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Your Employer Brand project: What you should insource and outsource

You’re ready to press ‘GO’ on your employer branding project – but resources are tight. Your internal teams are stretched, yet the visibility and importance of your Employer Branding project are growing (even if the funding hasn’t caught up yet). All eyes are on you.

You know you’re going to need some expert guidance and support. But the question remains: what should you direct your team to do and what should you seek external help with?

Navigating external relationships for maximum value can be challenging. And let’s be honest, agencies will likely say they’re the experts at whatever it is you want them to do. That’s hardly a recipe for shrewd investment.

To ensure you’re directing your efforts effectively, we’ve mapped out the key areas in an Employer Branding project – outlining the roles of your internal resources, where to employ external support, and, more importantly, why?

1. Stakeholder alignment - Understanding the needs of the business.

Consider outsourcing this one. The right people from outside your organisation can prod senior leaders in ways your colleagues might hesitate to. Questions like “What’s holding us back?” Or, “As CEO, what do you want your legacy to be?” And, “Who succeeds in this organisation and who doesn’t?” Without asking the awkward questions, you can’t get a real sense of what success looks like.

2. Colleague research - Understanding why people join, stay and leave

Outsourcing works well here too. Face it, it’s hard to openly discuss tensions or reasons you might leave the business with someone you share lunch tables with. Colleagues will likely be more honest and direct when speaking to an external interviewer.

And, while employee surveys have their role in setting context, in our experience, understanding the real issues and opportunities only happens in a safe, open 1-1 exchange.

3. Inspiration and competitor analysis - Taking an outside-in view

For this, go hybrid. External vendors bring fresh eyes, a crucial element in any employer branding project. As the saying goes, you can’t see the label from inside the jar. Agencies are like magpies — always hunting for new and interesting approaches. They also have a good interpretation of what ‘great’ looks like, based on engaging with multiple businesses and sectors.

Yet, understanding competitors should be a team effort. Your recruiters and hiring managers will know how (and to whom) you’re losing people (or where they’re poaching from). The agency can take a ‘helicopter view’ to see where your clear point of distinction is.

4. Creative - Bringing your employer brand to life

Here, we recommend a hybrid approach. Many of our customers have internal creative teams who know the brand inside out, but an external agency can inject new life and perspective. Let them set the concept, and then watch the magic happen when your internal team takes the reins for production.

5. Employee-led content - Capturing authentic employee stories

Start externally, then transition internally. Employee stories are your golden ticket to authenticity. Extracting these in the right way is more art than science. While a colleague moonlighting as a videographer, or even a professional video team can technically do the job, that doesn’t guarantee compelling content.

For example, with our customers (typically global or highly distributed organisations) we can take one of two roles. Either we pre-plan, shoot and edit the entire campaign, or we create the master assets, then train internal teams or local agencies to follow the model for consistency.

6. Campaign execution and reporting - Where the rubber hits the road

This one’s an in-house job. Agencies like Atomic can advise and stimulate, but the nitty-gritty of execution and reporting is better handled internally. Spending your hard-won budget on reporting, optimisation and execution is not going to deliver good value. These activities are always-on and are better executed internally. But if you simply don’t have the skills or resources, an agency might be the only way to get your new employer brand in front of the right faces.

It can be tricky to work out where you should make your investment. Most agencies will be keen to help wherever they can. But just because they could, doesn’t mean they should. Figure out where your internal strengths shine brightest and where external expertise can add that extra flair. And bear in mind that blurring the lines can lead to a great ‘one team’ experience where everyone’s growing. Good luck!

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