Hearst’s Talent Team Is Honing in What Its Famous Name Stands for

Hearst Television, with 30 local TV stations, a couple radio stations, and about 21 million households watching, is upgrading its career site and employment brand, replacing something that was partially formed but not communicated as clearly and strongly as the company wanted.

Among the challenges: not only are Hearst TV’s employees in different locations, but its jobs are all over the board: accountant, salesperson, traffic reporter, meteorologist. To complicate matters, consumers — and thus potential employees — know their local news station perhaps, but not as much about the company behind it.

This work began in 2015.

Katherine Barnett, HR VP at Hearst Television, says it wasn’t looking to “supplant” local messages, but rather to add more about the overall Hearst brand to the company’s value proposition. The goal is and was “more candidates, more qualified candidates,” she says.

At the time, the company’s career site wasn’t much beyond “email the news director with your resume,” she says.

The company did a large research project, including focus groups of employees from about 17 locations, as well as corporate executives.

Hearst Television also interviewed non-employees to see how the company was perceived.

The research, done with a company called Talent Works (where an SVP, Jody Robie, is an ex-Hearst employee) found, Barnett says, “really strong connective tissue from station to station.”

Back at the corporate office, the data was analyzed so that everyone was on the same page about what the focus groups and other research showed, as well as how the company’s message would end up.

Across TV stations and other locations, Hearst learned at least three attributes seemed to be running themes throughout its workforce: employees strive for excellence, are very competitive (“we keep score in all possible ways,” Barnett says), and she says, they “have a heart.”

At that point, and we’re into 2016 here, Hearst whittled this down and arrived at the message that candidates can “be the bigger picture” and that “the story is yours.” Both phrases are, naturally, a bit of a play on words for a company in the TV journalism game.

Hearst TV started communicating its value proposition at career events.

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As 2016 progressed, the company began work on what is now a new career site, collecting photos, writing copy, and putting together a video embedded here.

Hearst’s site is a work in progress. It’s hoping each station can put together its own video, which it can use on the site. It’s also working on veteran recruiting, sending its veteran recruiting director to military bases.

Barnett says there are strong parallels between what its company does and what veterans have accomplished. When there’s danger, she says, the attitude with both is not about seeking safety, but, “who’s running in?” And, she says, “if they can fix a tank, they can fix our sat truck.”