By Nancy Marshall, The PR Maven® 

PR Strategy at the State Level: How Katie Shorey and Her Team Are Spreading the Love About Maine

  • Gaining a meaningful understanding of your target audience will ensure that your communications strategy makes good use of your time and resources.

For nearly 100 years, my home state of Maine has had a reputation as “Vacationland.” The word has been printed on our license plates since 1936, after all.

But Maine is about more than just lobster rolls, blueberry ice cream, peaceful beaches and gorgeous hiking trails. As a proud Mainer, I can confirm it’s also a great place to live and work full-time. Enter Live + Work in Maine, an organization solely focused on spreading that message and encouraging more people to establish themselves personally and professionally right here in the Pine Tree State.

On Episode 134 of The PR Maven Podcast, I was lucky enough to host Katie Shorey, who works as the director of engagement for Live + Work in Maine.

“Our mission is talent attraction and retention,” Katie says of her team. “We are not a placement or recruiting firm, but instead really see ourselves as a marketing, communications and storytelling arm.”

In partnership with Maine employers who work with Live + Work in Maine to educate prospective Maine transplants about the opportunities available to them here, Katie and her colleagues within the organization are focused on supporting the state’s goal to bring 70,000 new people into our workforce over the next decade. The circumstances of the recent pandemic have presented a unique new chapter in this ongoing mission.

PR Strategy at the State Level: How Katie Shorey and Her Team Are Spreading the Love About MaineAn old story in new times: Spreading the message amid COVID-19

As more people have shifted to full-time remote work in response to pandemic restrictions over the last year, Katie and her co-workers have observed an influx of folks relocating to Maine. Drawn in by the promises of “Vacationland,” these people have found a silver lining in an otherwise difficult time, taking advantage of the flexibility granted by remote work and joining us here in Maine without even needing to secure a new job.

Katie and the team at Live + Work in Maine hope to continue spreading the Maine love even as life returns to a new normal post-pandemic. Keeping up the momentum and attracting new talent to Maine employers means there’s never a dull moment for Katie.

“I feel like I wear so many hats,” she says. “I’m kind of the jack of all trades. But we really see ourselves as a connector and a convener. It’s a really fun place to be. It’s a great vantage point, to know that there’s so much energy around trying to get talent in the state [and] to stay in the state.”

Read on for some of the key lessons in marketing and communications that Katie has learned in attracting new Maine residents through Live + Work in Maine.

1. Forge partnerships whenever possible

Live + Work in Maine works with local employers in several ways.

Any Maine employer can create a profile to showcase their work and culture to anyone hoping to relocate to our state. Live + Work in Maine also has its own job board. But Maine employers who want to take it a step further can come on board as “employer partners,” of which Live + Work in Maine currently has thirteen. These partners offer funding to the organization and work together on more extensive talent attraction projects and targeted marketing campaigns.

“We truly try to partner whenever we can,” Katie says.

This spirit of partnership can translate to any kind of communications and public relations strategy.

2. Understand your target audience

Katie knows there’s one demographic that might be especially open to moving to Maine: people who have some personal connection with or affinity to the state from a previous experience.

“Maybe they grew up here,” she says. “Maybe they went to college in Maine, but now they live in Boston. Maybe they went to camp here, but now they live in Boston. That’s a typical, ideal candidate.”

Knowing that it’s people who fall into these categories who are most likely to “boomerang” back to Maine, Live + Work in Maine (in partnership with Startup Maine) has allotted resources to the greater Boston area. In the past they have dispatched hiring managers and representatives from local startups there for conversations about what’s happening in various industries in Maine “just to paint a picture of Maine as a great place for your career.”

Having a clear understanding of the audience for any PR or marketing campaign can inspire these kinds of targeted approaches.

3. Look for ways to reinvent the wheel

Yes — there are, in fact, times when you should reinvent the wheel.

Take full-time jobs, for example. The conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic have necessitated many changes to the way individuals and families think about work. Katie and her colleagues have applied this to their talent attraction efforts.

“When you think about the pandemic, women [have borne] the brunt, and how can we help them get back into the workforce?” Katie says. “And it could be really creative solutions — maybe full-time jobs aren’t the answer! Maybe it’s job sharing, maybe it’s having just a bit more flexibility.”

Along with their employer partners, Live + Work in Maine is working to communicate these creative solutions in order to reach their shared goals.

4. Explore new platforms

Remember when Katie described herself as a “jack of all trades?” If you’re looking for proof, all you have to do is check out Dock & Dine, a Maine Life Media television show that Katie hosts! Sponsored by Live + Work in Maine, Dock & Dine highlights local employers and shines a spotlight on some of the state’s most fun spots.

“I had a lot of fun doing that last year and learning all about the TV world,” she says. “It was a whole new thing for me and a skill I was able to work on. I was very fortunate to be able to capture some stories about why people love living and working in Maine.”

By jumping into a new form of media — even without experience! — Katie was able to spread her team’s message even further.

This is based on episode 134 of The PR Maven® Podcast, a podcast hosted by Nancy Marshall. Weekly interviews feature industry leaders, top executives, media personalities and online influencers to give listeners a peek into the world of public relations, marketing and personal branding. Subscribe through Apple, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts.