Andy GetseyAndy Getsey 

Employer branding is a critical element in any organization’s ability to attract strong candidates — think of it as the sum total of a company’s brand awareness and reputation as an employer of choice.

According to LinkedIn’s 2017 Global Trends Report, 80 percent of business leaders believe that employer brand has a significant impact on their ability to successfully recruit top talent.

A lot of PR work involves creating highly structured and polished stories and thought leadership pieces aimed at media, social channels and events and addressing topics like company news, product news, financial performance, vision and perspective — all of which is super important.

O'Dwyer's Nov. '17 Technology PR MagazineThis article is featured in O'Dwyer's Nov. '17 Technology PR Magazine

But in the war for talent, serious candidates can be wary of too much marketing polish, and really want more of an insider view of the company. Working with HR executives, recruiters and employees, PR pros can help create the kind of authentic communications about the company’s mission/values, staff and day-to-day work activity that give candidates the kind of information they actually need, and that can make a difference in recruiting effectiveness

How can a PR person inject more employer brand value into his/her work to directly impact a company’s success in attracting top candidates?

Build employer branding elements into the PR plan. Proactively collaborate with the HR/recruiting team to build an employer branding “track” into the corporate PR plan. More than anything, prospective employees want to know what a company values, what it’s really like to work there, what the work itself is like, and who the people are that make the company go. Bake these kinds of stories, and content about these topics into the program — inside the usual product announcements, earnings releases, hiring and promotion announcements, etc.

For example, in a product release, highlight the individuals and teams, and the challenges they overcame in creating the product. In hiring or promotion announcements, include nods to key aspects of the company’s mission, values and culture.

Inject candidate-facing talking points into everything. Similarly, work with your company’s spokespeople to inject bits of the company’s mission, values, culture, diversity, meaningfulness of work, etc., into conversations about news, perspectives, vision, and other topics. It can be subtle, but do it.

Highlight interesting people and work. Promote interviews, contributed article opportunities and blog/social media/video posts with the company’s most interesting people, engineers and other technical staff, as well as racially- and gender-diverse employees, university graduate hires and interns.

Candidates want to know who really works at your company, what they’re working on and what they have to say. Staff-produced content is far more interesting to prospective employees than what the company says about itself.

Help with Glassdoor. Use your skills in community management, crisis planning and Q&A coaching to work with HR on strategy for managing Glassdoor, and messaging to address the most common comments and complaints — and work with management to address valid criticisms and make actual changes.

Include recruiters on real-time clip distribution. Get to know your company’s recruiters, and pass along employer brand-friendly articles and posts to them as they hit, so they can work them into candidate calls and correspondence right away.

Help with events. Offer your event management knowledge and skills to help the recruiting team in planning and hosting tailored recruiting events. Help engineers with planning and managing meetups. They know what they’re doing, but coming from PR, you may have a different perspective and skillset that would be additive and welcome.

Submit for best workplace awards. Collaboration between PR and HR and recruiting on awards strategy and execution is powerful. PR people often have access to media and award-list resources and application skills that HR departments may not have, and HR/recruiting has a professional feel for the employee point of view that PR may not. Some awards are given strictly through employee ratings — like Glassdoor and Indeed.com. Many others accept applications — from the big ones like Fortune, WSJ, Inc. and Working Mother magazines, to local opportunities through city business journals, to the dozens of others for different industries, company sizes, type of worker, etc. There’s a fair bit of work involved, so pitching in together makes it easier. But it’s worth it.

Work employer brand-related KPI’s and metrics into your PR program evaluation and reporting process. Nothing motivates adoption of new activities like tracking them. Set some goals, put some efforts against them, and report on them. A few starter ideas:

• # articles or posts conveying positive aspects of your company’s culture

• # references of your company’s mission, values, culture in articles/interviews about other topics

• # profiles of, or Q&As with, interesting employees

• # articles or posts from interesting employees

• # HR events PR assists with, before and after metrics

• # awards applied for/won

• # clips or posts passed along to recruiters

• # visits to company’s career site, LinkedIn, Glassdoor pages before and after enhanced PR/HR collaboration

• # applicants before/after stronger collaboration between PR and HR

Granted, stepping up employer brand support may well increase your workload, but the impact of injecting more employer branding value into your overall PR efforts can be huge in terms of attracting and recruiting top talent.

And as employer branding continues to explode as a discipline, adding pro-level experience to your portfolio of skills will make you more valuable — and possibly even open up new career opportunities.

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Andy Getsey is Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Employera (www.employera.com), an HR consulting firm focused on employer branding, talent acquisition, employee engagement and experience design to help companies attract and keep the right people. He also co-founded and helmed tech firm Atomic PR, which was acquired by Huntsworth in 2011.