Public Relations Basics for Your Employer Branding
Founder and CEO of SLOVA Tech PR international agency for IT business/co-founder of WTECH community
The degree of employer’s brand relevance is reflected in the latest statistics: according to Employer Branding Insights Report 2019
, 90% of candidates consider HR brand of an employer when applying, 95% of respondents say company’s reputation matters a lot for them. As per Talentnow
, 50% of candidates would never work for a company with bad reputation even if they are offered more in terms of salary. The dominant majority of HR specialists agree that recruitment increasingly acquires features of marketing: the ability to sell a company as an outstanding employer has a direct impact on talent acquisition.
People is the most valuable asset of any business. Our clients are pursuing the goal of building an HR- / employer’s brand. We are witnessing the steady growth of market demand. Companies are willing to invest in people and their employer’s brand. In view of this, I offer to discuss the topic from PR perspective.
What is HR, PR, and EVP?
In a nutshell, HR PR means building an HR brand using PR tools. The HR brand is based on EVP (Employee Value Proposition). It includes:
- Comfortable working conditions (a convenient office with a lounge or recreation area, a separate workplace, meeting rooms, a kitchen or dining room);
- Caring for the employee (your
teammates are not overloaded daily, enjoy timely vacation, and if questions arise about the work quality, they are addressed in a personal conversation);
- Bonus system (surpassing KPIs or
providing an employee with additional value);
- Team microclimate (joint camping trips, going bowling, communication outside the office).
All of this pertains to specific corporate culture and cannot be simply captured in the job description. There are thousands of such texts, each company uses big words, and therefore, applicants no longer believe them. All your perks and benefits must surface.
Strategy: generating key messages and analyzing the target audience
In order to build an HR brand, you must create a key message and having a clear idea of the addressee. Key messages are a powerful expression of brand values and ideas. When communicating with the target audience through the media, you need to broadcast key messages.
Prior to generating key messages, make sure the mission, goals and objectives of the company are relevant, and that all employees understand and share them. Conduct a survey collecting employees’ impression — how they evaluate their experience. Afterwards, analyze the target audience — whom you address and attract to work in the company. Make a detailed portrait: age, social status, habits and hobbies; preferred brands, media as well as work expectations. Your key messages must appeal to your target audience, so make sure they match the style of the media that the target audience reads.
The potential candidate’s behavior depends on the way he/she learned about the job opening. We have two scenarios: the recruiter offers the job or the candidate found you. In either case, one googles information about the company: reads reviews, browses employee profiles, and reads publications in the press.
You can’t sway the reviews — they are formed externally. Therefore, you learn to react to them properly. Media publications are a chance to tell your story, your vision, and share what’s important. When candidate reads all of that and his/her values coincide with that of yours — it’s a match made in heaven. A person wants to work for you.
You can also maintain a corporate blog, however, the media is the perfect chance to tell your story using credible venues trusted by readers. When edition X writes about you, it’s something to be proud of.
Presence in the media can take various forms — from op-eds of company speakers to brand mentions in review articles. All publications create the corporate image as an employer and must satisfy this intent. For this purpose, identify media that interests you in terms of HR PR.
We recommend conducting a survey among employees on articles, topics and media they read. Analyze media coverage and create a content plan that matches the strategy.
Materials fall into:
1. Articles about the company and employee interviews. For instance, what the company is known for, how it excels competitors, how cool the office is, who the top managers are. You can also describe corporate culture and activities for employees outside the office. Interviews can show that a company has something to share, its experience is interesting and valuable for the reader.
2. Expert columns and comments on feature articles. An expert can be not only an HR manager, but other employees as well — developers, marketers, CEO etc. Oftentimes, a company thinks about columns from HR and CEO or CTO (in case of hiring programmers) in the first place. But in some cases, columns of ordinary employees have the wow effect. You have to proceed from the goal, market and personality of the company's speakers. The comments in the articles display your expertise: company reps analyze the state of the market or share their point of view.
3. Columns on company values. Ichak Adizes says that business has entered the era of love. Customers choose with their hearts, and so do job seekers. Given this, you should talk about values that are important to you and employees will want to broadcast. For example, the importance of teamwork or customer focus.
This should not be “publication for publication.” Work out the content plan, make sure that the articles are diverse, interesting to the media and cover all target audience segments.
To make PR really help you build a reputation in the labor market via content, you need to be very clear about goals on each particular website, who you publish content for and how it should interact with the target audience. Obviously, longread with tons of stats is out of place in
lifestyle media. And on the contrary, reinforce business publications with
relevant statistical data.
Yes, SMM is not quite a PR tool, but you can use the company's social media platforms to attract potential employees. Photos and stories from the weekly pizza party or happy hours on Instagram will give idea of the atmosphere in the company and activities outside of work. A successful example of HR brand promotion on Instagram is the case of the Salesforce CRM system developer. The company has two accounts — general
, where employees from all over the world talk about leisure activities whether it is joint training, basketball games, social initiatives. Also the account is used to discuss matters such as gender equality, community strength and opportunities that Salesforce provides.
In case one of your colleagues has a thematic Telegram channel, tell about it. In this way emphasize the specialist’s expertise and confirm the high level of the team.
Have no fear of going beyond standard formats. General Electric approached social media quite creatively. The company came up with a character, programmer Owen, who got a job with them. In the first video, he told relatives and friends about this who for some reason they are not happy. They are much more inspired by startups making hats for kittens. You could watch Owen’s career on all GE social networks. An unusual campaign drew attention to GE as an employer: attendance of the website’s career section grew by 800%. Thus, thinking out of the box works miracles and makes you stand out from the crowd.
Holding meetups, lectures, conferences and masterclasses is a way to build a community of professionals around the brand. Before diving into event organization, take time to study the market, explore whether the niche is occupied, who competitors are and what they fail to take into account. Get people from the industry to endorse the event, promote it on social media networks.
Approach the meetings regularly to form its brand within the community of specialists you need. I recommend to hold one event to test the format. We have been working with Preply
platform for many years —practically since the agency’s inception. Technically, the product is complex,
it is presented in many markets, the company is constantly evolving. As part of HR PR, they constantly hold events for the community, bringing together the brightest CTOs and VPs.
There’s no need in complex metrics to evaluate employer’s brand. You to track whether PR works or not by communicating with candidates, assessing the level of applicants, their experience and other places of work.
PR in this area has no deadlines: a strong brand is relevant for the company at all times. The first results can be expected in 3-6 months (depending on the market and scope). A pair of publications in targeted media and one event per month are enough to maintain the image at the appropriate level.
Veroslava Novosilnaya, CEO and founder of SLOVA Tech PR, a global PR agency for IT business, explains why companies need a strong HR brand and how PR tools will help.
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