Why your HR and marketing teams should be working together—an EMBARC recap [Video]

How to partner two departments that don't always work well together

We’re less than two weeks away! On October 20th, the first ever session of EMBARC® Table Talks will launch, bringing you the best practices, tips, and innovations on topics like social media recruiting, employer branding, and why HR and marketing should work together. Registration is free, and here’s the best part: because it’s virtual, you can join from anywhere!

But why just talk about it when you could sample these game-changing insights for yourself? To show you what’s in store, check out this excerpt from our 2019 EMBARC panel about the relationship and frequent tensions between HR and marketing, featuring Charlotte Marshall from Danaher, Jason Blais from CareerArc, Hannah Fleishman from Hubspot, and John Graham Jr. from Amgen.

Creating a cooperative partnership between HR and marketing

If you’re human, you’ve probably been entangled in a power struggle or two. But when it comes to being effective in employer branding, sometimes it’s not about a power grab, but a power give.

As a Fortune 500 employer brand build veteran, Charlotte Marshall has faced the same power struggle between HR and marketing half a dozen times. As Charlotte related, “What I’ve learned is that it’s a lot of change management. When you don’t have the power, if you report into HR and you have to influence and get marketing’s buy-in and support, you often have to give power away. I did a very painful giveaway at my last role that actually changed everything. And it was the 11th hour. We were trying to get some creative approved and my CMO said, ‘Absolutely not. I’m not letting this go out. I don’t like the shape of these triangles.’ And every single time she reviewed something, I’m not kidding you, it was some other nitpicky thing.”

Charlotte calmed down and became thoughtful. “I read between the lines and thought that she really wanted to have some ownership over it. So at the last minute I said, ‘You know what, Julie, I don’t think we’re going to be able to get this over the line. Would you mind if I got the working vitals and gave it to your designers, and could you show me what good would look like for you?’ And she changed it, and she did stuff to it that I was crying about thinking, ‘This is terrible,’ but you know what? I let it go. I didn’t quit. And within a couple months after activating that brand, because there was so much support, it actually got adopted as our overarching corporate brand at a Fortune 500 company. We had created such a flexible framework when we articulated it that it spoke to not only candidates, but also associates, and investors, and members of our healthcare plan with equal strength. I gave the power away, but – as painful as it was, I got so much more in return.”

“Start with the willing”

For marketers, creating genuinely engaging HR-themed social recruitment posts can be difficult—especially when it comes to relatively buttoned-up institutions like finance, banking, or pharmaceuticals. For legal or regulatory reasons, the HR culture can be fairly tight-lipped. So how can marketers break the ice?

As John G. Graham Jr. revealed, “I always say, start with the people who are willing, and then the engagement happens. They’re socially active already. They have strong networks. They’re willing to be your front runners. Then other employees or managers start to look left and right, and say, ‘Okay, I guess I can do this too.’”

Genuine enthusiasm usually translates to outstanding metrics. “Once you have the machine running, and you start seeing people posting more actively tagging and so forth, we’ll just comb the hashtags on the channels and reach out to them via email saying, ‘Hey, do you mind if we post this on the company page, to a larger audience we haven’t gotten to know yet?’ I think the big challenge is trying to convince a department, or to convince the company, about a marketing approach versus starting with the willing, and then showing them the proof of what they’re doing.”

Charlotte Marshall added that once the socially bold have begun posting, other employees and departments naturally want to get in on the action. “Organizations I work for are really competitive, so I like to start and do a small pilot, and then it gets the natural competitive juices going. If you can articulate the return on those campaigns, share it. As a result, other leaders, other business units, other divisions start to want to get more engaged.”

Using your HR and marketing resources (and outsources) wisely

Making HR and marketing work together isn’t just about give and take: it’s about understanding strengths and weaknesses. Both Hannah Fleischman and Charlotte Marshall have discovered that getting great creative support is about knowing when to ask for help inside, when to outsource, and when to just DIY.

“I use external agency resources and it’s been different at different organizations I’ve been part of,” Charlotte explained. “But I will say being in HR, and trying to get internal creative support, I always fell to the bottom of the pile in terms of priority, and the internal chargebacks were not cheap either. So I often found it easier to just have some creative retainer hours so that I could send stuff over to agencies. The folks that work internally at the organizations, they’re good at the production work, but when you’re doing new conceptual work and you want some really strong creative, I find that stronger on the agency side.”

For Hannah, sometimes it’s about making the most out of what her own team can offer. “I push my team to get really good at creative. We’re by no means professional designers or videographers. But luckily our brand standards do not have to be anything sophisticated, or very professional, or incredibly scrappy. I encourage my team to use Facebook live video, shoot video on their phones, use Canva for everything that we design. So we do all the creative ourselves.”

See you at EMBARC!

Ready for EMBARC? Here’s how you can join.

EMBARC Table Talks

Register now for our next session of EMBARC:

  • Attending. It’s completely free, so be sure to sign up soon.
  • Participating. Great content is just one component; there’s also lively discussion. You can literally pull up a virtual chair and participate in roundtable discussions, join in on speed networking with other attendees, and book 1:1 consultations to dive into your social recruiting strategy. Participate when and how you please.
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