The question for companies is not whether they will have an employer brand, but rather to what degree they will shape their narrative. The employer brand, which is essentially the company’s reputation among prospective and current employees, is subject to influence from a number of different directions. Mission and values, company culture, customer base, media awareness and even brand aesthetics will all play some part.
For better or worse, the brand will take shape with or without employer input, but businesses are wise to take control while they still can. Beyond ideals like owning your own narrative, there are plenty of practical reasons for businesses to be proactive with their brand, not the least of which is retention and recruitment. Research from Glassdoor indicates that 75% of job seekers are likely to apply to an open position if the company offering it actively manages their employer brand. And to that end, alignment with the values, interests and career aspirations of new recruits can’t hurt.
Still, your employer brand is often only as good as your ability to communicate it, and that is where your content enters the picture. Content allows for authentic and transparent communication of the employer brand; at the same time, a cohesive employer brand helps to guide a content strategy. It’s not just that the two can work together—they must in order to be successful.
Developing and executing a solid content strategy is no easy task, in part because there are seemingly infinite options. One not uncommon content pitfall for brands is trying to do too much—from style of content to a wide audience and just too many posts. Not only does this approach threaten to burn out your content team, it also probably isn’t even what your audience wants. As our 2021 Content Fitness Report shows, most marketers are producing too much content—85% are producing more per month than is processed by the average customer. This approach can also turn your recruitment engine off in a hurry. Personalization will help but taking the time to understand your candidates and what matters to them will ultimately win out. What do they value? Are they interested in a new career track, or upskilling their breadth of experience?
The brand and how it is reflected through content should not be regarded as a limitation but rather as a starting point and direction—and even a safe haven as businesses look to experiment with their approach.
By establishing the employer brand as a grounding force for the content strategy, brands can set necessary guardrails for content type, audience and tone.
If, for example, your employer brand is as a people-driven tech start-up, your content will need to reflect an innovative approach to business that highlights employee experience and perspective. If your brand is a traditional advertising agency, maybe your content strategy emphasizes high quality, inspiring content delivered through more mainstream methods—blog posts, newsletters, photography. This year, as PAN refocused on employee training and growth and simultaneously pivoted to a HyFlex work model, it was important to share this evolution of the brand through our employee spotlights campaign. Taking the time to showcase our employees’ experiences through their authentic voices helped to better align the business with candidates who needed to understand the emotional side of joining a firm.
For either side of the coin, or indeed any of the vast grey area between, the brand and how it is reflected through content should not be regarded as a limitation but rather as a starting point and direction—and even a safe haven as businesses look to experiment with their approach.
The employer brand/content strategy relationship is a two-way street, and to whatever extent businesses can use their brand to drive content, they will likely find the other lane even easier to navigate.
An employer brand is comprised of many different components. It’s what gives brands nuance and is often the reason businesses can hire diverse and dynamic employees. But those many components can also make for an unwieldy management task.
If one or more components gets lost in the shuffle—or blown out of proportion—a business risks skewed perception of their brand. Content helps to solve this problem by giving a business multiple opportunities across pillars—whether its DEI, company culture, training and development or employee experience and recognition—and platforms to communicate a balanced representation of the brand.
Data collected for the 2021 Content Fitness Report reveals one particularly underutilized area of content distribution. Alignment between existing employee experience and employer brand is critical to hiring and retention, but few businesses are investing in turning their employees into brand advocates. When surveyed, nearly 53% of marketers said that 25% or less of their overall marketing strategy goes to supporting employee social media channels. Particularly when it comes to distributing employer brand content, employees are a largely untapped resource.
Businesses also have the chance to use content both reactively and proactively depending on their need. If a business acquisition from a few months back has obscured new culture initiatives, the business could push a series of social posts to highlight employee experience. PAN, for example, has leveraged this model to continue showcasing our unique approach to remote work. In April 2021, our CEO Phil Nardone penned a Forbes piece on the future of hybrid workforces. That piece appeared again in Thrive Global in June, and he wrote a separate article for O’Dwyer’s in early July. This approach preceded a mid-July announcement on the site of our industry-standard HyFlex work model, as well as the recent debut of our virtual community. Each angle connects to and builds from the others, enabling us to dive deeper into the pillar of culture within the content strategy.
PAN was fortunate to able to use communication proactively, but it can be deployed as a planned response as well. In the circumstance that a business faces downsizing, for example, they could prepare a blog or release ahead of layoffs to address the issue head on once it becomes public knowledge.
As the business seeks to integrate content strategy with employer brand, close alignment between the marketing and HR teams will be critical. Talent acquisition and retention initiatives spearheaded by HR, for example, should be reflected in marketing content and distributed not only on the company website but also across social channels. In addition to showcasing the employer brand, this tactic also pairs those efforts with other business drivers to help build revenue.
Wins and challenges are inevitable for any business. A plan for highlighting and managing them must be just as inevitable, and a cohesive approach to employer brand and content strategy can provide critical guidance.