Projects

B2B Client Attraction Websites

Tue, 15 February 2011

You do a little bit every day to move the needle. In 2010, Hudson did a lotta bit every day to try to move the needle. One of the things we examined were our Client facing websites for Hudson North America. In the staffing and professional services business what you try to sell most is trust. Trust that our people are the best at what they do, and trust that we have been there and solved your problem before. The problem is that most clients are skeptical when you talk about yourself all the time. “We’re the best this”, or “Look at all about us”. What they want to know is “How can you help me?”; “Do you understand my problems?”. So, we made a simple shift from talking about us, to trying to identify with client problems. We then featured some key case studies that prove that we can solve the kinds of problems that clients have.

These were baby steps of progress in 2010. Have a look at my Hudson Microsites 2010 Portfolio entry to read more details about the redesign project. I thought it was a good time to post it and get any comments from the market. We are learning, and embarking on further redesign work to continue to push our sites to help our clients address their business issues.

Hudson Financial Solutions Home Page 2004-2009
Click to view 2004-2009 home page

Hudson Financial Solutions Home Page 2010+
Click to view 2010 home page

Posted in: Interactive Marketing for Staffing Firms, Marketing Strategy, Projects, Staffing SEO/SEM, User Experience Design | No Comments »
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How’s YOUR Staffing Firm Intranet?

Tue, 09 June 2009

Well, friends I’m nearing the end of the longest web project of my career. When we embarked on creating a new intranet for Hudson North America over two and a half years ago, I would have never predicted that it would take this long. Sure, we wanted to do it right. We engaged an ethnographic researcher to help us uncover the real needs behind the needs of our users. We took those requirements and handed them to a “real” interactive agency to get wireframes for workflows that would address the issues head on. From there, we chose a platform – Sharepoint 2007, no slouch of a platfom to configure, test, customize, and test again. We designed and branded the look and feel twice as the launch pushed through multiple leadership teams and re-branding efforts. It culminates this week with a “Beta” launch of the system via a link from our old intranet, an email from our President and a splashy Camtasia demo I’ve locked myself in my office creating for 4 days.

I’m excited about the prospects of what a “real” intranet can mean for our firm. It can be such a challenge for leaders to wrangle together a cohesive vision from far-flung offices and disparate work processes. Email just isn’t up to the task, and forget about the dreaded weekly conference calls. To create a truly productive and cohesive professional services firm for the long term, I believe your intranet must be robust, comprehensive, and adaptable to the constant change in the business. How else can you retain knowledge in a business with 40% employee turnover? Yet, when you search online for any evidence of staffing firm intranets, there is little to no information. I found a synopsis of Australian Job Board Seek’s Intranet redesign, but I have yet to come across a true staffing service provider’s (If you happen to see any coverage, please do forward me the link).

Is the lack of information an indicator of the staffing industry’s sentiment toward their intranets? Or, is it that everyone believes they have some super-secret formula for success that they are just unwilling to share? I would wager that staffing firms are currently focused on survival rather than productivity, but there are those who will use their intranet to position themselves for long-term success.

Posted in: Interactive Marketing for Staffing Firms, Projects, User Experience Design | 5 Comments »
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The Video Blog Camera is Rolling

Fri, 13 March 2009

If you aren’t constantly taking risks in your career, you either a.) don’t work in an environment that encourages risk, or b.) haven’t developed the wherewithal to know that risk is the ONLY way to grow your career. So, I contemplated my career during the dark days of Winter, trying to figure out what my next risk was going to be to keep things interesting.

As if I didn’t have enough big, meaty project launches to do, I decided to figure out how to video blog. This has been a fascinating journey so far, and something that aligns well with the one video class I took in college doing edits on VHS tape. The end result of this fun with the video camera will hopefully be a video resume that I can add to my website. I’m chronicling the journey though as I try to help others accomplish the same.

Here’s my first video blog posting.

You can follow the rest of the series here:
http://ithirewire.com/finding-work/kris-video-resume-how-toproject.html

Enjoy.

Posted in: Interactive Marketing for Staffing Firms, Web Video | 1 Comment »
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‘Review Ninja’ Featured in Hudson Legal Video #4

Sat, 20 December 2008

Just in time for your holiday enjoyment we’ve launched a 4th video in our Hudson online video series that I’ve been working on since the beginning of the year. In it you’ll find some quality coverage of the people who manage huge document review projects (sometimes 200-300 people) and keep their cool under pressure.

Shot on location in DC, New York, and Charlotte, it is meant to close out the behind the scenes view of our Legal practice, before moving on to some videos of our Financial Solutions practice (coming up in January 2009).

Lessons Learned in Production
The prior video in the “monthly” series launched on July 30, 2008. And here we are in December. I had always assumed there would be some risk with featuring employees in a video project. In this case that risk was realized because 2 of the original ‘stars’ are no longer with the company. We hit the editing suite for some creative ways around our missing characters and still managed to maintain the integrity of the original message. However, it cost precious months in the launch schedule.

Here is a good lesson for any video project: expect staff changes. Prepare leadership for the possibility. Do your best to mitigate the risk that having any one staff member leave can cause to your video project, then cross your fingers. Once the video is live, do your best to convince the team that the video remains a viable representation of the company no matter who is featured. It is a snapshot of a team at a time and place in an ever-mobile business environment.

Posted in: Projects, Web Video | No Comments »
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Setting Up a Legal Review Center, Reality Style

Wed, 30 July 2008

Live and direct from the Hudson homepage today is the 3rd episode of the online video magazine that has been a labor of love for me. The shoot for this video was a ton of fun. I had never been to Philly before, so visiting a new city and catching a ballgame was awesome.

I also really got to know Ed Caufield, the highest quality human you could meet – seriously. Not many people are enthusiastic about having a camera in their face while they do their job, but Ed embraced the project wholeheartedly. Whereas some people need directing, Ed had the locations for the shoot planned out for us. Ed is also Mr. Philadelphia. He is such a genuine and likable person, that he knows everyone in the building from the top manager to the parking lot attendant. When he walks down the street people honk their horn and say “Hey Ed what’s up!”. He’s just that nice, and that much fun to work with.

So, enjoy the vid, and let me know what you think.

Posted in: Interactive Marketing for Staffing Firms, Projects, Web Video | No Comments »
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Hudson Launches its First Blog: IT Hire Wire

Mon, 14 July 2008

IT Hire Wire Banner

Last week Hudson launched IT Hire Wire, a blog targeted at professional-level IT candidates. For me, it is the culmination of nearly 10 months of work to test a more transparent way of doing business online for Hudson, and an intense bit of learning in my marketing career (check my tweets along the way). Before I get to outlining the project and some of the lessons learned to date, let me first encourage you to visit the blog, read some entries, and leave any comments that you’d like regarding the project. I appreciate any feedback received.

Making the Case for a Recruiting Blog
IT Hire Wire originated through the same strategic process that brought about our Web Video efforts. As I mentioned here,

…our global marketing team convened to discuss new media and the social web phenomena. At the time, recruitment on Second Life and MySpace was grabbing headlines, while YouTube and blogging were creeping into corporate communication strategy. The common themes were transparency, authenticity and audience control of the message.

On a limited budget we agreed to test one or two new media channels to begin to participate in this movement. While not ideal to choose a channel before defining goals, we knew that a certain amount of experimentation would be required to remain competitive.

To shepherd the project, I started by getting more knowledgeable about blogging than I ever had been before. I familiarized myself with the latest tools like WordPress and various social websites like MyBlogLog, Del.icio.us, RSS feeds, Twitter, and Facebook. This resulted in my new personal blog and a blogroll filled with competitive sites that I admire.

With this as a backdrop, I lobbied hard for the blog project when budget season came around. I wanted the help of an agency to make sure we set the cultural groundwork properly within Hudson, and to have enough resources to complete the project on top of an already heavy load.

Enter Cowboy Advertising
In November of 2007, we contracted with Cowboy Advertising to assist with our blog effort. From that time until our launch, the Cowboy team was instrumental in getting our internal group of bloggers aligned with the project mission. Together we chose our IT practice to pilot the program because we felt the target audience was most comfortable with blogs. At the same time our IT recruiters were likely to be the most blog-savvy of our employee population.

Creative Direction
Cowboy helped to facilitate conference calls as we concurrently decided upon a creative and technical direction as well as got our bloggers up to speed on how to write content. We wanted to differentiate the site’s look from the many tech news or gadget blogs out there and, at the same time not take ourselves too seriously. We ended up with a theme that evokes the balance of work, life, and the technical knowledge it takes for a successful IT career.

The Cost of Blog Development
None of the agency-provided services came without cost. While the theory is that you can do a blog for practically free on any public blogging platform in an evening, the reality is that involving an agency cost us significant dollars. I do believe that it bought us excellent creative, and a thought out editorial process that will be crucial to our long-term success.

I’ll provide updates on further development as the project progresses. For now enjoy the blog, and let me know what you think!

Posted in: Blogging, Interactive Marketing for Staffing Firms, Projects, Staffing Firm Blogs | No Comments »
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Hudson Legal Web Video #2: Hitting Our Reality Stride

Thu, 19 June 2008

Hudson Legal Assembling the Team video

The second installment of our online video series launched a few days ago. As I promised on my video #1 reflections I thought it would be useful to dive deeper into what we have learned during production.

Piggyback Your Shoots
Hudson has offices spread out all over the US. Coordinating the production of a video shoot in those offices on a monthly basis could become a full-time job. It takes a lot to schedule hotels, and flights, schedule the subjects of the videos, etc. So, at Cantaloupe’s suggestion we chose to shoot 2 locations that are in relatively close geographic proximity (New York and Philadelphia) to capture content for 2 videos at once. This has been immensely helpful as we have refined our email marketing approach and other promotion tactics instead of being in the field shooting video #3.

Get into an Editing Rhythm
We went through a lot of iterations in the editing of video #1. Having never done a series like this, we spent a lot of time trying to establish the tone and overall storyline for the series. Much of the back and forth was properly setting up the viewer to know what the series would be all about. With video #2, the editing process was FAR easier. The production team knew what to do with the second story based on learnings from the first piece. Their initial edit was 85% of what we needed, and we had only some minor tweaks from there. We knew the team was in a rhythm, which made things much more smooth.

Use a Video Timeline
In the editing process, I found it really helpful to build a full timeline of the video with minutes/seconds counters and text explanations of the scenes. It was then extremely easy for everyone involved in providing feedback to reference specific times and sequences in the video.

Track Video Effectiveness
Cantaloupe provides us with a really compelling backend tracking tool called Backlight. Within Backlight, we can see exactly how many people have viewed the video, how many viewers made it through the piece and how many dropped out at what point in the video. This helps inform us on the right length for the segments and where we may have missed the mark on content. Have a look at the graph shown below. You can see how many seconds into the video users start to trail off and stop watching.

Web Video Stats
Screen capture from Cantaloupe Backlight stats tracking.

Promote the Video via Email
Of course, once you spend time creating a video masterpiece, you’d like to attract as many viewers to it as possible. Part of it is to regularly email prospects and customers about the video. We send out nicely formatted emails to people who hopefully “follow” the series to let them know another video is out there. I thought the promise of seeing video content at one point in the web cycle would have caused astronomical open and click through rates. The first piece we sent we received a 15% open rate and 20% of the opens clicked through to watch the video. I don’t have any idea yet whether those are good or bad stats. If anyone has that information, please let me know.

Email Marketing Hudson Legal
The email marketing teaser to encourage you to watch the next video in the reality series

I’m excited that Video #2 is live because it shows the real story of Hudson’s people in a very real way. Now that we’ve hit our reality stride, I can’t wait to see where this takes us.

Posted in: Interactive Marketing for Staffing Firms, Web Video | No Comments »
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Hudson’s First Web Video Project

Tue, 06 May 2008

Hudson Legal Web Video

Before you read this blog entry, have a look at part 1 of the video magazine at us.hudson.com. I’d love to know what you think of it. For curious interactive marketers and other onlookers I’m about to outline the rationale of the project, its background, challenges, triumphs, and next steps. First though, would you write down your unbiased answers to these questions?

Your First Impressions

  • Did you have any problems viewing or hearing the video?
  • Did you watch all of it, or did you bail out?
  • What is the point of the video?
  • Are you enticed to view the rest of the series?

I’d really appreciate it if you’d leave your answers in the comments on this post. This has been quite a learning experience for me personally, and your comments will just add to it.

Making the Case for Web Video
In April of last year, our global marketing team convened to discuss new media and the social web phenomena. At the time, recruitment on Second Life and MySpace was grabbing headlines, while YouTube and blogging were creeping into corporate communication strategy. The common themes were transparency, authenticity and audience control of the message.

On a limited budget we agreed to test one or two new media channels to begin to participate in this movement. While not ideal to choose a channel before defining goals, we knew that a certain amount of experimentation would be required to remain competitive. Over the next 6 months the case for web video became clear – instead of writing about the “professionalism” of our people we would let their stories demonstrate it.

Enter Cantaloupe.tv
After speaking with a few large agencies who wanted to charge high-end video prices to execute for the web, I was referred to Cantaloupe.tv. Jon DiGregory, one of Cantaloupe’s founders, pitched “disposable video stories” that would be compiled into an online video magazine. What Jon meant by disposable is that the relevance of web video only lasts for a short period of time similar to magazine articles. To attract viewers, the stories should be short and frequent. Jon advocates low budget, medium quality, documentary productions that revolve around the real story. After I looked at a few other client examples of reality shows, I knew we had our video partner. Taking a leap of faith, we decided to build a 12 part video magazine throughout the remainder of this year and into 2009.

Defining the Story
The first task was to define goals that we wanted viewers to take away from the videos. Cantaloupe facilitated a story building session with our marketing team and members from the business that revealed scenarios we could use to build episodes. We decided to focus on one line of business at a time starting with Hudson Legal. The result was a well defined story document that will drive the shooting of our first few episodes.

Shooting and Editing the Video
With a producer and one videographer we shot our first production at a meeting in Philadelphia in early March. As expected, the team being filmed was uncomfortable at first. After a while though the camera disappeared and they were able to function more naturally. The confessionals within the episode laid the groundwork for upcoming shoots and prepped the team for what’s to come.

Editing of the video went through March and into April. The amount of editing between the marketing team, the business leaders, and Cantaloupe surprised me. Getting a video production that everyone is happy with was VERY time consuming, and one of the hidden gotchas of this project.

Framework Build-out
Once the heavy lifting of creating the web video was complete, we needed to integrate it into our websites. The online magazine framework provided by Cantaloupe would be right on our homepage where a static graphic billboard had previously resided. Our theory, of course is that its prominent location will drive the most views and entice users to interact with the rest of the site. We also will feature the videos on our microsite home pages for our different business units when they are featured within the video.

Post-Launch Activities
Now that the first episode is live, there is still plenty to do. In follow-up posts I will discuss our email marketing strategy and some of the reactions, questions that arise as we go down this path, and likely the ROI of all this effort. As we speak, we already have seven tapes worth of footage ‘in the can’ that will comprise episodes 2 and 3.

Posted in: Interactive Marketing for Staffing Firms, Projects, Web Video | 4 Comments »
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Long in the tooth

Fri, 07 November 2003

Gawd does my site need a redesign. I’m sick of it. It’s like a pair of fahionable shoes that I’ve worn well past their expiration date. What with my smattering of home made Christmas gifts in process, my ongoing contributions to religious society, and the raising of 2 babies, this site is doomed to come back into style like a good Salvation Army find.

Posted in: Interactive Marketing for Staffing Firms, Projects | No Comments »
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Savoyeur

Thu, 10 April 2003

Thank God it’s over. For the past 6 months our team at TMP has been working to put together the Savoy Professional Networking Series. The first event was held last night at the W Hotel in Chicago. It brought together top African American professionals to network, while we sold our clients the ability to set up a table at the event and recruit from this talented pool of people. I’d say that the event was a huge success. There were many happy networkers, free drinks, groovy music, and a fascinating keynote speaker – George Fraser. The amount of work that went into this – building a website, coming up with sales sheets, inviting participants, stuffing folders, and helping the team just establish the ground rules for the event was daunting. Luckily, we get to do it all over again for June 5th in NY. For now I’ll revel in the nice party I attended, and the really cool people I met. Yawn… back to work.

Posted in: Interactive Marketing for Staffing Firms, Projects | No Comments »
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This is my Life as a 37 year old husband and father of two and my Work as Executive Director of Marketing at Bennett International Group in Mconough, GA relocating from home in Rochester, NY.
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