HR Insights, HR Management

Building a Brand: What Would Your HR Department “Elevator” Pitch Be?

elevator-speech

If you had to create a commercial for your HR department, what would it say? In creating brochures or other collateral material, what would be the value that you would bullet point?

I thought of this during the recent Super Bowl. There was just so much chatter about the ads. The marketing/advertising departments at these companies that advertised put in long hours getting their message out. To the advertising industry, the Super Bowl stage is the apex of the year.

This stage has become what I would call the American Idol of the industry.

Create your HR brand

If your HR department had to create an ad about the value of your brand and the importance of your function, what key points would you use to craft a relevant story?

There were a lot of hits and misses during the Super Bowl this past Sunday. Some of them we got and some still have us scratching our heads.

If we had to get up and tell our story, would it be believable? Would our organization buy our product if we had to compete with another HR organization?

The department elevator pitch

We have all heard of the elevator pitch and we fully understand the importance of the concept. But what would be the HR department pitch?

If you were presenting to your board your plan and you had to condense it to, say, two minutes (a typical elevator pitch length), what would it be? What would you pitch sans PowerPoint? What value are you bringing? How are you as an HR department going to do to help the organization achieve its goals? Is your plan workable? How would you craft a narrative?

My thought has always been that HR should pitch their services throughout the organization. Every employee should be aware of the “services” that we offer.

During onboarding, HR should make a strong pitch about the products of HR.  Right now it seems that the initial paperwork is the defining moment of what we are about. However, there should be a strong focus during the onboarding process about the product called HR and the benefits derived from making use of its services.

Besides the normal HR processes, what are you offering and what value do we bring?

Building brand value

These companies that participated in last week’s Super Bowl of advertising spent an enormous amount of time getting their concept up, creating the ad, and creating tie in with social media — all with the ultimate goal of increasing the value of the brand. I’m sure these projects were not thrown together in a few work sessions. And once it was all over, you can bet there were numerous debriefs as to what’s next and the planning starts all over again.

The winner and loser of the actual Super Bowl game go through the same process, albeit from different angles.  The winner (in this case, Green Bay) is focused on “how do we repeat?” and the loser (Pittsburgh) is focused on “how do we not only get back here, but how do we win the next time?”

In time they will present their pitch to the owners, other coaches, and eventually the team. Their pitch will be about improving their game in all departments — offense, defense, special teams, etc.

Every organization goes through this type of review as part of the normal business cycle.  The year end review, and what we do differently next year, is the guiding factor.

This is important, because as Albert Einstein (or some say Ben Franklin) once said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting different results.”

If we could start over and do it differently this year, what changes would we make? Would it make a credible pitch?

Nobody owns their brand

With the advent of social media, nobody owns their brand. Every time that we interact, whether that be in a meeting or one on one, we are sending out our message. Every one-on-one interaction results in sending our branding message out.

And every interaction is an opportunity to burnish our brand. Every time we present, we are beaming like a light house, and our beacon is being picked up. Is it the right signal? Although we may not own it, we can sure as hell help shape it.

So next time we present in any format, think of the Super Bowl ads and whether your message is getting through.

Ron Thomas is a Chief Human Resource & Administrative Officer currently based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He formerly was Director, Talent and Human Resources Solutions at Buck Consultants (a Xerox Company) and is certified by the Human Capital Institute as a Master Human Capital Strategist (MHCS) and Strategic Workforce Planner (SWP). He's also worked in senior HR roles with Martha Stewart Living and IBM. Ron serves on the Harvard Business Review Advisory Council, McKinsey Quarterly Executive Online Panel, and HCI's Expert Advisory Council on Talent Management Strategy. He also serves as a Faculty Partner and Executive Facilitator at the Human Capital Institute. He has received the Outstanding Leadership Award for Global HR Excellence by the World Human Resource Development Congress in Mumbai. Contact him at ronaldtthomas@gmail.com, or on Twitter at http://twitter.com/Ronald_thomas.