What is Employer Branding? Is it PR, HR or both?

Kay Phelps, Director and founder of PR in HR, a PR and Communications specialist who works with the HR sector explains how both PR and HR can play a role in employer branding, sharing some of her favourite examples.

There is a lot of noise about employer branding in both the PR and HR community – but what is employer branding, anyway?

Employer branding involves getting your core employer values and culture right, then working with PR to communicate these values effectively. Brands that get this right become a ‘destination employer’, improving their hiring process and gaining good PR for the company.

Here’s some brilliant examples I’ve seen of employer branding in recent years:

In a male-dominated, masculine sports event, Audi delivered a masterclass in employer branding with a clever advert highlighting gender inequality from a father’s perspective. Delivered at the heart of the NFL Superbowl in 2017, the ad continues to be talked about today – with the subtle message that Audi support equal opportunities – and so do Audi drivers. It remains one of the most talked about adverts in years, keeping the brand in the news for months.  Learn More

How GE repositioned themselves to snare digital talent

GE is one of the oldest firms in the US and had a ‘traditional’ reputation.  However, as a leading provider of software that powered multiple industries, they needed to reposition the brand to attract digital talent in a world full of hot tech start ups.  Their ‘what’s the matter with Owen’ campaign was a perfect way to tell customers and talent alike that they were at the forefront of the tech world.  Learn more

Headline-generating perks – How Netflix’s parental leave policy started a chain reaction

Retention is as important as talent attraction – in some industries, the competition is harder than others. In 2015, Netflix announced a new policy of unlimited parental leave in the first year to new parents, alongside unlimited annual leave for salaried employees – just as the hot young talent the firm was built on was needing a new type of support. The policy was quickly matched by other Silicon Valley employers and generated much publicity for the company. Read More

Attracting medical talent – Best of Both Worlds Campaign

Employer branding sometimes involves thinking outside the box – especially when issues driving low applications are out of your control.

Vacancies for nurses and midwives are increasing year on year, while applications are dropping by 12.2%, with many leaving the profession due to a poor work/life balance. Northamptonshire tackled these recruitment challenges with a ‘Best of Both Worlds’ campaign created by Altadicta.  The campaign highlighted how Northamptonshire offered a better work/life balance than many of the UK’s big cities, while offering excellent opportunities for career development. Learn More

Re-Branding the employer brand – the ‘McJob’

There’s a long PR tradition of ‘owning’ nicknames, even the bad ones. Since the 1980s, entry-level jobs at McDonald’s, ‘McJobs; were perceived as low paying, dead end jobs with poor prospects. In reality, McDonalds’ staff enjoy extensive training and development and many enjoy a long-term and mutually rewarding career – some even have company cars.

Result? The company turned the ‘McJob’ image around, using employee stories, focusing on benefits, flexible working opportunities, paid training and free food, all followed by taglines like ‘not bad for a McJob’. Learn More

I’ve given even more examples of excellent employer branding strategies on my blog, however, the key message is that ’employer branding’ is about far more than just one or two headline grabbing perks.

Building Trust

Ultimately, the difference between a good employer and a great employer is understanding that building trust is the single most important thing in any business.  It works across the business.  Building trust with your customers will make customers want to buy from you, building trust with your workforce will make them want to work for you.

Great PR is not about creating ‘spin’ and ‘hype’.  Really great PR is, like HR, all about building relationships, promoting trust and encouraging co-operation, so for me, building a really strong employer brand starts with trusted communications.

When the two disciplines collaborate to build an employer brand, it won’t just help generate publicity and sales.  Done well, building an employer brand delivers benefits across your organisation, from employee engagement, to talent attraction and retention, to improved public perception.  That isn’t just good for your image – it’s good for your business.