Stacey Havel on Using PR for Branding
If You've Got It, Flaunt It!
Using PR to Broadcast Your Employer Brand
Your employer brand is strong, your employees seem content, you understand what the workforce wants, so why isn’t top talent banging on your door, begging to get in?
Unfortunately, being a great company and being known as one are two different things. According to Stacey Havel, Director of Human Resources Public Relations (HRPR) at Hodes, public relations is essential to projecting the right image of your company and appealing to the top talent you’re seeking. PR can help portray your company as a desirable employer and make it stand out from the competition.
We caught up with Stacey in the Hodes Miami office where she develops PR strategies for numerous Hodes clients, and asked her advice on what companies should be doing to improve their image as an employer of choice.
Q. Can you paint a picture of how PR fits into an integrated marketing campaign?
I think of PR as the “think tank” of the integrated marketing campaign. Public relations is how a company is truly going to showcase itself as an employer of choice, or differentiate itself from competitors to attract the right candidates.
Q. Why would a company want to use HRPR to attract candidates?
Clearly there is a war for talent, but companies are going to have to start looking past the passive candidates and start also planning for new graduates and the so called “active candidates” for recruitment and staffing purposes. Through the use of PR, companies can motivate and really speak to these candidates by demonstrating the real life accounts of how, for example, in-house training and mentoring programs can build up a lesser experienced worker to be a productive part of the team.
Q. What are some of the HRPR tools that a client can utilize to source and attract candidates?
Obviously, the big one is media coverage. It’s the cornerstone of PR. But, public relations is about communicating and appealing to the masses, while building relationships with your audience. The use of media coverage is the easiest way to do this but companies can also use newsletters, events, public speaking and networking, as well as “best of” lists and awards. Since we are focused on messaging, our options are endless.
Q. Talk a little about the lists and awards. How does a company’s inclusion on these lists help attract candidates and build employer brand?
Good question. These lists and awards serve as resume builders for companies. When candidates are conducting their company research, and they compare Company A and the fact that they have been included on the Fortune “Best Places to Work” list five years running and counting, and then they see Company B, which appears to have never tried or may not have made it, that says a lot more about Company A.
Q. So companies can pursue these awards to give credence to what the advertising and marketing communications are touting?
Exactly. That’s the beauty of integration. We talk about media coverage as a third party credible endorsement. Someone in the media is writing about you, so what you are saying must be true or valid. The same idea applies with the lists and awards, and perhaps even more so. If DiversityInc. has chosen you as one of its “50 Best Companies for Diversity”, there is no way that company is not doing something right to attract AND retain a diverse workforce.
Q. You talk a lot about community relations, how do these activities help companies attract candidates?
This area of PR has a history all to itself, starting back in the days of the industrial revolution with the Gettys and Vanderbilts. Now, cutting a check to your favorite charity just doesn’t quite mean what it used to. The new generation of workers, the Millennials, are more civic- and philanthropic-minded. They are choosing companies and careers that embrace helping others. So the idea of Corporate Social Responsibility will play a huge role for companies for many years to come.
Q. What about the use of Corporate Social Responsibility with current employees?
Well, CSR is also a team-building, retention tool. When the CEO of a company volunteers to be in the dunk tank to raise money for a charity, this shows a true commitment to teamwork. If your CEO is willing to spend time looking a little silly or doing something he or she wouldn’t normally do, then chances are the employees will want to participate and be supporters for the cause as well. This helps build lasting employee relationships, and helps employees feel that their employer is doing its part to help out for the greater good.
Q. The candidate pool is shrinking, how does this change the way companies need to position themselves and develop their image as an employer?
First and foremost, companies need to have that employer brand and image, not only developed but set in stone. As my esteemed colleague Mark Hornung says, “value is created not by companies, but by the talented people who populate them.” What HRPR does is takes that value, adds faces and names to it, and shows the tangible side of a company. That’s what makes headlines and separates one company from the next.
Developing an endearing image so that someone says, “Wow! Now that’s the type of company I want to work for” is not an easy task. For starters, it has to be believable and it has to fit the company and its culture. But once the brand is solidified and stands up to its own promise, then companies can begin to step outside of the traditional recruitment advertising and use tools like HRPR to beat the drum a little harder and call attention to the fact that they are good employers with dynamite opportunities.
Q. Many HR departments are concerned about media coverage because of past indiscretions, or issues with employees, how can they become more comfortable with utilizing the HRPR service?
My best advice to companies who have run into some trouble with their image, and might have been knocked around by the media is to get back up on that horse and ride it again. Only this time, the company has to be proactive in changing the perception and image of itself. Will a company be totally immune from its past demons, no, especially if the last thing the media, and the public for that matter, remembers you for is something negative. So in order to show that you have corrected past issues, you need to be prepared to deal with them full steam ahead and then show how the company learned, grew from the experience and is now correcting it. There is no better PR than owning up to a mistake, but then showing you cared enough to correct it.
Q. If you had to sum up HRPR is a few words?
It’s the proof in recruitment advertising.
Stacey Havel is senior director of Public Relations for Bernard Hodes Group. In her role, she develops new business and works with clients to develop and implement an effective HRPR strategy. She works with clients from a variety of industries, including healthcare, manufacturing, business services and retail. Her expertise includes media relations, crisis communications, and media training.
Prior to joining Hodes, she was a senior account executive at Boardroom Communications, a boutique media relations agency located in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Her responsibilities at Boardroom included maintaining day-to-day contact with clients, creating and implementing public relations and media relations plans, as well as developing new business opportunities. She worked with clients such as Greenberg Traurig LLP, the Better Business Bureau of Southeastern Florida and Spherion Corporation.
A native of Houston, TX, she began her career with top international public relations agency Hill & Knowlton. While with H&K, she held the positions of account coordinator and assistant account executive with both its Houston and Fort Lauderdale offices. While with H&K, she worked with clients such as El Paso Energy, Compaq Computer Corporation (now HP), and Continental Airlines. Stacey holds a Bachelor’s degree in public relations from the University of Houston. In her free time, Stacey enjoys travel, reading, watching baseball, and collecting Asian antiques.