Category : Blog

Branding for Talent Recruitment – It’s Different Than Tourism

Carlsbad #nocoatneeded post

Cities competing to attract what Richard Florida calls the “creative class,” or an educated workforce, to drive their local economies face a distinct challenge in presenting themselves in the best light. That’s because place branding for relocation is different than branding for tourism.

Relocation of residency involves choices based on: lifestyle; longer term consequences such as career trajectories; quality of life; amenities regarding education and technology; cultural activities; social values; and family and cultural compatibility (Silvanto and Ryan, 2009, p. 104).

To be successful in attracting talent, cities must be effective in describing the identity, or essence, of a place. This is usually understood as its characteristics, a description that is often formed through case studies and data which describes the tangible, real-world, details. These details can include demographics of the residents; domestic growth rates; and percentage of open space for recreation.

But data and statistics alone don’t communicate the “reality” that is perceived by the target audience (Zenker, 2011).

In the words of urbanist Jane Jacobs, successful places are multidimensional and diverse, they do not cater to a single industry or a single demographic group. They are full of stimulation and creativity interplay (Silvanto and Ryan, 2015 a, p. 107).

Intangible qualities of a location – such as excitement and conviviality – are an essential part of creating a unique destination brand personality (Ekinci and Hosany (2006)).

For example, the City of Carlsbad is a hotbed for several technology categories – which also means a need for skilled, creative professionals. At the same time, the city, as well as the companies in the area, provides a great quality of life and an enviable work-life balance. Quality of life can be communicated in terms of miles of hiking trails, miles of beaches, the number of restaurants, and test scores for schools.

While data has its place in a campaign, numbers can fall short in communicating the satisfaction you feel after an early morning, pre-work, surf session. Or the comfortable summertime ambiance of a local craft-brew pub, windows wide open to passersby on the sidewalk.

Story telling through images is the best way to communicate these intangible qualities of a region.  And social media platforms, especially Instagram and Facebook, are the best vehicles to reach the right audiences for cities trying to attract professional talent. Through social media, stories are told in bite-sized installments, which add up to a compelling narrative, if done right.

A social media post of a photo of a real resident paddling out in the first morning light, follow-up images of her at work with like-minded and happy coworkers, and shots of a group of people enjoying a meal at a local eatery, are effective ways to communicate the work life balance that these cities offer.

At Cook + Schmid we have worked on a number of campaigns using social media to project an image of a location that resonates with prospects. Here are some other tips from our experience that contribute to an effective campaign to reinforce place branding through social media:

  • Make sure content is aligned with your true values. You can’t fake it!
  • Don’t make your images look too posed or professional
  • Reinforce your key messages by being consistent in the themes you choose
  • Best of all, prompt users to generate content themselves, because the most genuine and valuable stories come from users themselves

Silvanto, Sari & Ryan, Jason (2014). Relocation branding: a strategic framework for attracting talent from abroad: Journal of Global Mobility, Vol. 2, No. 1

Zenker, Sebastian (2011). How to catch a city? The concept and measurement of place brands: Journal of Place Management and Development, Vol. 4, No. 1

Ekinci, Yuksel & Hosany, Sameer (2006). Destination Personality: An Application of Brand Personality to Tourism Destinations, Vol. 45, No. 2, pp. 127-139

Understanding Your Audience – Baby Boomers

Note: This blog is part of a series for marketers which describes the characteristics, values and preferences of various generations.


Baby Boomers

Baby BoomersThe last generation analyzed in this blog series are the Baby Boomers. Individuals in this generation were born between 1946 and 1964. According the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2015 there were 75.4 million baby boomers making them one of the largest generations in U.S. history. Baby Boomers were born after World War II when the United States experienced a sharp rise in birth rates. They grew up as technology, like television, was emerging.

Baby Boomers place high importance on careers, money, hard work, recognition and prestige. According to Value Options, they value individual choice, community involvement, prosperity, ownership, self-actualizing, and health and wellness.

Baby Boomers use both new and old technology. Their most used form of communication is a cell phone followed by broadband at home, a smartphone and tablet. Additionally, they prefer email more than text. They are likely to use the Internet for email, search engines, hobbies, directions and health information. To effective influence this audience, your marketing or public relations strategy should include carefully selected online, broadcast and print communication channels.

Of all the social media sites, Baby Boomers can best be reached via Facebook with 52 percent of the younger boomers and 46 percent of the older boomers on Facebook. They are just beginning to warm up to other social media platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram.

According to WordStream, “The Boomers are the most likely to misunderstand Facebook remarketing ads clogging up their Newsfeeds but still are receptive to direct marketing and sales tactics; they like to talk to real people.” Although Baby Boomers are beginning to use technology and social media platforms more, they still prefer face-to-face communication more than any other form of communication. They tend to be wary of the impacts these gadgets and platforms have on society (Pew Research Study).

Public relations professionals should use social media platforms to build trust with Baby Boomers by being transparent and factual in their communications. Content targeted to this generation must be clear, simple and concise or they will quickly become skeptical of the organization’s authenticity. Facebook is the best platform to reach Boomers because they are just beginning to become engaged with networking sites such as Twitter and Instagram. Old media, more specifically television, tends to be the most viewed/used form of media.

Understanding Your Audience – Generation X

Note: This blog is part of a series for marketers which describes the characteristics, values and preferences of various generations.

Generation X


Generation X

Members of Generation X are the parents of Millennials and Gen Z. They were born between 1965 and 1980. Individuals in this generation are sometimes called “latchkey children,” because both of their parents worked, which led them to be unsupervised most of the time. As they grew up, there was also an increase in divorce rates and tough economic times.

Gen X is much smaller in size compared to Millennials and Baby Boomers. They are known to hold significantly different characteristics than younger generations although early members hold traits of Baby Boomers and late members have some Millennial traits (Maye Create Design).

Gen Xers are considered skeptical and quick to question, goal-oriented and multi-taskers. Additionally, they value freedom, flexibility, recognition, mobility and diversity. They focus on value, are financially responsible and self-reliant leading them to respond better to factual messages that demonstrate cost versus value. It’s important for this generation to get a good value for their hard-earned dollars. Keep these attributes in mind, particularly the focus on value, when crafting your public relations or marketing messages.

When it comes to technology, Gen X adapts well to new technologies. They grew up during the emergence of the personal computer, lived through the dot-com bust and the introduction of the cell phone. According to Nielsen’s Generational Snapshot Study, “At 70 percent, Generation X leads the way in terms of national tablet penetration.”

Although this group is technologically savvy, they still gravitate toward traditional media platforms. A study shows that 48 percent listen to the radio, 62 percent still read newspapers and 85 percent have favorite television shows (Forrestor Research). When communicating with Gen X, traditional channels should not be overlooked because a clear majority still value information from these sources. An integrated public relations or marketing strategy, incorporating both digital and traditional communications, is typically the most effective in engaging this group.

Their quick adoption of new technologies and comfort in traditional media platforms allow Gen X to be reached by multiple communication channels. “A survey by Millward Brown Digital found that 60 percent of Xers use a smartphone daily and 75 percent are routinely on social networks” (Ad Week). Communication channels such as email and email marketing work well for this generation. The tone of the message should be informational, and emphasize the benefits received.

Email marketing campaigns can be effective when trying to get their attention and so can other platforms such as social media, television and radio. While Gen Xers like a more-straight forward approach, they can still appreciate a humorous message when done well.

Understanding Your Audience – Millennials

Note: This blog is part of a series for marketers which describes the characteristics, values and preferences of various generations.

Generation Y


Generation Y

Generation Y, better known as Millennials, were born between 1981 and 1997. This group includes more than 60 million people in the United States. This generation is constantly being studied and analyzed for their distinctly different lifestyles and values than prior generations. They are more digital- and tech-savvy than previous generations. For this reason, they favor digital communication and new media and are difficult to reach via traditional platforms such as broadcast or print.

Millennials believe each digital communication platform serves a different purpose. They tend to assign unique uses for each platform or application. For example, email is for serious communication and social media is for fun messages. Email is used for work or school while social media is for friends. According to a consumer purchase preference survey by MarketingSherpa, 59 percent of female and 48 percent of male Millennials preferred email on their smartphone when they are away from their computers. Millennials can be easily reached via smartphone at many hours of the day. Their comfort level using social media and the Internet leads Millennials to spend an average of 25 hours online every week.

Like Gen Zers, it’s important to send your messages via digital platforms to reach Millennials. They receive a large portion of news via social media and are greatly influenced from what they learn online. For example, Millennials are twice as likely to buy something they have learned about via social media compared to older generations.

As far as content goes, Millenials respond better to user-generated content, which gives them an opportunity to immerse themselves in the experience (Mashable). Social media campaigns targeting Millennials should be aware that this group is drawn to online experiences and get even more engaged with experiences they can share with others. They live in their own digital world and continuously share their lives with friends online.

A marketing or promotional campaign that gives Millennials opportunities to post their own content such as videos, photos and posts is exciting to this group. Campaigns, like online photo contests, are particularly appealing. This audience is also particularly well suited for targeted digital marketing programs and advertising campaigns.

Overall, when communicating with Millennials, remember that they incorporate social media and the Internet into their everyday lives. Choosing to engage them through television or radio would more than likely reach only a few. They like to actively participate in social media efforts and respond better to two-way communication.

Understanding Your Audience – Generation Z

Note: This blog is part of a series for marketers which describes the characteristics, values and preferences of various generations.

Generation ZGeneration Z

Generation Z, also known as digital natives, were born between 1998 and 2009. This cohort was born in a generation that experienced the exponential growth of technology over a relatively short period of time. Gen Zers are the first generation to grow up with the Internet and social media platforms, which makes them a very technologically savvy group. They are known to be highly educated, diverse individuals who value making a difference in the world.

Gen Zers spend a lot of time on their phones and online. They are exceptional multitaskers, and tend to search the web, message their friends and scroll through social media sites at the same time. Members of this group respond better to exciting, engaging content that is clever and visually appealing.

Gen Zers place a higher importance on some social media sites more than others. According to The Center for Generational Kinetics, “Gen Z views Facebook as being for ‘older generations.’” Gen Zers also dislike Facebook because it’s too cluttered and uses more personal information than other social media sites. Their top social media sites include Instagram and Snapchat, which allow users to have a more direct, personal relationship with friends and followers, and are also visually appealing because of the emphasis placed on photos and videos on these platforms. Snapchat’s emphasis on temporary content is also appealing to Gen Zers.

According to the Center for Generational Kinetics, “42 percent of Gen Z feels that social media has a direct impact on how they feel about themselves.” This statistic is important; it expresses how impactful social media is on the lives of more than 23 million individuals. If social media can influence the way a person feels about themselves, it can also greatly influence how a person feels about an organization or cause.

What does this all mean for public relations and marketing professionals? When communicating with Gen Zers, keep three things in mind. First, be knowledgeable of the platforms Gen Zers spend most of their time on to better reach this audience. Second, create content that allows Gen Zers to participate and feel as if they can be contributors. User-generated content draws this group in and gives them a sense of belonging and importance. Third, visual appeal is held at highest regard and should not be compromised.

Solving the San Diego Housing Crisis will Take Hard Work

The Business of Housing Panel_EditedSan Diego’s housing crisis has complex roots and defies easy answers. But one thing is certain, if we don’t find solutions for housing affordability, the region will feel the negative effects profoundly. That was the topic discussed by a panel at the CityAge conference held this week at the San Diego Central Library.

The panel, moderated by San Diego Union-Tribune reporter Roger Showley, consisted of local and out of town experts. Turns out, San Diego is not alone in feeling the crunch.

“We are a victim of our own success,”  said Samuel Assefa, Director of Planning and Community Development, City of Seattle. “Many other large cities similar to Seattle and San Diego, including San Francisco, Boulder, and Austin, have the same story. With the population and number of jobs increasing, there effectively needs to be more supply to keep costs down.”

San Diego is constrained in its ability to build in outlying regions because of its geography. Other hurdles include: cost of construction, cost of materials, cost of the quality-of-life decisions which relate to housing decisions (i.e. Climate Action Plan), and government regulations.

Lynn Reaser, Chief Economist, Fermanian Business & Economic Institute, Point Loma Nazarene University, repeated her oft-cited research that found 40 percent of the cost of a house locally is related to government regulations.

Marco Sessa, senior vice president, Sudberry, who is developing several thousand multi-family units in Mission Valley, confirms that the cost equation is very difficult, and that as we innovate housing types we must rewrite and shape regulations as well.

The median price of a home in San Diego is now $512,000, which is only $5,000 less than the all-time high in 2005. And the panelists agreed this is a product of the simple supply-and-demand rule of economics:  With a continual rise in population in San Diego and less developable land, demand is higher, supply is limited and prices inexorably go up.

Some solutions discussed were to build more cost-effective housing, finance specialized or workforce housing, partner with employers, and garner the support and collaboration of thought leaders coming together to address the crisis.

Reaser mentioned that she and other leading organizations have become involved in the Housing You Matters coalition with the priority to increase the supply of housing for all income levels. With demand not anticipated to decline, the housing costs will continue to go up and out of reach for many residents.

Unfortunately, the panel demonstrated there aren’t any easy answers to housing affordability in San Diego. And as Showley said after the event, the panel might have raised more questions than it answered. But, if the best and brightest minds in the region work together, we can find creative solutions to our biggest challenge. Be part of the solution and attend one of Housing San Diego’s Future’s events.

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