Recently, so much focus has been dedicated to the rise of online communication channels and the “death” of everything else. Who hasn’t heard that everything nowadays happens online? We discuss the rise of web 2.0 and the impact of the social media, but what does reality actually look like? What we all are trying to find out is: What is the smartest channel for our strategic communication? The answer is – there is no simple answer!
When we look more closely at young talent as a target group, and their preferred choice of communication channels, the reality is more complex. According to a new report[1, 2] from Research Now and K&A Brand Research that focuses on American teens’ online behaviors, teens don’t necessarily embrace everything digital. Instead, the findings show that, when comparing online and offline communications for advertising messages, offline messages tend to have more of an impact. The findings indicate that online messages and ads, which are sometimes perceived as annoying and confusing, have a long way to go in winning over teens. On the other hand, choosing to avoid online channels entirely would exclude you a stage where everyone else is standing – even if the stage is crowded.
So what are we saying here, you might wonder? Online or print? We say both! Instead of putting all your eggs in one basket, it’s smarter to surround your audience with your communication and use different channels in a strategic communication effort.
The most important aspect of all communication planning is to have one coherent message – regardless of what channel you use. The next step is adapting the message depending on the choice of channel. When it comes to your strategic employer branding communication, the key to a successful message is to always ask yourself how the message is connected to your employer value proposition – how well does it correlate with the values you, as an employer, are associated with?
Since communication is such an important aspect of strategic employer branding work, Universum has conducted the Communicating with Talent survey for the past four years. The survey focuses on the target group’s preferences when it comes to communication choices and highlights trends within the most efficient channels for attracting students and young professionals.
The survey results show us that, when it comes to becoming aware of and learning more about an employer, different channels serve different purposes. The most effective channel depends on the target group’s place in the recruitment, as well as how much they know about you as an employer. To build familiarity, the communication needs to have a wide reach and show the talent who you are. The target group begins the process either with no perception of you, because they haven’t encountered you before, or with a perception of you based on your regular brand communication or messages in other channels. To build awareness, it’s important to reach the target group in a trustworthy setting that will give them the right associations with your employer brand. Universum’s research indicates that print channels are effective in this stage of the funnel. Print media has the potential to reach a wider target group that isn’t necessarily actively seeking information about you as an employer.
Universum’s research shows that the closer a potential employee is to his or her specific target employer, the more impact online media channels will have. In this sense, print channels should be understood as a teaser or, even better, as a net. The net collects many potential employees and its function is to inform people and get them aware and interested. Ultimately, the goal is to keep the right people in the net. If the content influences people enough that they want to go further and get to know an employer better, it’s a good sign that they have become strongly interesting in working with you and want to know you better. At this point, they probably want to speak with you or connect with you through social media.
The conclusion is that different media channels cannot exclude one other; everything is with, not instead of. To achieve the best results, you need to build your communication up from the base. Even if it is sometimes tempting to jump one step ahead, there’s a good chance you will regret it later on. Surround the audience with your message and you will achieve the best result.
Don’t think print; don’t think online. Think smart communication!
Sanna Burman is Universum´s Global Head of Communication Solutions.