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What to Do When HR Gets a Facebook Page
By: Mike Bush
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Some of us in corporate comms can be a little, well — let’s be diplomatic and call it territorial. We aim to use PR and other tools to control the message and present a unified company front. We’re storytellers. We’ve always got an eye on the big picture. And a little secret — we have literally no tangible skills. None. Seriously, if a zombie apocalypse started tomorrow and you had your choice of a PR person or, well, someone who works in literally any other profession, you’re taking the other guy or gal… unless that person works in HR. 

And this is why things get weird as companies start to incorporate “organizational life” into their daily communications channels. This is blind squirrel leading blind squirrel to find a nut, and the hunt is becoming more frantic. Even as recently as a year and a half ago, “painting a picture” of corporate life could be achieved through pointing out perks of a gig or good works in the community, and aiming for earned media.

There was a glorious day when flacks could hand over that piece of coverage and say, “Here, HR — put this into your applicant package,” and send the Toby Flendersons of the world scurrying about.

Today, though, the best candidates are looking for more.

It’s in this spirit that I reached out Celinda Appleby, who is the Digital Media Program Manager at HP for Talent Channels, Global Acquisition. I asked her if she’d consider corresponding about the programs she’s working on, and to my delight (delight? she’s in HR! that was hyperbole, obviously), she said yes.

I’m a flack, and I feel like letting HR run wild all over social media is like letting a fox into the henhouse. Why would I let your folks play on my lawn?

I think that HR/Talent Acquisition tells a very different story than Marketing/PR. Don’t get me wrong; our Marketing/PR teams are top notch, so no discredit there. It’s just that our team is building brand awareness on what it’s like to work at HP. We leverage digital media as one of the tools to attract and retain top talent. In our department, it is more about showcasing #lifeatHP vs. a slew of job openings. I am a firm believer that people want to know what it’s like to be a part of your company and more often than not, the job description and career page don’t tell the full story.

So let’s say my company’s HR department somehow gains the ear of someone higher up, and manages to thwart my monopoly on storytelling. After keying that executive’s car, what should a flack like me be ready for?

Having a story to tell is very important, so planning helps with that. We have global guidelines we must follow and adhere to, but overall we are extremely lucky to have great friends across HP. I am a recruiter by trade so I rely on my marketing, employer branding, and communications teams for guidance. I would be lost without them. But we have been given a seat at the table with Marketing as a real contributor to HP’s overall digital strategy.

But marketing and PR are all about measurables. What are we possibly going to get out of your initiatives?

We have increased employee engagement by placing them in the center of our digital strategy. We now have employees that send us pictures and content, where a year ago we were knocking doors literally begging for a story. The best value is seeing the organic growth that we as a team built from scratch. We all still celebrate the successes, but they aren’t 10 likes anymore — we now marvel when we get 400. As we climb to 90K fans on Facebook, I am proud to say that our HP Careers program is consistently rated in the top five of the Social Recruitment Monitor. Our competition is strong and we are committed to getting that #1 spot.
Wait, you’re telling me your employees are making it easier to execute a content strategy, AND there are measurable results? Next you’re going to say you have best practices and whatnot.

You have to start small, select the platform that will best reach the talent you are hoping to engage, and devote your efforts into that. Social Recruiting is a lot like a “get healthy” journey we all start on January 1st every year. We try to do it all and hope to drop the holiday pounds fast. But the best way to sustain presence is to focus on quality over quantity. I think that less is more and oftentimes as humans we take on more than we can chew (like starting a LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.) and unless you have a dedicated resource (or many), pulling that off successfully is very hard. Another pet peeve of mine is when career-focused pages spam the fans with jobs. In my opinion, if the seeker wanted job alerts, they would create tailored ones on your career page. Social media should be used to build a sense of community.
Who else is invading my space?

At HP, we have a good mix of people on our digital team that sit in all corners of the world. The team, which I call HP Careers Digital Warriors, is composed of Talent Advisors and Talent Sourcers. They have a FT job attracting talent on a daily basis, so it makes sense to leverage them as our brand ambassadors. I do not think there is a magic recipe for a digital department, but I can tell you that no one on my team has any marketing experience. That, at times, feels like my Achilles heel, but also makes me feel so proud of my team.

So, the fox is in the henhouse, without marketers, but with an enhanced content strategy, best practices, and measureable results? Do you think people still pick the flack over the recruiter in a zombie apocalypse?


You’re running from zombies right now, aren’t you?

If it’s not obvious, these are not the actual questions I sent to Celinda, who has been a great sport throughout this process. However, the answers given are her own words, and paint a great picture of life at HP, and a model that corporations can look to leverage (along with a sense that flacks maybe ought to be collaborative now, before it’s too late).

The ranking for the Social Recruitment Monitor Celinda referenced can be found here. (If you follow the link, be sure to sort by global companies)

About Celinda Appleby: Celinda Appleby is the Global Digital Media Program Manager for Hewlett-Packard’s Global Talent Acquisition organization. In this role she leads HP’s talent acquisition digital strategy and also oversees HP Careers social media footprint to position HP has a top employer in the market. Prior to joining HP’s digital media team, Celinda was a Strategic Sourcing Lead for HP’s Enterprises Services division where she engaged cleared technical talent. She is passionate about sourcing, social recruiting, and employer branding. She previously held recruiting roles within corporate and agency enterprises. Celinda has over 12 years of recruiting and human resources experience across a broad range of industries including technology, accounting, marketing, and the government sector.

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About the Author
Mike Bush is a PR and Marketing freelancer with more than a dozen years of experience in the field. Find him on and connect Twitter @mikebush or at www.mikebush.nyc. 
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