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DMOs: Drive Talent on Heels of Remote Worker Trend

It’s 2021 and this isn’t your grandmother’s talent recruitment process. Not by a longshot.

Things are changing as unemployment figures settle after a trying 2020 and jobseekers are back on the market. Remote working makes living in one place and working in another much less taboo than ever before. Digital nomad culture is on the rise as people are also realizing that big city living may not be the only path to success. Towns in Italy are paying people to work remotely, while Belize offers a “Work Where You Vacation” program.

Knowing that 59 percent of job seekers report that first-hand experience is how they form location impressions, destination organizations are wising-up to these changes and are finding innovative ways to promote themselves as exciting, fresh destinations for talent looking to relocate. The most progressive DMOs understand that even during a pandemic, inspiring people to live and remote work in a destination is just as important as inspiring future vacations.

As the shine of living on a tropical island dulls a bit and the pandemic tapers down, it’s time for destinations to tune-up their talent attraction efforts. Traditional methods may not cut it, but a creative digital campaign may be the answer.

Where to start?

Having a strong website touting your attractions is a good first step, but a travel website alone is not enough. Your instinct will be to produce a page for your destination’s site and just tag it for talent. Hold up. We can do better. Think more strategically and design a brand-new campaign that celebrates your destination, touts its benefits for a remote-work lifestyle, and entices travelers to dive deeper and consider moving to your destination. Talent attraction shouldn’t be a page on a website. It should be its own event.

Hook them with an event

Start with a hook, something to pin your campaign to instead of just saying, “Hey, come work here!” No one is going to click on that, even if you think your destination is the crème de la crème. If every city in the world took that approach, none would stand out from the pack.

The goal, instead, is to generate buzz and interest through something a bit more creative. Take Destination Cleveland, for example. They took the NFL draft in 2021 as an exciting event for the city that already generated coverage, and they pinned a campaign to it. Their slogan? “Cleveland Wants to Draft You.” Clever? Yes. Witty? Sure. Effective? You bet.

By pinning to big or noteworthy events in your destination, not only do you make it more fun and engaging, but you maximize the potential for press coverage. A festival, a sporting event, a spectacular, annual holiday event in your destination – tap into it and build your campaign around it.

Cooperate with local groups

Once the idea is solidified, now it’s time to reach out for help. What Cleveland did that worked well was to reach out to local and community engagement organizations including the regional economic development and young professional group. Together, they paired the DMOs resources with the on-the-ground experience to make sure the campaign was a winning one for newcomers and existing community members.

The most dangerous thing a talent attraction campaign could do is alienate the existing community, so be sure to work together from the start. It’s easy to overlook something perceived as minor when in fact it is a major concern for the local community. Local groups will also be excited to participate in creating their image on a statewide or national level.

Build out the offer

With the idea and the collaboration in place, it’s time to build out the campaign. Major draws for job seekers are elements like home prices and cost of living, so be sure to flesh out those sections of the campaign. Connecting prospective workers with local businesses who may be hiring will also draw in more clicks.

Every destination will be different, so focus on arts and culture, outdoor appeal, or maybe something more niche like family-friendly aspects or LGBTQ-friendly environments – it’s up to you. What’s essential is that, at a glance, jobseekers understand what you’re offering and why they should visit first and then ultimately move.

Create that website

With materials in place, it’s time to create the website. Cue some daring design and gorgeous imagery. Pull it all together and make sure it’s user-friendly. A website, like this bespoke site for Destination Cleveland’s initiative, will prevent your campaign from getting lost on your destination’s website. Keep it separate and keep it simple.

Start driving traffic through targeted paid efforts, a dedicated hashtag or social handles to the campaign, if applicable, and set it all live. A classic press release to local media and trade publications will garner more attention with a catchy headline and a creative concept. How and where you share it depends on your destination’s resources, but it could be the chance to partner with local sports teams, influencers, or cultural institutions to spread the word on social media. The marketing potential is limitless.

Launch, learn, repeat

The advantage here is that this type of campaign, if planned properly, will be quick to execute, and more importantly, replicable if desired. You can even tweak it by researching the analytics to see where traffic poured in from, and where it simply trickled.

By collecting email addresses for newsletters, your ability to reach out to prospective job seekers can continue once the campaign is over. Retarget them with similar messages about visiting, moving to and living in your destination, keeping it top of mind until they make their decision.

If it all goes well, and there’s another event happening soon, you’ll have an expert blueprint to target a new wave of visitors and jobseekers in a year’s time. If the event changes, or you pin it to something else, you need only alter the creative approach. If it’s something that happens every year, you can simply refresh everything and repeat your creative tied to the campaign. You’ll become a talent attraction campaign expert in no time.

Looking to launch your own talent attraction campaign? Let DCI help. We have more than 60 years of experience helping destinations reach their goals, and attracting talent who visit first is just one part of that. Reach out to Susan Brake at [email protected] to learn more about partnering together.


Written By

Susan Brake

Susan Brake is Vice President at DCI overseeing the digital media strategy for all the firm's economic development clients. Since joining the company, she has effectively leveraged traditional and social media tactics to reach target audiences for her clients large and small.

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