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Public Relations: The Recruiter’s Secret Weapon


“Marketing is the new recruiting.” It’s a phrase that has been bandied about the Internet quite a bit recently. In fact, I’ve done so myself. But, to get more specific, have you considered public relations (PR) for recruiting?

You should, and the reason is simple: by building your employer brand, you can increase the quantity and quality of potential candidates. For example, Software Advice was recently featured in a CNNMoney article focused on 10 hard-to-fill jobs. Our hard-to-fill position, Content Savant, was listed as one of the ten.

The result: a flood of resumes, and an influx of traffic to our careers page. In the two days following the article’s publish date, we received between 250 and 300 applications.

Number of Applications

Content Savant Applications

But, just as companies can use PR to attract a significant volume of new applicants, it can also be an essential tool to create a strong employer brand. It can help you draw attention to your unique company benefits, culture and achievements (e.g. “best workplace” or “fastest-growing company” awards).

Here are few ways your company can leverage PR for your own recruiting benefit.

Help Yourself by Helping a Reporter Out

The above PR win was the result of using a simple tool: Help A Reporter Out, or HARO. Founded in 2008, HARO is a way for reporters researching a story to quickly connect with subject matter experts. As the site says, “From The New York Times, to ABC News, and everyone in between, nearly 30,000 members of the media have quoted HARO sources in their stories. Everyone’s an expert at something.”

And you are, too. You’re a subject matter expert in an area that is written about extensively on popular media sites: career advice, interviewing best practices, how to find the right job, etc. Many professionals are looking for insider advice; so are journalists. You can help by offering insights and opinions based on your experience. In the process, you’ll gain exposure for your company and its open jobs.

When you sign up for HARO, you’ll start receiving emails with queries from journalists. Pick the ones that are most relevant to your field, then offer up an interview with the expert—in this case, you or your company’s head of HR. Provide a few usable quotes, your email address and phone number, and offer to answer any follow-up questions they might have.

It’s a simple process—as easy as sending an email—and well worth the effort. Just look at that spike in applications our company saw from a single HARO success!

Raise Awareness About Your Great Perks

Once you’ve mastered HARO, you can execute on another great tactic: get the word out about your company’s benefits and perks. Garnering attention for your unique benefits can, again, help you attract candidates. But, it can also be the clincher when trying to hire in competitive job markets.

Take, for example, our Work Abroad Program. We allow employees to work abroad from anywhere in the world (with reliable Internet connectivity, of course) for a whole month. This is in addition to offering three weeks of paid vacation, health and dental insurance, 401K options, a fully stocked kitchen and a company-sponsored bootcamp three times a week.

This is a wonderful perk, and it influenced many top performers to accept an offer of employment with us when other options were on the table. In order to get the word out to a broader audience, we approached a national business publication, Fox Business, and landed this placement.

How did we do this? First, we wrote an article about it, and then shared it with a reporter who had sent out a HARO query for companies with cool perks. As you can see, HARO’s paid off for our company, not once, but twice. If you’ve got great perks, chances are there’s a publication that wants to hear about them. Just keep your eyes open.

Seek Out Business Awards

Another strategy we’ve used at Software Advice to build awareness about our employment brand is to research and apply for local and national business awards. For example, through corporate PR efforts, our company made it onto this year’s Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing companies in the United States.

In addition to national awards such as the Inc. 5000, there are local award programs across the country that are equally as important for gaining recognition and appealing to candidates. For instance, we were recently named among Austin’s 50 Fastest growing companies by The Austin Business Journal. Since then, applicants have repeatedly mentioned this award, as well as our Inc. 5000 award, as reasons for their interest in our company. They want to be part of a winning team, and we’re happy to have them.

Let Them Know You Care

Finally, millennials are making up a greater and greater percentage of the workforce. Eighty-five percent of working millennials prefer to have a job at a company that makes a positive difference in the world, according to John Zogby, the author of First Globals Understanding, Managing, & Unleashing the Potential of Our Millennial Generation. If you’re involved with—or plan to get involved with—a nonprofit or other type of charitable organization, you should let potential employees know!

Recently, Software Advice donated money to a local charity called HeartGift Austin, which provides life-saving surgery to children with heart conditions. Through our company’s donations, a young girl named Confidence underwent a life-saving procedure that was unavailable in her home country of Nigeria. Employees were invited to donate money, as well as their time. Before her surgery, we were encouraged to read stories to Confidence, have dinner with her at our CEO’s home, or show her and her mother around Austin. It was a rewarding experience for all those involved.

After the surgery was completed, HeartGift Austin sent out a press release. We’re hoping that the coverage will raise awareness not only for a great organization, but will get the attention of potential candidates with an interest in our business, as well as making a positive difference in the world around them.

PR has allowed us to gain exposure in national and local media outlets. It has increased awareness about our brand, and at the same time, it has allowed us to attract a larger pool of job candidates. Now, you can do the same for your organization!

Have you had success using PR for recruiting? Share your story in the comments section below.

Thumbnail image created by Fletcher Prince.

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About the Author

Erin Osterhaus joined Software Advice in 2012 after earning an M.A. in German and European Studies from Georgetown University. She focuses on the HR market, offering advice to industry professionals on the best recruiting, talent management, and leadership techniques.

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