2022 BC Economic Development Award Winner
The Northwest BC Workforce and Resident Attraction Initiative and the corresponding "What's Holding You Back?" launch campaign was developed in response to a regional need for compelling marketing resources and assets to attract prospective hires. This joint project between the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine, District of Kitimat, City of Terrace, City of Prince Rupert, District of New Hazelton and Village of Hazelton included the development of: a website; a Resident Attraction Guide in the form of a print brochure; the commencement and management of Instagram, Facebook and YouTube social channels; brand guidelines for participating stakeholders; a print ad; video spots, including a local resident success story and a signature campaign video; four ads and eight flash highlights; and lastly, media relations support.
The project was driven by comprehensive market research including 60 key informant interviews, key research sources, analysis of competitor campaigns, and polling of 1,942 adults across Canada. This data formed the foundation of the marketing language, allowing us to develop very specific key audience profiles and address the desires of prospective residents and new hires, while dispelling some of the misconceptions of life within Northwest BC.
The project was multi-phased, with the first phase focused on foundation and relationship building, and developing tools to increase public awareness of Northwest BC as an attractive region to live, work and play. The second phase focused on shifting beliefs, attitudes and perceptions about Northwest BC for those who may be considering a career and/or location change. The third phase consisted of developing and implementing tools, and sharing information with potential new residents, allowing them to effectively evaluate Norwest BC with competing regions. The fourth phase, which is ongoing, is managing and coordinating communications as prospective residents reach out to stakeholders within the region.
As the saying goes "a rising tide raises all boats" and as such, this project's collective approach to marketing the region has been effective in providing the foundation for further economic growth in the participating municipalities. Northwest BC already contributes to a large share of British Columbia's natural resource and export capacity, but employee and resident attraction and retention is a long-standing, major priority. As such, joining together with a singular focus, complementary materials and assets and providing similar tools to prospective residents has positioned the region as a strong competitor to other areas of the province.
Recruitment officers within the region, local organizations and businesses have reported a positive impact from the materials and assets created and are seeing potential residents reach out to them as a result of their engagement with these materials.
While the ultimate goal of enticing residents to relocate to Northwest BC may take a number of years to be realized in a statistically significant way, this project has laid the foundation for further economic growth through providing research-driven marketing materials and assets to attract future residents and employees.
Since the launch of this project, Northwest BC has seen an increase in awareness and interest from people looking to relocate for both lifestyle and employment opportunities.
Major employers in the region such as Coast Mountain School District (CMSD), Rio Tinto, MNP and Coastal GasLink have been sharing and making use of campaign launch assets with prospective employers and contractors. CMSD, a major employer and job source for the region, has included our launch campaign video footage into their teacher-specific recruitment videos.
A digital ad campaign ran from October 6, 2021 to December 2, 2021 that resulted in numerous quality leads. People both from within Canada and internationally accessed our Get in Touch form. Requests included information on retirement opportunities, how to relocate an established out-of-province construction company, options for those in the customs clearance industry, and with numerous requests for general information.
Analytics from this launch campaign point to its success and indicated that prospective employers are using campaign assets beyond major employers that were handed assets directly. We ran 30 ads across Facebook and YouTube that received a total of 6,018,645 total impressions, 573,069 video views and 33,171 link clicks (Facebook only). The Facebook advertising campaign garnered 329,339 engagements, 179 comments, 1,156 reactions, 37 post saves and 127 post shares.
The campaign has also received widespread positive feedback from communities and organizations. Physical copies of our Resident Attraction Guide were given to employers across the region and numerous large employers have been handing out resources to prospective employees.
Following our Town Hall, we were approached by two additional communities who expressed interest in joining the initiative. One was within the region and one was unfortunately outside of the geographical boundaries.
This project was designed to be both replicable and transferable, and our tools and platforms were designed to accommodate the inclusion of additional communities in Northwest BC and following our campaign launch Town Hall on August 25, 2021, the community of Stewart expressed interest in joining the initiative. The methods and tools can be adapted for use in other communities as the framework is already set and project stakeholders and community partners are highly motivated to share this project's success.
The comprehensive market research efforts informed our creation of our target audience, or personas for this region, and guided our content creation, website development, and the marketing campaign. This data-driven approach is replicable in any region as the specific data will inform the marketing efforts and reveal desires and perceptions of potential residents specific to that area.
Within the launch campaign, our branding efforts were also designed to be replicable and transferable, focusing on an overall colour palette and design feel, rather than on a concrete logo to define the region. These brand guidelines were then implemented in each community allowing them to highlight their own landmarks, areas of interest and specific attractions while providing a cohesive feel for prospective residents.
Lessons learned include the value of working together as a region. Collaboration drove this campaign's success and can make a big impact for smaller communities and leverage a larger collective purse to support the cost of attracting residents to a region that is not yet well known. This cost-effective approach allows for greater marketing efforts across the region, and leaving individual communities the opportunity and resources to continue the work they're doing, to improve quality of life and economic development.
Employer feedback is incredibly useful as insights highlight what is actually needed, and enables us to narrow efforts to suit employers and stretch dollars further. As such we are continually adjusting to meet their needs and support their efforts.
Consistency in following our research-based plan, our research-based marketing campaign, and ongoing efforts has been a large part of our success. Although this project has been successful in its public launch and dissemination of supports and resources, we will continue to support ongoing marketing and improvements to the project as we continue to learn more prospective residents and what local employers need.
Another lesson learned is that having a system in place to triage incoming requests for information is key when there are multiple communities involved. Assigned community representatives tasked with supporting possible new residents access information and make connections would help close the loop on supporting someone to make the move to the region.