With stay-at-home orders and caution in the time of COVID-19, local media organizations have pivoted their events strategies to align with mandates and safety measures. In this series on virtual local media events, read about innovations that helped sustain events as a boon for revenue and community engagement despite extenuating circumstances.

The Blade is the premier northwestern Ohio newspaper, publishing for over 180 years. They have provided in-person career fairs twice a year for a long time, but of course, 2020 had different plans.

With many local businesses reopening, Toledo employers need to connect with job seekers quickly. The Blade’s classified manager, Connie Cross, partnered with Recruitology to bring a virtual career fair to their market in July. 

The Blade’s fair attracted 18 employers and nearly 200 job seekers to their event.

Initially, selling to employers was a bit challenging as the “virtual” fair concept was new to them.

“Toledo takes a little while to embrace the ‘new,'” Cross said.

But once the sales effort warmed up, and the first few employers got on board, it became progressively easier to add more exhibitors, she said.

Setting up each employer’s booth took about 10 minutes. Most employers set up their own booths, adding a description, pictures or video, as appropriate. In some cases, Cross’s team did the setup for them, drawing information from the employer’s website.

The event itself went smoothly, she said. Cross’s team followed up with a brief survey to their exhibitors.

One large hospital chain replied, “We enjoyed that there was a chat function [allowing us to] talk with potential candidates. We found that the morning time slot got more traffic.”

The event provided live chat opportunities over two days; recruiters were available for a range of morning and afternoon hours. 

Career fairs require good participation from both employers and candidates. The Blade’s job seeker outreach included digital advertising on their properties and Facebook, print and TV.

For their next fair, Cross plans to do more with paid digital advertising, and said she thinks that job seeker participation will grow as awareness of virtual events grows in their area. With the latest incremental unemployment payment being eliminated, some expect additional job seekers to enter the market.

Cross and her team look forward to their next virtual career fair opportunity, she said.

“We’re happy we found a new way to help our employers. Our Recruitology team worked hard to make this a success for everyone.”

“We’re excited to provide a virtual event platform to help media partners support their communities and for employers and job seekers to connect,” Recruitology CEO Roberto Angulo said. “Now is a perfect time to get creative with our technical expertise and resources to build solutions that work.”