Jeanette LeBlanc and her team were honoured with the Gold Quill Award for building an employer brand platform to raise awareness for careers at BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS), part of the Provincial Health Services Authority. British Columbians will recall that major environmental incidents like fires and floods increased emergency calls and public service demand, compounded with an expansion of paramedics and call takers needed in service delivery across B.C.
She and her team produced a multi-channel integrated marketing campaign, including a mobile-friendly landing page, a careers video, new advertising channels and other offline and out of home marketing assets to raise provincial and national awareness of careers at BCEHS to target recruitment goals. Jeanette answered a few questions about the project and shared her reaction to the award win.
What is the purpose of your project?
The inception of the project was in response to a huge demand for growth in this program on the heels of tough public perceptions and media headlines around emergency call response times. It was also time to think longer term, and we wanted to inspire future generations to consider becoming a paramedic or call taker in British Columbia, too.
While there has always been information on how to apply to become a paramedic, what is different is the major investment in, and awareness for, larger and broader reach, and a strong, robust marketing presence to highlight messaging related to the employer value propositions of considering a career path at BCEHS. We wanted to tell an engaging story through the voice of our current employees and highlight why to choose BCEHS as your employer.
We had a multi-functional team approach to bring this project to life, including people from leadership, recruitment, communications, talent acquisition, and my area of talent acquisition marketing. This marked the beginning of a new era of employee engagement and employer brand awareness at the PHSA.
What made the project special?
What made it special was our singular focus on the job seeker’s experience. We listened to current employees and how it was more than a job, but a calling. The overarching message was to convey that people can have a great career at BCEHS and find their calling. To tell the stories of the current employees, you need to understand the people in these roles, why they care about this work, why they stay, what’s in it for them. Those are the stories that external job candidates relate to the most—it is incredibly powerful.
We were focused on high level awareness and paying attention to the sales funnel model. We knew further down the funnel, there is deeper storytelling to help people get into the consideration phase, interest phase, and application phase. We created content for some of these next steps, along with Talent Acquisition as the subject experts, and layered them onto the landing page over time and through our social channels and other advertising vehicles. More than two years later, we continue to use those assets and make value out of the initial investment. We are now expanding and repurposing it, to narrow the focus to more niche audiences or regions of B.C.
Why did you decide to submit it for an award?
As an active IABC member for many years, I always planned to apply for a Gold Quill Award. The opportunity didn’t line up until this project came along, winning a total of three awards – an internal PHSA+ award and two IABC awards – first the Gold Quill, and then a Silver Leaf Award. We were able to take the feedback from the Gold Quill Award and apply that to the Silver Leaf submission and earned an award of excellence. I knew it would be great to get feedback and to experience the award entry process; it was a rewarding learning opportunity.
What was the best part of working on this project?
Personally, this work and the award have been career-defining for me. It really launched a new career purpose for me in understanding and thinking exclusively about employer branding, the candidate experience, and ‘selling’ career experiences. I’ve been able to invest in and grow my team since then, and other program leaders have sought similar support based on seeing what came out of the BCEHS programming and marketing, which has been exciting. It’s an area of passion and interest for me to market careers and connect people to work that they are passionate about. The world needs more people who are passionate about their work, especially in health care.
What does it mean to have your work recognized with a Gold Quill Award?
It’s incredibly validating to have an external professional association recognize our project. It is affirming to have that from peers in the industry. To know it is award winning is validating, exciting, and helpful for us to continue the important work of recruitment marketing in healthcare. I am also grateful for the support of the IABC community, as I was able to connect with some of my peers in preparing for this entry and reinforce my early membership days of the power of networking and volunteering; it all contributed to this winning experience.
What advice do you have for other professionals creating Gold Quill submissions?
Organize your documentation, have the right assets and files ready, pull together work samples and refer to the evaluator’s rubric, which is available on the Gold Quill website. It’s a guidebook on how to package your submission and is practically a silver platter outline for how to write your entry. Early on, talk to others who have entered the Gold Quill competition for their advice. And, start earlier than you think you will need!
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
To focus on the job seeker’s experience, there was more of a marketing and sales lens to be applied to this work. The call to action is important when you are promoting career opportunities. It was nice to have a different vantage point to thinking of communications practice. Employer branding uses the power of storytelling to incentivize interest in applications for careers, so it came down to that conversion point. Awareness of the story is helpful, but ensure they have compelling emotion and relatability for people to want to apply. Beyond the story, content is king now so we produced new fresh employee imagery and dynamic video content to capture viewer attention.
It was great to help shine a light on those diverse stories to attract more people who want to become a call taker or a paramedic as a career. Seeing the camaraderie and passion of the people who do this work in BC was rewarding. It was also critical to authentically represent the diverse layers of the organization: various career paths working 24/7, multiple regions of the province and respective lifestyles, the diversity of the staff and the people that work here. Representation matters. It was truly exciting to be a part of this and help tell the story – we barely scratched the surface and my team is excited to keep sharing those stories nearly three years later.
Do you want to spotlight your team’s success? Visit https://gq.iabc.com/ to learn how to apply for the IABC Gold Quill Award.