Trainees for trainees: An exciting experiment

28. Sep 2020

Trainees create their own media campaign with surprising results

Medebach. Parents on Facebook, children on Instagram – but both target audiences can be reached via traditional newspapers in particular. This is the surprising conclusion that came out of a workshop for trainees run by the medium-sized mechanical engineering company Paul Köster in Medebach. Over two days at the beginning of September, the five young employees Helen Müller, Luca Kuhnhenne, Jannis Pröpper, Leon Ittermann and Micha Schmidt designed and implemented a media campaign from start to finish under the title “Marketing Takeover – Azubis4Azubis” (Apprentices4Apprentices). The aim was not simply to reach young people in the region via various media channels, but also to spark their enthusiasm for an apprenticeship with Paul Köster GmbH for next year. The campaign, which ran over a total of 14 days, has now ended and those involved in the project are eager to find out if the success of their campaign can be measured in terms of the quality and quantity of applications actually submitted.
The shortage of skilled personnel and the constant search for young employees in eight different apprenticeship professions and two dual college courses offered by Paul Köster GmbH always require fresh ideas to reach and appeal to young people in the region and spark their interest in an apprenticeship with the mechanical engineering company in Medebach. From careers fairs, through PR and newspaper ads, to online marketing, companies have been exploring many different avenues to reach their target audience for years. But rarely is it clear which approach is the best. “In the past, we have been able to awaken the interest of young people in the region with a mixture of all the channels, but with the cancellation of all events because of the coronavirus pandemic, an important area for attracting the next generation of employees has disappeared overnight. The numbers of applications for trade professions has also been falling for years – so we wanted to exploit the current situation to carry out some research into the causes,” reports Ann-Kathrin Huneck, a member of the Marketing und Communication department at Paul Köster GmbH. It was in this context that the idea of a workshop for trainees came about, in which they could gain practical insights into the area of marketing and simultaneously create their own advertising campaign.

Analyzing the use of media and gathering ideas
Specifically, the five trainees from various apprenticeship courses spent the first day of the workshop analyzing their own use of the media, creating so-called personas, investigating the advertising channels open to their employer and collecting ideas for an effective media presence. It quickly became clear that in “their campaign” they wanted to provide information about the apprenticeship professions and make themselves available to answer questions for anyone who was interested. The financial framework for the entire project ran to a three-figure budget, which, along with the marketing campaigns on the social networks Facebook and Instagram, was not enough for a whole-page ad in the print media, but it surprised everyone that an ad of this sort would have been the first choice – despite the many digital alternatives. In the end, the quintet concentrated on a series of ads on Instagram.
It was a challenging project and ultimately it was a matter of turning theory into practice. The second day of the workshop therefore involved plenty of hard work writing texts, taking photographs and defining and planning for the target audience, before the first trainee campaign in the history of Paul Köster GmbH went live. A total of eight attractive posts were created. And they had a very wide reach, as the whole workforce at Paul Köster GmbH supported the project by sharing the posts assiduously. The five project managers, who were also given a small thank-you for their hard work, received comments, questions and messages in response to the posts, all of which they answered themselves – and they will continue to do so, as the most recent post appeared online only a few days ago.

Important insights for marketing work
“We are extremely happy with the results of the campaign to date and we have also gathered some important information for our marketing work in the future. I think we will be repeating the format moving forward and I am certain that there will be a few more surprises in the next workshop when it comes to the way the young generation uses the media,” concluded Hildegard Köster, HR Director at Paul Köster GmbH.

Press releases:
Westfalenpost Brilon 2020-10-09

Caption (from left): Trainees Helen Müller (Office Manager, 3rd year), Luca Kuhnhenne (Industrial Engineering Electrical Technician, 2nd year), Jannis Pröpper (Precision Machinist, 2nd year), Leon Ittermann (Precision Machinist, 2nd year) and Micha Schmidt (Systems Integration IT Specialist, 3rd year) put together an exciting media project in collaboration with Ann-Kathrin Huneck (Marketing and Communication).