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3 Ways Workforce & Education Organizations Can Use Emotional Messaging to Engage, Recruit and Retain Students & Job Seekers During COVID-19

It has been well documented that humans process information and make decisions based on emotion.

It has been well documented that humans process information and make decisions based on emotion. And emotions are a major part of the pandemic, with about one-third of U.S. adults experiencing stress, anxiety, and great sadness due to COVID-19, according to a recent Commonwealth survey.

Given this information, workforce and education organizations should re-examine recruitment and retention strategies for students and jobseekers, looking at their approach in the context of COVID-19. Context matters. Unless your organization’s messages are well researched and developed with COVID-19 in mind, you will be wasting valuable time, money and resources. To be successful, your messaging must appeal to your target audiences’ emotional state.

In a previous blog, we discussed the power of personas in developing your message. With COVID-19, and the range of fears it has created, it’s important to consider what students and jobseekers are likely to be thinking, feeling and experiencing when your messages land in front of them. It’s important to meet them where they are at without telling them how they should feel, otherwise you run the risk of delivering what can be interpreted as a patronizing message.

Here are three strategies to use to strike the right balance to engage, recruit and retain students and job seekers during COVID-19:

  1. Let your customers do the talking.
    Use human-centered messaging. Those students and jobseekers who have shifted to online learning and have reinvented their lives during COVID-19 create an authentic voice to demonstrate how they overcame their fears and anxiety by working with your organization. Sharing their real-world challenges and how they are coping will resonate with other students and jobseekers facing similar dilemmas and will put your brand front and center as the solution. Capture their stories in both video and written format for outreach purposes.
  2. Demonstrate empathy.
    Your staff is also going through challenging times and adjusting to a virtual work environment. Simple iPhone videos showing the day in the life of a counselor, case manager or support staff member will demonstrate the ways in which your organization is adapting to serve customers as a result of social distancing. It also creates brand stickiness in demonstrating not only the new ways of servicing customers but creating an emotional feeling that “we are in this together.”
  3. Capture friends’ and family members’ stories
    study of first-generation college students published by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics showed children of college-educated parents are much more likely to pursue and complete an undergraduate degree than are young people whose parents did not attend college. First-generation college students are more likely to be of a lower socioeconomic status and have less money to cover their college costs. Because this audience often doesn’t have the advantage of parents’ firsthand college experience to guide them through the college-going process, a powerful story would be the voice of a family who were able to break these trends to pursue education. A video or story about a parent who guided their child to obtain life-changing training and education during COVID-19 – training that improved life for the entire family – could have a significant impact to inspire others to do the same.

Each of these strategies require a coordinated approach between your organization’s various departments to deliver effective messaging at the critical touchpoints for your jobseekers and students. Let us help you break down organizational silos and create a strong digital presence that delivers timely, effective messaging tapping into the channels your target audiences use.

Schedule a consult to evaluate your messaging and mediums so you can re-position your organization’s communication in the new COVID-19 environment. Learn more about our “come back” campaigns for workforce and education organizations.

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