Our Regional Brand Can Help You Recruit Talent
Now’s the time for your organization to show it off as a part of your strategy.
I’ve been paying attention to the brand of our region for a long time now. Well, 33 years to be exact. That’s when, from my bedroom in Winona, Minnesota, I flipped through college viewbooks as a high school junior and imagined the course of my life unfolding on one of those amazingly manicured campuses surrounded by beautiful people and promises of the American dream.
That promise drew me to visit St. Norbert College. Once on campus, I learned I could live in Burke Hall overlooking the Fox River every day as a first-year student. Here I was, a kid who hung out on the Mississippi River and now I could have waterfront views as a college student while gaining a great liberal arts education? Sign me up!
I was also keenly aware that if I wanted to be a journalist (yes, my original plan) that the Green Bay area was an ideal spot—multiple TV stations, two daily newspapers at the time and a sizeable market without the same kind of competition for internships I’d experience in larger metro areas. (Check one: great college choice. Check two: solid career opportunities. Check three: river runs through it.)
Fast forward. After graduating from St. Norbert, I went to work. I never did pursue that local news station as my birthplace, Minneapolis, and the world of public relations had my heart by then. But a pretty amazing opportunity presented itself after grad school and brought me back to my alma mater in De Pere in 2002. I said yes to a career opportunity to promote the school I believed in. I promised to do my best for two years. I’d help set up a strategic communications and marketing unit, and then I’d head back to Minneapolis. During those two years, the SNC communications team transitioned the way we showcased the college. We primarily hailed the many academic benefits, but we also worked hard to show off the river, highlight regional offerings—not just the campus—with photos and stats about the cool factor of our region. Regional images found their way in our materials, like neighboring De Pere coffee shops, waterskiing, and Green Bay’s CityDeck. We needed to break through the preconceived notions that existed about our area and not only attract students, faculty and staff to visiting campus but to saying yes to living here.
That philosophy led to work with local groups like New North, Better by the Bay, Greater Green Bay Chamber, downtown Main Street programs and others. It also led to an introduction to Brad Toll, president and CEO of then-named Greater Green Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB).
After about a decade (not just the two years I expected) helping promote St. Norbert, I felt the call to launch my own strategic communications firm. But where? The pull between launching a company in Green Bay or Minneapolis was real. I turned to the trusted process of a pros-and-cons list. And you know what? Green Bay won in key areas: great place to raise a family, lower cost of living, less traffic and travel time, less costly to rent/own an office space, easier for me to get lending as I already had a banking relationship … and that’s the hard-on-paper-stuff. The community had put its hooks in, too. O’Connor Connective would start here—and now, gulp, we’re approaching 10 years in business.
During that time, we’ve worked with the CVB as a collaborator and also as a client. This summer, O’Connor Connective helped Brad and his team unveil a new brand, Discover Green Bay. It’s not just a name of an organization, it’s a call to action.
That call is critical for the economic well-being of our region. Over $700 million in tourism spending makes its way into our community each year. And tourism not only sells hospitality, it sells the potential of relocating here.
Governor Tony Evers was recently in town to share an additional $10 million granting opportunity for tourism, which we hope will allow us to finish Brad’s dream of a stand-alone Visitor Experience Center. That facility will help showcase much of what this community is all about.
And it’s about being a quality place to be. The visitor experience has proven to be a recruiting experience. As our region deals with the challenges of recruiting talent, we must remember that we shouldn’t just show off what we offer for a weekend of fun. Let’s tell the story of what it’s like to live here.
I’m proud to see the Greater Green Bay Chamber offering a concierge service for prospective employee recruitment of out-of-town talent. Perhaps this is something your HR department can check out and leverage for your next key search. Or you might pop into Discover Green Bay’s temporary visitor center to see what’s available to share with your recruits.
How your company tells your story matters. You know that. But today, telling the regional story and showcasing our quality of life will help you meet your recruitment goals. Stop in to Discover Green Bay and the Greater Green Bay Chamber. They know what’s here, and they can help you put your best foot forward. And while you’re there, you might just find more for you to discover, too.
Bridget Krage O’Connor is the owner of O’Connor Connective, a strategic communications firm located on Main Avenue in De Pere, Wisconsin—steps away from where a college viewbook led her in 1989.