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How to Harness Public Relations to Enhance Your Employer Brand

The job market isn’t only competitive for job seekers. Despite a strong demand for labor, businesses struggle to fill open positions. Changing values and work attitudes resulting from COVID and Gen Z’s entry into the workforce means that companies must rethink their business processes and company culture.

That may explain these HR investment trends.

One of the best ways to acquire and retain quality workers is to manage your employer brand through PR. Top talents don’t want to work for companies with bad reputations. Half of candidates say they won’t work for a company with one, even if they’d get a pay increase.

What is employer branding?

It is a marketing strategy that positions your company as the employer of choice. You know when you manage your brand reputation to attract and retain customers? You should do the same with your employer brand to attract and retain potential and current employees.

How to Unleash the Power of PR to Bolster Your Employer Brand

A well-crafted employer PR strategy is critical to not only talent acquisition but also employee retention of top performers. It should communicate your values, workplace culture, and employer value proposition.

Here’s how to harness the power of PR to elevate your employer brand. If you don’t have the time to do all these things, you can always leverage excellent PR services to help you:

1. Craft Compelling Stories

Storytelling and PR go hand in hand. PR aims to generate positive press, improve employer brand awareness, and increase positive reputation. There’s no better way to shape public perception than telling stories about your brand.

People like stories. Relatable narratives about your company will create deep emotional connections with target audiences. They also give potential candidates a peek into what it’s like to work with you. 

But for you to enhance your employer brand through PR this way, you need to know where to look for these stories.

A good place to start is your employee value proposition (EVP). Simply put, EVP outlines why people love working for your organization. According to Gartner, the five elements that make up EVP are compensation, work-life balance, stability, location, and respect.

Let’s say you want to showcase employee development. You can tell the story of an employee’s impressive growth in the company.

If you want to highlight work-life balance, why not do what BambooHR did? The company created a video showing how its employees have fun during their paid vacation days. You’ll find the video on the company website:

Other sources for stories are your mission, vision, and company values. Does your company contribute money or volunteer time to a cause? Content on an employee’s typical CSR (corporate social responsibility) day, for instance, can increase your brand visibility among qualified candidates who value community involvement.

The key is to make your employer branding content not look too promotional. You want to highlight the actual experiences of individual employees instead of making pitches about how your company goes the extra mile for them. When you focus on human experiences in your content, job seekers will easily relate to your stories and buy your message.

2. Leverage Media Relations

Managing how the media portrays your brand is vital to public relations. Press coverage increases brand awareness among new audiences, raising your profile and increasing traffic to your website.

The first step in leveraging media relationships is researching which types of publications are likely to cover your stories. For example, tech journals are more likely to publish your tech event press release than lifestyle magazines. Also, their target audience aligns with yours.

Think local. Local press is more likely to cover your career fair than national media outlets.

Once you have identified the targeted outlets and publications, contact individual reporters and editors directly. Media houses receive hundreds of stories and leads, and your press release will be buried if you use the general contact or tips pages.

We recommend building media relationships before sending your press pitch. Most journalists have social media profiles. Follow journalists in your industry and share their content. Over 50% of PR professionals follow journalists on social media platforms before pitching to them. That way, when they finally ask for positive coverage, the reporters see previous engagement and are likely to comply.

Another way to build relationships with the media is by helping journalists with their articles. Platforms like HARO (help a reporter out) connect journalists looking for information with industry experts.

When you sign up for an account, you receive an index of request summaries based on your registered interests. See the example below.

You will see the story brief, inclusion criteria, and deadline submission when you click the request that matches your expertise. Competition is stiff, and you won’t always hear back from some media outlets you respond to.

Alternatively, you can search #journorequests on X.

The above example is a result of the request hashtag. The result list is comprehensive. So, you have to combine the hashtag with industry-specific terms to find posts relevant to your niche.

3. Promote Employer Brand on Social Media

PR is more than press releases and earned media through news reports and features. These days, the best way to generate positive press is through social media channels. Why? Social media dominates news consumption among millennial and Gen Z audiences. Furthermore, over 50% of Americans use social media to stay updated on company news.

Remember the brand stories we talked about earlier? Social media is the ideal place to showcase these types of content.

The Starbucks Job Instagram page doesn’t only share job adverts. It showcases their employee value proposition.

To expand your reach, you can leverage influencer collaborations as well. Influencer statistics show that 69% of consumers trust influencer recommendations. Moreover, these partnerships give you access to targeted audiences and the influencer’s credibility.

But social media doesn’t just help you promote your employer brand. It can enhance your employer branding strategies in other ways, too:

  • Audience engagement: Traditional PR is one-way. Companies release press statements – end of story. Social media PR is different. Social platforms have engagement features that allow audiences to engage with brands. This two-way communication fosters connections and helps build relationships with potential employees.
  • Brand consistency: Media content like press releases are generally formal. But what if your brand voice is irreverent? The inconsistency may lead people to question your brand’s sincerity and content authenticity, diminishing trust. Social media allows you to bypass the tone restrictions of traditional media houses and fully showcase your brand identity.

If you opt for this strategy, make sure you choose the social platforms your target employees frequent, of course. It wouldn’t make sense to have a social media presence on Instagram if your prospective employees frequent Facebook instead.

4. Measure and Adjust

Tracking your employer brand strategy helps you understand what’s working and where you could improve.

The primary PR metrics you should track include:

  • Brand impact – measures how campaigns impact brand awareness and reputation
  • Brand reach – measures how many people view your content
  • Media coverage – measures how many publications feature your content
  • Audience sentiment – measures how people feel about your brand
  • Share of voice – measures your brand mentions compared to your competitors

Insights from analytics tools empowers you to adjust your PR-driven recruitment strategy to optimize results. For example, if most of your career site traffic comes from social media, you can invest your employer branding efforts in those channels.

Don’t forget financial KPIs like return on investment. Bad hires cost businesses 30% of the employee’s first-year earnings. While PR doesn’t have explicit money-making goals, it affects the bottom line and should align with your overall business goals.

In Closing

Cultivating a strong employer brand through PR allows companies to influence how current employees and prospective employees perceive them. Why is that important? More than ever, employees are willing to leave jobs that don’t meet their satisfaction and expectations. Job seekers, meanwhile, look at reputation when choosing an employer.

In this article, I shared how you can unleash the power of PR to enhance your brand reputation and stand out in the competitive talent market. Leverage storytelling to demonstrate your employee value proposition. Develop media relationships to expand your reach and boost your authority. Promote your brand on social media to expand your reach and gain greater control of your narrative. Then evaluate your PR strategy and adjust based on your findings.

Pretty soon, you will reap the benefits and be known as an employer of choice. 

By Chris Norton, host of Socially Unacceptable, a UK Top 10 marketing podcast that celebrates marketing fails, and Founder of award-winning B2C specialist PR agency Prohibition. His social media training blog is listed in the UK’s top 10 PR blogs. For tons of digital PR tips, you can follow Chris here @chris_norton.

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