Admission. And, speaking at Eurocomm 2008.

I re-read some of my posts from 2008 to chart my observations over the previous year.  How’s that for pure vanity?

In hindsight, I was pretty rough on the recruitment advertising industry and the recruitment industry.  I think most of it was fair comment.  On the other hand, you can’t blame people for changing and adapting their offer, their strategies and their business models to face the challenges and changes of their marketplace. 

Maybe this brings me full circle.  Employer brand is the sum total of the content and the experience of the employee’s journey through your attraction, recruitment, retention and development process.  It’s the glue that goes between ads, web forms and databases. That’s the reason why, perhaps, I rail against recruitment agencies and recruitment marketing agencies periodically.  And, I must admit they are getting better.  Any business in that arena should be acquiring talent and building capability like mad if they want to stay in the game.  

I’ve also learned a lot this year, and to be honest my biggest learnings and insights have been about the linkages between recruitment and its role in attraction and, more importantly, retention.  Now, I know that sounds blindingly obvious; and I feel well adept at brand engagement with existing employees.  But I believe the insight is that the mechanics of recruitment — attracting, filtering, assessing, hiring, on boarding people — is still too disconnected from the brand building elements of it.  This is, of course, the essence of employer branding.  And even well-known recruitment marketing and recruitment agencies are delivering only half of the story — sometimes dressed up in very clever and creative design work, but still not a strategically viable employer brand.

I have a client opportunity for a really interesting, near £1billion business, so I’ve done some sniffing around their competitors’ websites to suss out their “employer brands.”  Some sites are good, some are pretty poor, all have terrible usability, but all of them are about getting “bums in seats” — filling roles in an environment of hard-to-find quality candidates.  You can search for vacancies by role and by geography, download CV templates to fill in and upload, and use some pretty sophisticated technology.

Mechanically, they are virtually identical in form and function.

But they aren’t selling the employer.  They aren’t selling their difference, and why that difference matters.  They are wasting golden opportunities at every stage of the process to tell their story and make emotional connections, not just “I want a job” connections.


I’ve been asked to speak at Eurocomm 2008 – the International Association of Business Communictors (IABC) Annual European Conference.  There are some great speakers lined up, so I feel like a bit of a pinch-hitter as I’m filling in for a speaker who has had to pull out.  I’m presenting two quite interesting case studies from SAS clients that show how audience focus (all too often forgotten in the mix these days) can really shape your communications.  (Another obvious comment, I know).

 Talk about selling the sizzle, not the sausage, try this on for size:

Have YOU been communicating with a fictitious construct?According to the Wikipedia, an audience is a group of people who participate in an experience or encounter a work of art, literature, theatre, music or academics in any medium. Audience members participate in different ways in different kinds of media; some events invite overt audience participation and others allowing only modest interaction, criticism and reception.  With a specific focus on rhetoric, which is generally understood to be the art or technique of persuasion through the use of oral, visual, or written language, some have suggested that the audience is a construct made up by the rhetoric and the rhetorical situation the communication is addressing. Others say communicators actually can target their communication to address a real audience. Still others try to mingle these two approaches and create situations where audience is “fictionalized,” but in recognition of some real attributes of the actual audience.As deliberately academic and theoretical as this sounds, too often in business communication we forget that audiences are not actually who we define them to be. Kevin will walk through some interesting internal communication solutions several leading organisations have used to address the audience segmentation dilemma. That gives me a real challenge – living up to that advert…