ACTION PLAN Workforce Marketing Introduction Workforce Florida, Inc. can play a vital role in Governor Bush‟s call to “transform how state government works” by designing programs and services that are responsive and relevant to both employers and j ob seekers. That will require commitment and attention on several vital fronts: developing the quality of our product (Florida‟s workforce) through workforce education and training; delivering top-notch service (simplifying access to workforce services and responding quickly and consistently to customers); marketing Florida’s workforce and employment opportunities (building awareness and brand loyalty with strong consistent messages that articulate what WFI has to offer and address our customer‟s problems); and living the message by delivering on the implied promise (customer experience must match the message) or credibility and our customer base will quickly erode. This Plan details marketing opportunities and strategies to promote workforce services to job seekers and employers, while meeting specific marketing mandates in FS 445. It features two primary sections presenting strategies for – Marketing Career Opportunities to Job Seekers and Students and Marketing Workforce Services to Employers – plus a special section devoted to WEB communications, recognizing the fast-growing influence of this powerful medium. Goals: Increase interest in career opportunities in Florida among job seekers and students, emphasizing demand occupations in fast-growing sectors. Increase employer awareness, use and satisfaction with one-stop workforce services. Create a strong brand identity and generate traffic for the web-based labor market information and job link site Florida is creating. I. EMPLOYER ACTION PLAN Strategies for promoting Florida’s workforce and workforce services and supporting the state’s economic development activities Aligning Florida‟s workforce development strategies with the needs of current employers – as well as industries targeted in the state‟s economic development activities – is a critical element of FS 445. Employer surveys consistently identify workforce issues (hiring, training and retaining good employees) as a top concern for businesses of all sizes. Effectively engaging employers will require strong communications initiatives backed up by service levels that meet or exceed employer expectations. To some degree, these activities must be established at the local level rather than statewide, although support from WFI may be vital to addressing these issues in smaller regions. A. Marketing Florida’s workforce and supporting the state’s economic development initiatives Florida‟s rapidly growing economy makes workforce concerns a top issue for companies considering relocation or expansion. Working closely with Enterprise Florida to address those concerns is a top priority. The following strategies detail how the WFI message can be promoted to businesses outside Florida and incorporated into EFI‟s marketing portfolio. 1. Brand Workforce Florida at the state level, while preserving and respecting the individual brands of workforce boards at the local level. WFI and the AWI should work together to establish a consistent identity, message and expectations about the workforce programs and services businesses can tap in Florida, and translate that identity into a graphic concept and materials that the organization can use to promote Florida‟s workforce at the state level. The emphasis would be on promoting the benefits of “Workforce Florida” – rather than pushing the identities or logos of the two organizations (WFI and AWI). 2. Develop complementary slip-sheet inserts for EFI’s marketing portfolio to focus on key workforce messages. 3. Develop series of success stories to highlight workforce development strategies in EFI‟s advertising, marketing and publicity campaigns. The focus would be on high-tech industries where workforce services helped new or expanding companies become successful in Florida. 4. Work with EFI to identify ways to include workforce development strategies, particularly success stories, on their new website. 5. Enhance partnerships with marketing teams at community colleges and regional workforce boards to identify and effectively communicate workforce development success stories. 6. Promote ongoing exchange between WF leadership and EDOs, including participation in EFI‟s monthly partner calls, and at EFI‟s annual meeting of EDOs and regional workforce board executives. 7. Explore the cost-benefits of partnership funding with EFI on highly targeted advertising campaigns promoting workforce issues. B. Promoting workforce development services to companies in Florida A key tenet of economic development recognizes a significant amount of economic growth comes from existing business. That probably carries through for workforce development professionals, meaning that employers already operating in Florida are the largest source of new job growth. However, if data collected through surveys in Central Florida and Palm Beach County are relevant statewide, only a relatively small percentage of employers are aware of workforce development services and even fewer use them. Engaging employers is a long-term effort that should begin with an audit that identifies which companies are most likely to be using workforce development services so that can be compared with which companies regional boards most want to serve. Specific communications messages and strategies can be developed to address those target audiences and their key concerns. Statewide strategies to promote workforce development services to employers could include: 1. Expand business partnerships by engaging organizations including the Florida Chamber, IT Florida and EDOs, as well as key industry and trade associations whose members hire large numbers of entry-level workers such as Florida Hotel/Motel Association, Florida Restaurant Association, Florida Association of Home Builders, Florida Hospital Association, etc. Provide information on workforce development initiatives and success stories to help populate their internal communications materials Develop and promote Internet links that provide their membership with easy access to workforce information Consider participation in major events and trade shows. 2. Develop basic collateral piece targeted to employers that outlines key services available through WFI and regional workforce boards. This brochure would be distributed at the state level but also would allow regional boards the opportunity to overprint with their name and contact information. 3. Implement an employer-oriented media relations campaign that focuses on success stories at individual companies as well as benefits to all Floridians when workforce goals are met. (A separate media relations strategy submitted in October 2000 includes comprehensive plans for statewide publicity including editorial board meetings and potential op-ed pieces.) 4. Ensure that the new WFI website specifically addresses employer concerns and includes value-added features that bring employers back. The most highly rated business websites provide visitors with more than information on their products – they help businesses solve problems. Along with information on available services, the WFI website should focus on helping employers recruit, train and retain the workforce they need to be competitive in a global economy. 5. Consider creation of workforce curriculum to be offered through the Small Business Development Centers. The SBDC assists thousands of small businesses with information on a wide variety of topics. Developing a 60-to 120-minute curriculum on workforce development, including recruiting, training and retaining good workers, may provide significant outreach to small businesses who need assistance. C. Help regional workforce boards engage employers in workforce development strategies and increase employer awareness and utilization of one-stop services One-stop delivery systems are designed to be the primary entry into the workforce system for both employers and jobseekers. Jobseekers are likely to utilize one-stops because they tend to be conveniently located and provide a series of services ranging from employment information to cash assistance. On the other hand, employers generally seek out one-stop centers only for employment services and locations that are convenient for jobseekers often are not as suitable for business. To serve employers effectively, regional boards must reach out into communities, develop networks in key business groups and provide services that meet or exceed expectations. While some regions already have created successful employer programs, others may need direction and assistance from the state organization. Strategies that help empower regional workforce boards may include: 1. Develop benchmarks for employer services and encourage board members to “shop” those services from an employer perspective. Engaging board members – who often are business leaders – in benchmarking and improving employer services often identifies issues that might be missed if jobseeker services are emphasized. 2. Create employer-oriented templates that can be customized at the regional level, including a basic brochure that details services for employers and local contact information. Recommendation is to review and adapt some of the excellent existing employer materials already developed by leading regions such as Jacksonville, Palm Beach and Orlando. 3. Sponsor forums for the exchange of best practices in marketing. At least once a year in conjunction with state board meetings or workforce events, AWI could sponsor forums bringing regional marketing and business contacts together to discuss and share marketing strategies and materials. This could be coordinated with training seminars (see # 5) for front-line staff responsible for marketing employer services. 4. Assist regions with media relations activities, as needed. While larger regions have professional communicators on staff, smaller regions may need assistance with publicity. This can be provided on an as-needed basis as well as through templates of news releases and bylined columns that can be customized for local publications. 5. Ensure that all regions address employer issues on their websites, including online job request forms. Links to the WFI site can be emphasized so that applications for programs such as IWT and QRT are easily accessible. 6. Evaluate need for business marketing training at regional level and consider adapting First Coast‟s “Doing Business with Business” training program for replication in other areas. 7. Revisit marketing toolkit created for WAGES and evaluate the need for a similar product that increases focus on workforce development. Also reconsider distribution method to ensure that it is used by RWBs. II. JOB SEEKER ACTION PLAN Strategies for marketing career opportunities in Florida to jobseekers and students A key challenge facing workforce professionals is connecting students and workers to information and programs that can lead to high-paying jobs in demand occupations. Entry-level workers and employees with minimum skills often aren‟t aware of how significantly their earnings can be enhanced through educational programs, such as apprenticeship and certificate programs. Even at the post-secondary level, graduation rates in programs that lead to jobs in high-paying information technology industries actually declined by 5% nationally, according to Cybereducation, a 1999 report of the American Electronics Association. (page 45 of the ITFlorida report). Three distinct initiatives will be required to effectively meet the challenge of promoting career opportunities in Florida. FS 445 specifically calls for distributing information to high-school and post-secondary students about career opportunities and high demand jobs in Florida. The legislation also calls for marketing a new Internet job link and labor market information site Florida is creating. Those strategies are referenced here, but addressed more fully in a special action plan devoted to WEB communications. Finally, steps should be taken to help regional workforce boards increase awareness, utilization and effectiveness of the their one-stop delivery systems. A. Promoting career opportunities to students FS 445 specifically mandates communications strategies targeted at secondary and post-secondary students. The Internet will be a vital part of this strategy and a separate action plan has been created to address this medium (see section III). Although a series of innovative activities have been developed by regional workforce boards using youth council funding, these programs almost always address at-risk students rather than the general population. The following strategies outline cost-effective methods for reaching a broader population of students. 1. Develop partnership to utilize Florida Trend’s NEXT magazine, which already is distributed to every freshman and senior in Florida‟s high schools. Several other state agencies, including the Department of Education, Board of Regents and the Division of Community Colleges, already sponsor sections within this magazine and Lynda Keever, Florida Trend’s publisher, is a strong supporter of workforce development in the state. Price will depend upon level of participation, but should be extremely cost-effective when the costs for other means of reaching students are considered. 2. Develop a special section for students on Florida’s new Internet job matching and career information site, and aggressively market it to schools and guidance counselors. Evaluate opportunities to partner with Florida Trend‟s NEXT magazine for content. (See action plan on Web communications). 3. Develop and distribute materials focusing on high demand occupations and career tracks targeting guidance counselors rather than students to minimize out-of-pocket costs, although news releases should be developed and distributed to campus publications and regional workforce boards for local distribution. Steps should include: Evaluating the focus, format, and distribution methods of existing materials developed by the Florida Dept. of Labor and Dept. of Education, including The Guide to Career & Educational Planning. Such broad-based publications should be re-tooled to improve readability and emphasize and promote demand occupations and opportunities in Florida‟s fast-growing technology sectors. Additionally, a cost-benefit analysis should include an evaluation of other methods to get the word out, including a partnership with Florida Trend‟s NEXT magazine. Establishing a standard design concept for flagship publications and materials marketed by the state to schools and students to build recognition and readership. Developing strategies to promote the availability of these materials to guidance counselors through direct mail, news releases targeted to campus publications and major news media, and the web. Developing materials and publicity promoting targeted initiatives such Careers for Florida‟s Future, if this legislative initiative moves forward. 4. Promote Florida’s Training & Education Network (formerly the Consumer Information Service) to students and counselors. While other strategies and materials focus on students likely to complete two or more years of post-secondary education, FTEN provides information on high-demand jobs that typically require two years or less of post- secondary education. The network can be promoted through news releases written for school publications and through information targeted at high school guidance counselors. News release templates also should be provided to regional boards and approved training providers to be customized and distributed locally. B. Promoting Workforce opportunities to individuals outside Florida FS 455 also requires educating individuals outside Florida about employment conditions and opportunities in the State – and clearly, the most cost-effective method for accomplishing this is via the Internet. In addition to marketing the new web site Florida is creating outside our borders, Florida also has a unique opportunity to engage visitors who are already here on vacation. And to a large extent, a marketing campaign can be created in partnership with other organizations for a minimum cost to Workforce Florida. 1. Identify the web sites that generate the heaviest traffic by non-residents, including Visit Florida and the Florida Chamber. 2. Develop a Work in FLA icon that parallels the state’s FLAUSA campaign brand, and create partnerships with Visit Florida and other organizations to prominently feature the click-thru logo on their websites and include it in partnership publications. The logo would simply be an electronic gateway to an enhanced jobseeker page on www.workforceflorida.com that includes more general information on living and working in Florida until Sunshine Job Links is up. Since workforce issues are a top priority for private members in Visit Florida, Enterprise Florida and local EDOs, it should be relatively easy to create partnerships with those organizations and their members to utilize the web logo and explore partnerships for getting the brand out in other innovative ways, including partnership advertising, in-room hotel publications and at major conventions through Convention & Visitors Bureaus 3. Develop a media plan to publicize Florida‟s career opportunities and thriving employment climate in selected national newspapers, with a key aim of driving individuals to Florida‟s new internet job portal. 4. Consider opportunities to target students on spring break in Florida. Top American firms competing for the best high-tech talent from the nation‟s colleges and universities are tapping into an innovative recruiting event held at spring break meccas in Florida and Texas, providing them with instant access to thousands of job prospects in a casual setting. Most spring breakers are in college (in states where Florida taxpayers aren‟t subsidizing their education) and beginning to think seriously about their careers. The Spring Break Career Expo, held in Panama City each spring, may be the perfect time to siphon off students in key occupations by promoting Florida‟s new internet job portal and hot career opportunities. 5. Develop a media plan to publicize Florida‟s career opportunities and thriving employment climate in selected national newspapers, with a key aim of driving individuals to Florida‟s new internet job portal. C. Increase awareness and utilization of one-stop services by job seekers, while enhancing the effectiveness of the one-stop delivery system. Regional workforce boards serve a diverse base of job seekers through their one-stop delivery systems, mandated by state and federal legislation to be the primary entry point for job seekers. Along with individuals entering the workforce for the first time, unemployed workers and workers seeking to upgrade their skills, one-stops also serve special populations such as welfare recipients, handicapped and disabled individuals and other people who typically require more intensive services. Serving these diverse constituencies is both a challenge and an opportunity. Regional boards must develop flexible customer service plans that simplify access to the system and „meet people where they are‟ by offering multiple ways to access service and information. Basic customer research on the front end will help tailor those strategies most effectively. 1. Evaluate customer mix and customer satisfaction to target services and communications strategies most effectively. Profile the current customer base using a representative sampling of workforce regions to determine who we‟re serving now and how satisfied they are. Customer satisfaction is being tracked by Brandt Information Services as required by state and federal law. A review of these findings along with a demographic profile of customers currently utilizing one- stop services will be vital to evaluating services to those groups, as well as evaluating strategies for the future, i.e., what groups we serve now vs. what groups we want to be serving and how we can reposition services to target special audiences if necessary. 2. Assess current messages and marketing materials being used by workforce boards and their competitors. A preliminary scan of workforce regions indicates that some boards have invested in highly effective communications materials, while others rely upon photocopied or outdated documents that aren‟t always written for customers. This scan should be completed to inventory what has been developed and what is working most effectively. 3. Develop templates for marketing materials that regions can customize. Creating a few basic templates for marketing materials at the state level for local regions to access and customize – and making them available as downloadable resources on the WEB -- is far more cost-effective than each region developing materials on their own. While a number of larger regions already have their own marketing materials, many regions lack the in-house professional staff to direct these efforts on their own, relying instead on whatever is available (regardless of quality) – or doing without communications materials. The scope of this project is still to be determined, but could include: A basic brochure – Your Next Job is Our Whole Job -- promoting one-stop services to job seekers, based on a highly effective piece developed for the Central Florida region. Information on apprenticeship and certificate programs targeted at unemployed and underemployed adults, funded in partnership with trade groups. Marketing materials on Careers for Florida‟s Future also should be developed and distributed through one-stops as well as schools if this initiative moves forward. 4. Develop online portal for Florida job seekers. FS445 calls for the development of Sunshine Jobs Link, a job matching and labor market information site that links employers and job seekers. Now under development, the site is a part of a broader state technology strategy to provide universal services online. As an interim step that also will help generate content for the new site, WFI should continue to enhance the job seekers section of www.workforceflorida.com so it becomes a top portal for jobseekers in Florida. (see Section III for specific Web marketing recommendations, including strategies for marketing Sunshine Jobs Link) 5. Increase the effectiveness of one-stop service centers. Marketing and communications efforts will have limited impact without related efforts to enhance the effectiveness of one-stop centers that serve workforce clients. Several excellent resources are available to help regions in this critical area, including Excellence in One-Stops Guidebook (published by the Workforce Excellence Network) and Promising Practices in Placement Systems (by Workforce 2020). Resources such as these should be tapped to develop a comprehensive checklist of one-stop services and marketing strategies. Local staff and board members should be encouraged to “shop” using a checklist; state staff could use the checklist as a tool in evaluating one-stop service centers. A physical or virtual design model of an ideal one-stop that addresses physical set-up, traffic flow and even signage and marketing also is suggested as a practical and powerful tool that could bring the one-stop vision to life – and provide regions with concrete ideas on how to design or redesign their centers. 6. Provide assistance to regional workforce boards to enhance their marketing efforts. Build an online resource bank for marketing and communications staff within the Workforce Professionals & Partners section of the WFI site so regions can easily access materials and resources online. This would include template materials, “best practices” from around the state and sample news releases that regions can customize. 7. Sponsor forums for the exchange of best practices in marketing at least once a year in conjunction with already established state board meetings or events. III. INTERNET ACTION PLAN Strategies for promoting workforce services on the web, and generating traffic for the new job matching and labor market information site Florida is creating. FS 445 calls for the creation of an Internet site promoting career opportunities in Florida, recognizing that the Internet is rapidly becoming an important method of communication among businesses and job seekers. Research indicates that 80 percent of recent college graduates will use the Internet to search for career information and the top 10 job search sites (see list created in WFI web audit) receive nearly 17 million hits per month. Effectively using the Internet can enhance services provided in one-stops, as seen in several regions which now feature electronic job searches as part of their local web page. Putting business services online, including online job submission forms and electronic applications for programs like IWT and QRT, is more convenient and cost-effective for both businesses and local providers. The web also can play a key role in reaching students and out-of-state jobseekers mandated in FS 445. A. Site Considerations A series of marketing issues must be considered as the site is designed and built to make it as effective as possible. One key concern is the name of the site. In “Internet time,” extra keystrokes are frowned upon and Sunshine Jobs Link is a lot of letters. Even so, the name does not convey the true value of the site. Another option (available as of 10/17/00) is FLAworks.com. It‟s shorter, more clearly conveys the intent of the site, ties in with Visit Florida‟s national and international advertising campaign, and carries a strong marketing message for both employers and employees. Other options include workinfla, but FLAjobs and workFLA are both taken. A second consideration is how the site will function, particularly in light of the dozen or so job search sites already operated by the for-profit sector in Florida, as well as numerous sites operated by regional boards and other state agencies. To ensure that funds invested in the site provide significant returns for Florida businesses and job seekers, it will be critical to provide customers with value-added services that are not currently available on other Internet sites. One alternative to addressing this concern is building a “metasearch” job site, such as www.jobanywhere.com on a national basis or www.centralfloridaonestop.com, a new site created for Region 12. Instead of just listing jobs, these sites function more like search engines and provide visitors with a series of links to other sites and/or newspaper classified ads. This type of site offers a win/win alternative for everyone involved: job seekers can search one site instead of dozens for job information, and private job search sites gain another audience, along with the employers who advertise on them. (For additional information on website considerations, including a comprehensive review of competing sites in other states, see the web scan completed by WFI‟s communications team earlier this year.) B. Branding The Site Even the most comprehensive job listing service, in and of itself, will not serve as an effective communications tool for job seekers, if national trends hold true in Florida. As noted in the WFI web audit. America‟s Job Link is clearly the largest listing of employment opportunities, with approximately 2.3 million jobs, but it doesn‟t appear on a “top 10” list of job search sites. The largest site is monster.com (which feeds AOL), with about 441,000 jobs and nearly 4.5 million hits. Although we don‟t know how many visitors AJB received, the smallest site on the top-10 list received about 500,000 hits during the same period. It‟s clear that communications initiatives that “brand” the site by building a strong, consistent message – followed by a product that meets or exceeds expectations created by the communications campaign – will be critical to long-term success. The following initiatives will help build traffic to the new site and reinforce a consistent theme that Florida offers significant career opportunities. 1. Search engines are still the primary way people find sites on the Internet, so the site should be designed with search engine technology in mind. Metatags are vital, and content should be searchable by “spiders” rather than created graphically. Information should be submitted to key search engines individually to ensure that it is in the format they prefer, rather than using a program that submits information to all sites simultaneously. If possible, long-term sites, i.e., WAGES, Floridajobs.org, etc. should automatically link to the new site because it often takes months for search engines to register new sites. 2. The second most effective marketing tool is links from other sites, and our partnerships with key business organizations, EDOs, state and local chambers of commerce and other tourism-oriented groups will be critical in this initiative. As noted previously, a series of attractive “click-through” logos that focus on “Work in Florida” as well as different themes for other key audiences can be created and posted on those sites. 3. “Viral marketing” – or old-fashioned word-of-mouth referrals – is the third-ranked tool in building website traffic. Along with providing a strong product, we can boost referrals through tools such as “email this page to a friend” links on job listings and daily or weekly updates on job listings. For instance, monster.com has a very successful email program that lets visitors know when any jobs that meet criteria they identify are posted. Opt-in niche groups and regular newsletters also help increase viral marketing activities. 4. Judiciously purchased banner advertising also should be an effective marketing tool for this new website. Recent market trends have made banner advertising much less expensive and it can be purchased either as traditional advertising based on total impressions or on a “click-through” cost that is charged only when a visitor actually clicks through to the WFI site. Space purchases, however, should be limited to deepest winter months, when target audiences are more likely to be online – and more likely to consider a move to sunny Florida. We can identify key job search sites by largest number of hits and/or specific industries such as high-tech, healthcare, hospitality, etc. and develop a specific marketing plan once a budget has been established. 5. Ongoing publicity on the site, including a major announcement of its completion, regular updates on services available and ongoing promotion in other news releases, also is planned. C. Marketing Action Plans The following strategies focus on key audiences for WFI‟s new Internet site, although we recommend that the interim site be updated on a regular basis until the new site is completed. 1. Internet Strategies Targeting Job Seekers. FS 445 specifically identifies jobseekers both in and out of state as target audiences for the new website. Following are specific activities to address that audience. Banner advertising detailed in the branding section will primarily be focused on job seekers. Building upon partnerships with Visit Florida and its members also should allow us to place click-through logos on their Internet sites. That would mean a snow-bound Wisconsin resident who lands on Visit Florida‟s site (or one of its members) could click on a “Work in Florida” logo and arrive at a web page that focuses on career opportunities here. A separate logo and domain address asking visitors already in Florida (presumably those with higher incomes) “why-go-home” would link to the same site. We also must develop stronger links between WFI and EFI, which owns the state‟s premier business site. While workforce issues are addressed as a resource, a separate link for visitors who may be searching for jobs not sites for business expansion should be highly visible. Other EDO sites, as well as local chambers of commerce, also should be encouraged to post the click-through link on their sites. 2. Internet Strategies Targeting Students. Another key audience identified in FS 445 is students. With an increased focus on the Internet in almost every classroom, using this medium to target students is a natural. A top priority should be building a partnership with Florida Trend to create links from their NEXT site. The new FTEN site (formerly CIS) is an outstanding link for students in secondary schools. Many high schools have built or are building websites of their own, and this should be a prominent link from those sites. Other DLES information, including the number of projected job openings in specific industries (perhaps broken down by education required) also could be repackaged for this audience to make it easier to understand. A separate page, including application forms, should be created for students interested in Careers for Florida‟s Future. This site also could include information on number of job openings and average starting salaries for graduates compiled from DLES data. 3. Internet strategies targeting business. The Internet may be the single most cost- effective way of reaching businesses, particularly small businesses who desperately need workforce and HR services but don‟t have time to visit one-stops or get involved in local business organizations. It will be critical that the new web site features online services that are particularly important to small businesses. Explore co-branding possibilities with Florida Trend magazine, including possibility of creating “Small Business Advisor” online written by Florida Trend’s Barbara Miracle as well as other sponsorship opportunities. Work with business partners to develop links from their sites for members who need assistance with recruiting and retaining employees. Ensure that all appropriate applications, forms and incentives are easily available, including on-line job request forms. Create opt-in mailing list targeted to businesses that encourages peer-to-peer information-sharing strategies. The long-term goal could be documenting business interest in workforce issues as part of our effort to develop a workforce publication with Florida Trend.