand ambassadors is very clear. Marketing campaigns are powerful. It’s great when clients sing your praises. But nothing – or nobody – validates yours as an optimal place of employment more emphatically than the workforce.

In the December of PRWeek, Mike Coates, Hill+Knowlton Strategies’ Americas region CEO, focuses on stemming the tide of high staff turnover in the industry. A good place to start is to put as much emphasis on keeping staffers happy as you do on winning pitches.

Your staff is the foundation of your existence. You need them to devise those winning pitches and brilliant integrated initiatives. That great employee you’re dying to recruit will certainly factor in your internal culture – which is heavily represented by your team members – when making that final decision.

As you read the Best Places To Work feature, you will notice numerous references to factors that have seemingly nothing – but actually a lot – to do with the bottom line, such as a well-stocked kitchen and areas designated for fun and relaxation. Then there are elements such as strength of internal communications and work-life balance. On that latter front, I must note what an agency CEO recently told me about midnight emails. "I frown on any employee doing that," he insisted. "I want them to have their lives."

The Smile effort is smart in its simplicity and the brand positioning it reinforces. However, it’s that overriding message of happy staffers that every firm and in-house unit would do well to remember. Do that and your company could be on its way to business growth and a write-up in PRWeek’s 2015 Best Places To Work.  

Gideon Fidelzeid is managing editor of PRWeek. He can be contacted at

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