Powerful employer branding for an evolving energy giant
In a job market where talent is at a premium, and job seekers place tremendous value on workplace culture, National Fuel faced a challenge shared by employers around the country: how to communicate to the labor market all the things that make their company a great place to grow a career. To strengthen their employer brand and attract new talent, National Fuel engaged Block Club.
When a significant number of their long-tenured employees began approaching retirement age, National Fuel knew they needed to more strongly appeal to a new generation of workers to meet the hiring demands they would soon face.
Despite being a diversified energy company with $6.2 billion in assets across five operating segments, exciting career tracks spanning many disciplines, and excellent benefits packages, younger job seekers only saw National Fuel as a local gas utility—not an employer of choice. As a result, the best talent didn’t look to National Fuel for employment, resulting in too few viable applicants.
Complicating matters, social media and digital communications have made for a different recruitment landscape than at any other time in the company’s more than 100-year history. Today’s job seekers have access to countless employment opportunities with a simple online search, making it easy to pass over a company that doesn’t spark immediate interest.
To cut through the misperceptions and attract qualified job candidates, National Fuel needed a strategy to clearly frame and market their employer brand. For help, they looked to Block Club.
As with any strategy project Block Club helms, we first worked closely with National Fuel stakeholders to better understand the company’s challenges, align on objectives, assess the existing state of affairs, and inform our diagnostic. After a series of in-depth conversations and independent research, we developed and deployed a new employer brand strategy for National Fuel, comprising target audience definition, brand positioning, key messages, and content marketing.
During the research phase of the project, it became clear that National Fuel’s target audience (potential job candidates) is too diverse to treat as one entity. The reason being, National Fuel offers many different career tracks, from professional positions in disciplines like engineering, accounting, technology, legal counsel, and business operations to hourly customer support and field service work. Depending on their career track, potential candidates have distinct needs, wants, and goals rendering ineffective a single, collective approach to messaging. To deliver resonant messages capable of changing perceptions about who National Fuel is and what they offer, we knew it would be important to speak to the particularities of each candidate type. So, we segmented National Fuel’s target audience by career track and developed detailed personas for each. In doing so, we were able to understand and empathize with each segment’s precise needs and wants to determine the employer values and attributes most important to them.
With a better understanding of target audience, we crafted three employer brand positioning statements for National Fuel—one for each persona we developed. They defined how we want potential candidates to think about National Fuel as an employer in relation to their competitors. The brand positioning statements served as our North Star, guiding subsequent marketing and messaging decisions.
From there, we created three sets of audience-specific key messages. The key messages articulate the ideas captured in the employer brand positioning statements we developed while taking into account each audience’s specific needs and wants. In effect, they flesh out a more detailed employer brand story National Fuel can activate in advertising and marketing applications to convey to their target audiences who they are and what they stand for.
Finally, we devised a content marketing strategy to bring National Fuel’s key messages to market and generate new interest in National Fuel as an employer of choice. We predicated the content marketing strategy on four tactics:
- Spotlight current National Fuel employees, in the form of written and video profiles, who come close to aligning with our audience personas.
- Break down content into captivating, digestible forms for distribution across social media.
- Strategically boost content and run complementary social media ad campaigns.
- Refresh National Fuel’s career page to better reflect their employer brand positioning and serve as a content library for the company’s new employee profiles.
The success of our content marketing strategy hinged on producing rich, on-message employee profiles. To that end, we shadowed National Fuel employees across career tracks and job sites to get an insider’s view of their daily tasks and understand the scope of their jobs. Our goal was to undercover the narratives that would resonate with our target audiences.
Once we identified National Fuel employees who could authentically speak to the key messages we developed, we drafted Q&A-style profiles detailing their backgrounds, personal motivations, daily lives, and career paths—all framed up with fun anecdotes to create a sense of excitement around working at National Fuel. We also asked the employees to share their stories on camera. Together, the written profiles and videos depict a company that embodies the attributes and values that matter most to their target audiences.
To house the content we created, we designed a fresh, interactive careers landing page called Faces of National Fuel. The landing page featured dynamic video clips that depict candid daily moments and experiences of various National Fuel employees. Visitors can click on images of featured employees to read more about their professional and personal lives and watch their stories. As job seekers read and view the profiles most relevant to their job interests, they see their own wants and goals reflected in the featured employees, making it easy to envision themselves working at National Fuel. They also begin to assimilate the key messages we developed, helping to change the misperceptions that were holding the company back.
This end-to-end solution provided National Fuel with a comprehensive toolkit to aid recruitment initiatives. By promoting the profiles we created on social media and driving prospective candidates to the careers landing page, National Fuel has emerged as an employer of choice, offering exciting career opportunities, long-term stability, sustainable work-life balance, excellent employee benefits, and a friendly and supportive workplace culture.
The company’s strengthened employer brand plays a crucial role in recruitment efforts. As intended, National Fuel’s employer brand strategy is driving new perceptions—and attracting qualified talent in the process.
- Photography & Videography: Addo Productions