At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, recent graduates faced a world they couldn’t have imagined and a remote workplace they weren’t prepared for. There was a deluge of information immediately available, yet the resources primarily targeted career veterans, and were not designed to be accessible and appealing to teens and young adults. With Career Hacks, we were hoping to raise awareness for, and interest in, workforce readiness skills that are complementary to academic skills with a focus on addressing needs created by the pandemic, specifically, searching for a job and working remotely. Goals included:
In 2018, GBH requested and received a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) to “effectively and innovatively reimagine workforce readiness media for teens and young adults”. The funds were used to support a “sandbox” phase of R&D that allowed the team to develop and test short form video treatments to define an effective and impactful format and approach. The series drew on the College and Career Competency Framework developed by Drs. Amy Gaumer Erickson and Patricia Noonan at Kansas University who served as content experts and advisors, along with Jill Cook, Director of the American School Counselor Association, and Tiffany Curry, Human Resource Consultant at Caterpillar, Inc.
The focus of the content for this pilot phase was on workforce readiness skills associated with nonverbal communication, with the ultimate objective of informing the production of an expanded digital series for distribution on YouTube, LinkedIn and other social media platforms. The series was developed iteratively, with input throughout the entire production process from the target audience and advisors. The host choice was informed by target audience members who expressed a strong preference for a single host who was close to their age and learned along with the them, over an expert in the field who talked to them. The final videos were posted as a collection with companion support materials on PBS LearningMedia, a digital platform for teachers for use in the classroom and other educational settings.
Factors that played a critical role in the successful launch of the work-from-home series submitted for The Shorty Award, made possible through an additional CPB grant, included significant learnings and gains made through the pilot series; a production model resulting from the pilot that translated seamlessly to remote production; and the ability to immediately reengage with host, Camille Johnson, and her established following. Episode topics and titles were determined with input from content advisors and partners with appreciation for needs specific to remote production and the pandemic, as well as consideration for social media and SEO best practices.
Capitalizing on the flexible capabilities of conducting interviews over Zoom, the scope of experts was widened from ~5 as in the pilot episodes to over 20 contributors including career experts (for the actual hacks) and chorus members (for general input and humor). The goal was to achieve even greater diversity across career fields and backgrounds in order to reach a wider audience and further ensure that target audience members could identify with participants in the series. To achieve the desired shoot aesthetic, the team leaned into Camille’s “at-home YouTube” vlog look. A single camera was used for her direct to audience lines, natural reactions to the Zoom interviews, and side-angle inserts. The Zoom recording feature was leveraged to establish the experts POV of Camille speaking with them. Unique thumbnails and shareable assets were created by the social media team and distribution and promotion efforts focused on platforms where the target demographic consumes content (i.e. YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat).
The Career Hacks 10-episode work-from-home series launched on July 8, 2020. All episodes were posted as a collection on YouTube and three additional channels: GBH’s Instagram page via IGTV; GBH’s Twitter account; and a new Career Hacks Showcase Page on LinkedIn. The launch of the series was supported though an episode specific social media campaign that included shareable graphics, GIFs and teaser Stories.
We are very pleased with the public response to the Career Hacks work-from-home campaign and were able to achieve deeper knowledge about the target demographic and distribution platforms. GBH is currently seeking opportunities to expand the scope and reach of the series.
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