Is public relations part of your overall Recruitment Marketing strategy?
For many of us, PR likely isn’t on the radar just yet for a number of reasons, including a lack of time, resources or awareness about the benefits of PR.
However, it’s worth getting familiar with a few common PR approaches since they could benefit your overall Recruitment Marketing strategy as your team develops.
First things first, why do we often overlook PR?
In all honesty, many marketing and communications professionals (myself included until relatively recently!) aren’t 100% sure what PR is all about — which makes it particularly difficult to build into your Recruitment Marketing strategy.
PR is an area that’s often misunderstood because many of the channels overlap with regular digital marketing channels today. Additionally, it’s common for people to confuse PR with traditional crisis communications or media relations. Other people think PR is too expensive — that it’s a “pay for play” space.
However, PR is a field separate from digital marketing, and bigger than either crisis comms or media relations on their own. And the most effective PR is often earned, rather than purchased.
So what is PR all about then?
According to the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), PR is “a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”
This is a pretty high-level definition, but if we boil it down to the basics, good PR is really all about effective storytelling that raises a target audience’s awareness and/or shapes their perceptions about something.
To achieve this, PR professionals are focused on developing and distributing pitches in the form of captivating stories that gather attention and land placements in relevant media spots.
These stories can be communicated through various strategies and channels including media and influencer placements, social media and content marketing, branded events and more.
Why is PR useful for advancing your employer brand?
PR is useful to consider from an employer brand perspective because of what PR professionals are looking to achieve. In PR, success is often measured by brand awareness — or the quantity of relevant media placements and impressions that you’re able to gain through a given campaign.
As a result, if you’re looking to build more employer brand awareness, PR might be a great way to do so.
PR is also useful for Recruitment Marketing practitioners to implement into their strategy because it helps you to:
- Identify and package up employee experience stories
- Place these stories in front of candidates
- Influence candidates’ perceptions about your company as an employer
If this sounds like something that could be of value to you, read on to learn about a few common PR approaches that you can try out.
What PR approaches can you use to advance your employer brand?
- Think like a PR pro to identify your company’s unique employment stories
As mentioned before, in a lot of ways PR is really all about packing things up into stories that will appeal to a target audience.
Even if you don’t have the capacity or resources to formally implement an employer brand PR program for your organization, you can consider the PR focus on storytelling in order to produce more captivating content for your own blogs or social channels.
To do so, you might consider how you can turn components of your employee value proposition (EVP) into stories. You might even use your EVP pillars as a starting point to identify what types of stories to focus on.
Some example story angles might include:
- Your company’s unique new mentorship program for Women in Tech
- How your company revolutionized your employee onboarding experience
- How your company donated [x] hours of volunteer time to [y] cause in 2019
- How to build out an engineering function from the ground up
- Why veterans thrive as project managers at your company
These types of employee experience stories will stand out from less narrative driven content and attract attention on your careers blog or social channels, even if you don’t have time for any other PR activities.
However, if you do have more time, these stories could also be marketed towards other media placements outside of your owned channels. The following PR approaches on this list outline how to land your stories in other media spots.
- Create a media list
To start out, you’ll want to make a list of editors and journalists to send relevant pitches to on an ongoing basis.
One of the most common mistakes in PR is that people will send out press releases to too wide of an audience, many of whom won’t be the right fit for the specific pitch they’re delivering.
By creating a media list before reaching out to journalists or bloggers, you can filter who to send a specific pitch to based on the exact message and who you’re trying to reach.
Publications that might be a good fit for Recruitment Marketing purposes will vary depending on the talent demographic you’re looking to reach, however here are a few ideas:
- Professional association blogs
- The business section of local newspapers in priority hiring markets
- Veterans or Women in Tech publications
Once you’ve made a list of publications or blogs that could be a fit, based on the talent demographics you’re trying to reach, you should try to find contact information for each of those publications to have on hand.
Many publications will have editor contact information published on their site. Otherwise, you can do a bit of hunting on LinkedIn for contact info or pay for a service like Cision to track down contact info (this option is pricey to access though).
Put all of the publications and contact info in one spreadsheet that you can filter by talent segment or/and geography, and you’ll have a quick and easy-to-use media list that’s ready to go as you develop new stories for your organization.
Here is an example of the type of document you might create for your media list:
- Write pitches and send them to members of your media list
Once you’ve identified a few unique stories about your company and the employee experience you offer and have identified some relevant publications, you can put together some pitches.
A pitch is a targeted communications that outlines the story you have to share, the spokesperson who can share more details about your story and why the story will be of interest to the readership of the publication you’re reaching out to.
You can distribute your pitch by email as phone pitches are considered outdated now and most editors are irritated by them.
In terms of formatting for this email, the best practice is to put your pitch in the body of your message along with any embedded images and videos to increase the chances that your contacts will take notice and run with your story.
You will likely need to adjust the angle of your pitch each time you send it out to make sure it’s well suited for a specific publication or journalist.
If you want more resources on pitching, Cision has put together a guide on How to Write the Perfect PR Pitch that is definitely worth a read.
- Help a Reporter Out
In addition to pitching to your media list, you can also land media placements by acting as the source for reporters writing for a range of publications.
To do so, you can join the HARO (Help A Reporter Out) email list for free. This list goes out 3 times a day (morning, lunch and evening) and contains a list of topics that reporters are looking for expert insights on for a range of publications — including reputable publications like The New York Times, Harvard Business Review, Forbes and more.
If you work or are hiring in a country outside the U.S., there may also be similar lists that cater to publications in that region. For example, if you want to be featured in UK publications, there is also a HARO equivalent there called ResponseSource that works similarly.
For employer branding purposes, you’ll typically want to take a quick scan through the Business/Finance section of the email on a daily basis to see if anyone is looking for quotes in areas that relate to employer branding, such as:
- Creating or providing an outstanding work culture
- Hiring or candidate experience best practices
- Unique or attractive benefits offerings
- Companies working hard to attract new grads
(Note that the above are all real examples of HARO requests that I’ve seen go out in the past month.)
Here’s a snapshot of what your HARO email might look like on a given day:
From there, you can reply to the email with a pitch answering the reporter’s questions for a chance to be featured or quoted in their publication.
Often you may want quotes to come from a senior member of your team, like your CHRO or a VP on your HR team, to ensure your submission has authority. This means, you will likely need to work with a senior member of your team to get some pre-approved quotes that you can use to try and get placements.
For more information on how HARO mechanics and best practices, you can view this informative blog on HARO pitching.
- Publish a press release
If you have a really exciting story to share with the world, you can also consider publishing a press release through a PR outlet like Cision, PR Newswire or BusinessWire.
Once published, press releases are likely to get picked up by a range of other publications and media sites, amplifying the reach of the message you’re trying to get out.
However, publishing a press release can cost $100 or more, so you need to ensure you have a bit of a budget for this and an attention-grabbing story to tell.
If you’re interested in learning more about putting together a press release, you can take a look at this blog on How to Create a Press Release That Converts.
Track the outcomes of your PR efforts
As with any Recruitment Marketing work, tracking your efforts will help you to understand what’s working and what’s not — and whether you ought to invest more time in certain areas or scale back in others.
To do so, track where you’re mentioned and any careers site traffic coming from those sources so you can begin to understand the value of the work you’re putting into PR.
From a tactical standpoint, a good approach here is to use a Google or Excel sheet to track all the places where you’ve pitched to and the places where you received a placement. In many cases, you will need to manually check in on a regular basis to see if your pitches were successful, so this tracker will help you remember all the places that you ought to include in your Google search.
Here’s a quick screenshot showing the template we use for tracking the reach-out progress:
We also use a template to track the results of our PR reach-outs:
Lastly, while these PR approaches can have great pay-offs from a brand awareness standpoint, there is no debating the fact that this work is time consuming. If you’re short on capacity, consider picking just a couple activities from this list or see if you can partner with your internal PR team to get extra support.
I hope you find this list helpful to consider as an introduction to the PR world and some of the activities typically associated with PR work. There are of course many other PR activities that you could consider incorporating into your overall Recruitment Marketing strategy to meet your team’s goals; however, this blog is intended to outline a few primary PR activities to get you started.
Please feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn and let me know if you use any of the above tactics or let me know if you’re already using any other PR strategies in your current Recruitment Marketing approach.
And until then, good luck pitching!
Ready to take your employer brand to the next level? Learn how to get your business unit leaders and hiring managers on board with your employer brand efforts. The next step in employer brand development is to partner across teams to create content and messaging that tells the unique culture and employee experience of each team, business unit and location. Hear how forward-thinking employers like BAE Systems and AstraZeneca are bringing their team value propositions to life to attract and recruit candidates for hard-to-fill roles and business hiring initiatives. Watch the Rally Webinar On Demand: Evolve Your Employer Brand: Storytelling for Team Value Propositions