Top in Talent: What You Can Learn from Lou

August 30, 2013

Launching a talent attraction campaign is a major undertaking – and one in which many economic development professionals and organizations are starting to play a leading role. So what should you incorporate in your campaign, how much should you spend, and what’s the best way to attract talent to your community?

While there’s not one magic answer to those questions, there are several campaigns across North America and around the world that we think are using innovative approaches to marketing their regions to skilled professionals. In a series of upcoming blogs, we’ll highlight several talent attraction campaigns that represent best practices from our perspective, outlining how they came about, what makes them stand out and the biggest lessons learned in launching these initiatives.

Talent Attraction Campaign Greater Louisville IncTo kick off the series, we spoke with Mackenzie Woodward, director of talent attraction and community development for Greater Louisville Inc., which has a multifaceted talent attraction campaign that’s comprised of many different tools, websites and initiatives – all with the main goal of connecting to people and driving more talent to Louisville.

Programs include:

What DCI Loves About the Campaign:

  • The Campaign Name, for Starters…The Lou (no pun intended) lends itself to a lot of great uses – and it’s short, sweet and memorable, a la Live In Lou, Work In Lou, Friend of Lou.
  • The Playful Language…Who doesn’t want to move to a place that calls itself “Possibility City”? It seems like a place where all your dreams might possibly come true. And this tongue-in-cheek attitude carries itself all the way throughout the website, speaking directly to the reader in a witty way.
  • The Stylized Images of the City…Rather than the usual cut and dried image of a city skyline and straightforward fonts, this website screams fun and…wait for it…possibility. It’s quirky – and in our book, that’s good, since it looks like no one else’s campaign.
  • And We Could Go On…It’s colorful, making you want to click through and explore. Did we mention there’s a “sweat-free job-search search”? Last but not least, it embraces the international community – something we haven’t seen many other communities do.

Campaign Start Date:

Louisville’s talent campaign began in 2007, but it’s been a fluid, ever-changing process since then, with new programs added and new sites created and updated.

Budget:

When Louisville launched the campaign, the budget was small – about $1,500. Most work (including writing copy, graphic design and web layout) was done in-house. Now, the overall budget includes funding from companies, sponsorships, grants and other outlets.

DCI: What’s innovative or unique about your campaign when compared to others across the country?

Woodward: Our Greater Louisville International Professional Program. It’s really unique, and I have not really seen something quite as robust or internationally-focused in other cities. I’m really proud of that program. It has a fantastic following. We represent 99 countries, and all events are sold out, with 400-500 international professionals at each event. It’s a great example of a success story in trying something new. Five years ago I wrote a proposal for grant money to seed this and get started, and was not sure what would take shape and now this is an example of a success for us.

DCI: Why did you decide to create this campaign?

Woodward: About seven years ago, we were thinking about talent attraction, including developing programs, and wanted something different than traditional workforce solutions. The overarching idea resulted from those initial brainstorms, and we began to focus on innovative campaigns and tools. It was a little organic, and we started in 2000 with Louisville Reunion, which is a little out of the box. As opportunities came along, we started adding programs to the portfolio. It evolved over time.

DCI: How does your campaign compare to other talent attraction campaigns?

Woodward: I think we were maybe a little ahead of the curve in the way we thought about talent attraction campaigns six years ago. A lot of people were doing traditional workforce solutions and training programs, and now a lot of cities have adopted more of a robust talent attraction strategy. We’ve talked with other chambers and cities that have looked at Intern to Earn, and now they’re looking at launching their own.

DCI: Is your campaign working? How do you measure success?

Woodward: Yes, we think it is. Success is broken down by program and initiative so we don’t have an overall metric.  We look at how each program is moving the needle a bit, whether it’s membership for the talent attraction forum, how many employers we’re reaching out to, how representative our membership is, or are we representing different countries in the International Professionals program? There are a lot of ways to break down measurement of programs. Measuring can happen in a million different ways.

DCI: What advice or lessons learned can you share with other cities and regions looking to start new talent attraction campaigns, or update existing campaigns?

Woodward: One thing that has been instrumental is our community partners, regional workforce investments, and creating a resource or program that’s really needed. I think the talent attraction forum is a great example.  We started with a few HR folks from a few large corporations, and they were saying they’d love to get together … they’ve been a great sounding board to bounce ideas off. Universities are also huge partners for us, and whoever those key partners in your region might be, it’s about getting together and working closely with them.

Does your city, region or state have a talent attraction campaign, or are you in the process of launching a new one? We want to hear about it. Email Erin.Bodine@aboutdci.com with details.

Written by Erin Bodine

Erin Bodine is an account director at DCI, overseeing the firm’s talent attraction services. She has worked on behalf of nearly 20 communities, ranging from Carrollton, Texas, and San Diego, Calif., to the country of Colombia, and the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. Her work in the area of talent attraction includes campaigns for the Wyoming Business Council and Wake County Economic Development’s “Work in the Triangle” initiative.

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1 Comment

  • Lyndsay with MyPA says:

    Attracting and retaining good talent requires supporting initiatives like this one. Great on Louisville for recognizing that getting great citizens takes a lot more involvement than just the human resources department of one company!

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