Vendors. The community. Analysts. Key community and political influencers. Bloggers. Most communications strategies begin by identifying key stakeholders. When you develop an announcement, launch a new product, unveil a new campaign, are you remembering to include your most important audience — your employees. If the first time your employees see a new commercial or read about a company development is through traditional media channels and not through an internal communication vehicle, you are missing a vital opportunity. Especially in retail, your employees are truly the front line to your consumers. Imagine if a consumer went into one of your locations and asked about a charitable promotion and that employee shrugged their shoulders and said, “I don’t know. ” Conversely, imagine the same situation and the employee grew excited and talked about what a great program it was, how important it was to the community and how much pride they had in their company for caring. A simple step is the difference between a motivated, informed workforce that can help seed a vibrant brand and a brand that breeds indifference. An effective internal communications strategy is not just a means to keep your team informed. It is a dynamic opportunity to change culture, inspire and alter behavior. Count your employees. That’s how many impassioned, eager spokespeople you have in your company. They have social media presence. They have friends and family. They have circles of influence. They are eager and waiting for your lead — are you taking advantage.