HR and Marketing Collaborate: A Beautiful Friendship

A Brave New Office

There are many relationships within the corporate structure. The most successful companies usually have a culture that encourages all departments to collaborate as often as possible. Bridgette Klein of Willory believes in the relationship between HR and Marketing specifically. We spoke with her to learn more about why it’s important to collaborate between departments and how to build a successful partnership between them.

What is your background and what do you do in your current role?

Growing up in different areas nationally has cultivated my desire to better understand people and their motivations. The varied experiences have contributed to my mindset in such a way that allows me to explore creative endeavors with a practical and strategic mindset.

I earned my Bachelor’s degree from Hiram College, where I was a dual major in studio art (painting) and communication and started formally studying communication theory. In addition to my degree from Hiram, I have also completed my Master’s coursework in Public Relations at Kent State University. My research has focused on how digital media can impact organizational relationships.

Originally, I was hired at Willory for my digital and marketing expertise, but my role has expanded to include event management strategy, internal communication, and assisting team members with speaking engagements and their personal branding. As an organization devoted to hiring, developing, and retaining top talent, we consider our employees to be subject matter experts and we encourage them to contribute via public speaking.

Why is it important for HR and Marketing to work together?

I believe it makes sense for all departments to have a positive and collaborative relationship. It fosters a culture where ideas, innovation, and employees can thrive in. I believe that company culture can be paramount to having a healthy organization, and a strong inter-departmental relationship is a cornerstone of culture.

When specifically focused on HR and Marketing, they absolutely need to be aligned because both focus on a very important thing: people. Marketing isn’t solely about hitting people over the head with products and services, and HR is much more than party planning and firing. When looking at the functions of both, I think the biggest intersection really lies in recruiting. When recruiting is done right, it is at the mutual coordination and benefit of HR and Marketing.

By working together, HR and Marketing are able to create relationships that truly matter. It is in building those relationships – internally and externally – that they can make a difference in their organization.

Departments CAN Collaborate

How should the two work together?

I think HR and Marketing collaboration has to start with relevant, honest, and engaged dialogue. In many organizations that relationship has been strained and a new foundation of trust and understanding needs to be established. Get everyone on the same page and create mutually beneficial goals. These goals need to encompass employees, the company’s business alignment, the public, and any other key stakeholders.

  1. The easiest place to start is by analyzing your company’s culture…it just might not be the easiest thing to fix. If the culture is not one that promotes two-way communication, that must be the first area of focus. HR and Marketing should work as a team by creating consistent and brand specific (including visual) communication that people at all levels have access to. A culture isn’t built in one event, it takes ongoing dedication.
  2. The best thing about a great workplace culture is that it becomes your foundation for everything else. With this foundation, other departments can use this as a component to building and maintaining the brand’s reputation. By promoting culture internally and externally, recruiting will happen naturally and – as long as the application and interview process isn’t problematic – they may continue to be or become customers. angry girl with steam
  3. This goes for ALL employees and customers. A truly negative experience (think complicated application, poor communication from recruiters, and a drawn out process) can turn a loyal customer/applicant into a naysayer and worst-case scenario they may take to social media to voice frustrations. A former employee can be incredibly dangerous to an employer’s reputation. Should the company get blasted online, it’s a best practice for HR and Marketing to work together to come up with a proper solution and response.
  4. On the flip side, a positive culture and meaningful work can create employee evangelists and prevent future negativity. These are employees who are ready and empowered to talk about the workplace in a positive manner.
  5. Additionally, Marketing and HR and can collaborate to select employees who exemplify the organization and are trained on how to best talk about it in public and through media. People are more trusting when they hear from employees than when they just hear from the organization’s Marketing or HR departments. Remember, employees are the subject matter experts. Tap into that knowledge and use it to explain things about products/services, position, and culture.

If you take one thing away, it should be:

“Build amazing workplace cultures, create stellar employee-centric content, and rule the world…or at least your niche.”

What have you seen get in the way of this relationship?

It’s an easy question to answer, a harder one to find a solution to. Resources and egos are really all that stand in the way of HR and Marketing working seamlessly together. We all know companies are trying to do more with less and as a result I think they’re too often putting too many projects on their employees’ plates. By doing so they’re straining one of the most valuable and finite resources: time.

It’s simple enough (at least in theory) for Marketing to record video of top talent, however if HR and Marketing don’t collaborate, then there won’t be a coordinated strategy and the tactics won’t line up with the predetermined goals.

Additionally, when divvying up a budget, the “most successful” department usually gets the most money. This doesn’t always create an environment conducive to teamwork. It creates one where departments are engaging in mortal combat in order to get everything done that they’re expected to do and quality may be sacrificed. People want to take ownership of successful projects and too often are reluctant to share the positive praise. It goes back to a culture issue.

What companies are doing a great job of Marketing and HR work together?

I’ve really been a fan of the way Yale Appliances utilizes their employee expertise to create content. I think they do a great job of empowering employees to answer the questions that customers are asking and put it on their blog.

I also really love Medallia’s “Reply All” video because it pokes fun at the workplace while showcasing that they can work together and that they have a fun culture.

Lastly, I think Pinterest has a great focus on employees and use its own platform as part of their marketing. Not only do they share how they’ve grown together, but they encourage employees to be themselves and then share what makes them unique with one another. It makes sense that a company that is based around sharing what inspires people would have great employer branding, but as we’ve seen in recent months that sometimes the most innovative companies don’t always have the best cultures.

Forming a Perfect Union

Marketing and HR are so similar in many ways.  The biggest difference is their KPIs.  Marketing cares about revenue and demand generation, HR about people.  While marketing isn’t directly incentivized to help attract people, we find they are typically more than willing to lend a strategic hand and point the People team in the right direction.  This tends to be a great partnership where HR can execute on their own terms, while getting guidance from the marketing team which most likely has a lot more experience in attracting and converting people.  In fact, at NextWave Hire we get a lot of interest from marketing teams who are looking for a tool their HR team can use to effectively execute a recruitment marketing strategy.