How to sell your employer brand when you’re not where the action is

by Paul MacKenzie-Cummins
by Paul MacKenzie-Cummins

In a fast-moving and highly competitive market for PR and Content talent, we, like many of the clients we work with, face a major challenge: how to entice the right people we need to work with us in Bradford on Avon – a quintessential Cotswold town that is 10 miles south of Bath and 20 miles or so to the east of Bristol.

It is true to say that when it comes to career destinations of choice for top talent, Bradford on Avon is unlikely to feature in anyone’s top 100 towns and cities, let alone be their first choice. Having the likes of Bristol on our doorstep hardly helps our cause. Bristol is a city that seems to be winning ‘Best Place To…’ accolades left right and centre and attracts 20-and 30- something talent in their droves, and often with little effort. Righty so, too.

But not being based in Bristol or London – one of the world’s biggest PR hubs and second only to New York – has its advantages. For starters, businesses located in small towns like Bradford on Avon tend to have a higher staff retention rate.

Indeed, look at the employee churn rates of most PR agencies in larger cities and you’ll see that many people leave their current employer within one to two years. This is down to two things.

First, when there is a high concentration of similar businesses in the same area, people are more tempted to job hop. They have a greater number of new opportunities on their doorstep, which in turn makes it easier to flit from one employer to the other.

Second, when working for businesses that are located away from the action, people tend to be more dedicated to the cause as it were. In other words, they see the opportunity with the employer over the long term, rather than use the company as a stepping stone in their career.

It is the latter that should be the starting point for promoting your profile as an employer of choice.

Focus on ‘the way forward’ for the individual

In a rather excellent report conducted by PwC, 38% of millennials (those born between 1980 and 1995) are actively looking for a new job. Contrary to believe, they’re not seeking a bigger buck; rather, they’re looking to work with an employer who can offer genuine career progression.

This invariably goes hand in hand with the provision of sustained training and development – something that has been found to rank higher than financial reward, as we have discovered during one of our recent recruitment campaigns.

Over the last 12 months, we have spent more time focusing on ensuring that our clients were looked after but failed to do the same with our people. We rectified that earlier this year and introduced a range of training programmes, including creative thinking sessions, video production workshops and media relations courses. The result?

Current staff report feeling valued and are using the skills they have learned to add greater value to the work we do for clients. This has proven to appeal to applicants too – attracted by the opportunity to have their potential spotted (job offer is made) and developed with on the job training.

Sell the opportunity to become a true expert in the field

We’re one of just two agencies in the UK that specialises in the Recruitment and Recruitment Technology industry. It represents 70% of our revenues, with the remainder coming from a mix of Tech, Finance and Professional Services clients.

This gives each person in the team the chance to gain, develop and advance their knowledge and understanding of all the nuances of each specific sector, and an appreciation of the challenges their clients (and emphasise this as it is important for staff to claim ownership of the clients they work with) face.

Promote the variety of activities undertaken

Clearly PR also produces more content in the form of articles, social marketing and thought leadership than our closes three competitors combined. This makes us different in that it showcases us an agency that has a more expansive remit.

Indeed, we’re not limited to traditional outbound PR (press releases, emails, newsletters, media relations) services. Rather, much of our focus is on inbound PR tactics (articles, social media, whitepapers, video, podcasts, ebooks and blogs).

Combined, these inbound and outbound PR activities deliver measurable results for our clients. It’s what we call ‘higher value’ content that has proven to build brand profiles and positively impact the bottom line. We practice what we preach and treat Clearly PR as a client in its own right – we only undertake services for clients that we would do for ourselves.

This enhances our appeal as an employer of choice – people want to work for us because we offer a variety of work, it is an opportunity for them to become true media specialists, and they report a confidence in working for a business that takes its own PR as seriously as the clients they represent.

Address the what’s-in-it-for-me head on

Clearly PR is an incredibly ambitious business. Over the last 18 months, the company has seen a 441% increase in billings, while the number of clients we work with has expanded from five to 15 over the same period.

Growth and ambition are highly attractive to people who are equally ambitious for their careers. That’s why we promote the long-term opportunities that we can provide – the more we grow, the greater the number of new roles that will become available. But we go a step further to say that the only factor that will hold the right person back, is their own ambition.

 

Raising your profile as an employer of choice always has its challenges. And, if like us, you are located away from the where all the top talent is hanging out then you need to work that bit harder to give them a good reason to want to work for you. But it is possible as our experience has shown and you don’t need to resort to offering above-average salaries to do so.

In fact, we never advertised the salary on offer for any of the last three positions we recruited for, yet we still received over 50 applications.

It’s a matter of understanding what makes you great, recognising what will appeal to the talent you wish to attract and then taking the right approach to get your message seen and heard by the right people, in the right way and at the right time. Location is certainly an important consideration for any job seeker, but if you paint the right picture you will overcome that particular obstacle.

Need some help to maximise your employer brand? Feel free to call or email me at any time.