How the Digital Age has Changed the HR Marketing & PR Game

May 19th, 2016

by Hannah Morgan

The definition behind recruitment is to enlist people to join your organization or business. Many years ago, recruiters did this by picking up a physical phone book and calling candidates by going down the list of names. Today, the resources to aid us in recruiting are unlimited. The digital age has transformed the world of recruiting. We have LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google, Job boards, and the list goes on…

However, in West Michigan we have a very unique community where perhaps solely utilizing technology isn’t the answer. Earlier this week I attended a luncheon event co-sponsored by the AMA West Michigan Chapter and the PRSA West Michigan Chapter, where a panel of local marketing professionals came together to share with us some of their best practices, challenges, and philosophies.

These five questions below summarize some great takeaways for West Michigan recruiters!


Have social media platforms made it easier or harder to recruit top talent?

Social media has made it easier for both the candidate and the company to research one another. Thus, if you are going to dig deeper into one candidate’s profile, remember to do it for everyone, making it an even playing field. On the other hand, candidates can research your business too – so try to give the audience a clear and realistic image of what your company is all about.

Another challenge that we face with digital recruiting is the online resume. It often doesn’t give the most accurate comprehension of who a candidate truly is or it hasn’t been updated to their most recent location. It is helpful to set up a time to meet with them in person to gain the true perspective.

How does a brand help or hurt when you are recruiting a candidate?

Having a well-known brand is huge. Your brand can attract people from all over, but there are other ways to assist in attracting talent using a “brand” even if your logo isn’t the most prominent name.

The brand at OST is our employees. Our culture is unique and allows us to compete with big companies that wouldn’t be expected of us.” Mike Lomonaco, Director of Marketing & Communications, Open System Technologies (OST)

OST employees share stories through the company blog, personal interaction, and by giving back to the local community.

Mary Free Bed prides itself on their culture. Our people are our #1 asset. Mary Free Bed allows their patients to tell the story which their social media team shares through photo, video, and blog.

What is the greatest barrier to retaining talent?

  • Competition – combat the competition by making your work environment the BEST
  • Poaching – bring people in by showing them what you have to offer
  • Shortages – win candidates over by highlighting the importance of employee engagement and culture within your company – and when there is a shortage in your field, use technology to source like crazy for more candidates

How do you show and express your culture to candidates?

It is so important to find a way to stand out and make a connection with candidates.

  • Utilize all social media platforms by posting videos, testimonials, and relevant content.
  • Take them out on a tour of the community to experience it in person.
  • Introduce them to the team and let them see the office. 

Definition of awesome culture: “In IT and Tech, there are things we can’t change – hours, project plans, it’s a high stress industry, and there are always inherent challenges – we can’t change that. But we can control the environment that fosters creativity, and when our employees leave everyday that they have more than enough energy when they go home to do the things they love – coach, volunteer, and be with family.” – Mike, OST

How does Mary Free Bed showcase their culture to candidates? See for yourself.

How do you continue to stay in touch with passive candidates?

There are multiple ways to stay connected with passive candidates. Of course, there are databases that can remind you to check in, but there are more relational methods too!

Cindy Brown, Executive Director of Hello West Michigan, offers a bi-monthly newsletter full of information about upcoming events, opportunities to get involved in the community, and contact info for all their social media platforms.

Mike Lamonaco of OST, likes to partner with those who may have connections to new and fresh crowds or those that have a stronger knowledge base in a specific subject.

Bottom Line

Overall, the panelists agreed that it’s best to have a good mix of recruiting methods; traditional and digital. Companies should digitally share their stories with outsiders; photos, videos, testimonials, and blogs. These methods are a fantastic way to connect with both active and passive candidates, promoting your company’s culture and environment. Recruiters must engage with candidates through traditional methods too; postcards, phone calls to follow up, and interacting with candidates out in the community. And it helps to get creative with all of your recruiting methods!

In West Michigan specifically, it is so important that we are not only communicating the awesome happenings in the area like concerts and movies in the park, MeetUp groups, fun weather-specific activities, but actually taking future candidates out to experience these! We choose to stay in Grand Rapids, and we need to show our candidates why!

Thanks Hannah!

The AMA West Michigan Chapter would like to thank Hannah Morgan for contributing as a guest blogger for this month’s recap! Hannah is the creative consultant for smartdept. inc., a new niche staffing resource in the Grand Rapids market. smartdept. inc. provides companies with freelance, contract, direct hire and contract-to-hire candidates in creative and marketing. They use a boutique approach to truly understand both the needs of their candidates and their clients, from there they are able to make a meaningful match. Contact Hannah if you’re a creative or marketing professional looking for a new adventure or visit their website at to learn more!

We’re taking a break to enjoy the summer while it’s here, but stay tuned for more exciting AMA news and watch for a variety of thoughtful new content being posted regularly!