Recruit Topeka/Shawnee County First

Recruit Topeka Shawnee County banner for web

The community has expressed concern about business human resource personnel, realtors, and members of the general public who openly recommend people to consider living in Lawrence and Kansas City rather than locating to Topeka and Shawnee County First. In order to achieve population growth and sustainability there is a need to highlight and sell Topeka in a unified and compelling voice.

Recruit Topeka & Shawnee County First Conversation about Zillow 9.30.16

Discussing: Misty Kruger, Bryon Schlosser, Ashley Charest, Barbara Stapelton, Rick Nesbit, Kristen Brunkow

What we know…

1. Consumers place more emphasis on data delivered by the internet than it deserves. The public’s perspective of the school and neighborhood is based on the ratings, so we need to work within the idea that this is their reality.

2. When consumers search on the internet for information about homes for sale, about 64% of those views happen on Zillow; 29% on; 4% on and 3% on a long list of other sites.

3. Over 50% of the internet searches for homes for sale in Topeka are made from computers located outside of Topeka.

3.,,, cjonline (The Capital-Journal’s website) all include school district ratings as well as individual school building ratings on a scale of 1-10, allegedly based on the quality of the education received. All of these ratings are provided to the websites by the same source:

4. We also fear that consumers rely on these ratings as accurately assessing the quality of the school districts and buildings to the detriment of our recruiting efforts.

5. Bryon estimates Zillow spends roughly 4 million a month on SEO (Search Engine Optimization) this is how they get the eyeballs on their website. So this can inform us to begin thinking of other ways we should be using SEO.

6. Zillow doesn’t do anything with ratings, they strictly pull from

7. The Superintendents and ICC showed concern and interest in learning more about this topic

8. 2012 is the data that GreatSchools shows and the data from 2013 & 2014 are deemed unavailable. 2015 data is in the midst of being negotiated with GreatSchools

9. Ranking in Kansas comes strictly from test scores and comments are not at all related to the ranking

Next Steps

  • Misty Kruger is going to see when GreatSchools intends to update Kansas’s data to show college readiness, student achievement & student growth. We may set up a skype meeting with a GreatSchools representative.
  • Misty Kruger is going to learn more about Shawnee County’s comparison against the rest of Kansas
  • Kristen is going to ask Molly (GO Topeka) what companies like to use to see the quality of schools
  • We are going to ask Lisa Stubbs to talk to Department of Education to see if the test scores are worse in 2015 vs. 2012 in the context of the bell curve of Shawnee County vs. the whole state

Future Steps

  • Speak with ICC in November or December sharing the situation, and solution ideas such as positive comment campaign both from student advisory boards and involved parent groups
  • Even Washburn Rural’s latest comment was from 2013 and they scored a 7


Community Pride/Recruit Topeka & Shawnee County First 5.13.16

Discussing: Carrie Lavery, Rick Nesbitt, Jami Nichols, Melissa Masoner, Barbara Stapelton, Brittany JoRae', Entyse Rasch Zuniga, Del-Metrius Miller, Keri Renner, Zach Ahrens, Veronica Diaz, Michaela Saunders, Brendan Jensen, Josh Sturm, Susan Fowler-Hentzler, Rachel Meyer, Jeremy Hall, Shelly Buhler, Harry Craig, Gabriel O'Shea, Sean Frost, Rosemary Dahlgren, Michelle Stubblefield, TJ Brown

Observations from Listening Tour

Organizations interviewed:

· Advisor’s Excel

· Alorica

· Berkshire Hathaway Realtors

· Blue Cross Blue Shield

· Creative Business Solutions

· Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc.

· Home Depot Distribution Center

· Keller Williams Realtors


· RE/MAX Realtors

· Realty Professionals

· Shawnee Heights USD 450

· Scott HR Services

· Sunflower Association of REALTORS®, Inc.

· Topeka Public Schools Recruiters

· Washburn University Admissions Representatives

· Washburn University Career Services

· Westar


· Safety/Crime is the number one reason relocating employees and parents with potential WU students are hesitant about Topeka

o In all cases this was redirected to our media/PR issues more than actual crime

· Recruiters would like links and materials to share with candidates during interview process

· Recruiters don’t feel they have resources sharing the most attractive parts of Topeka especially a website

o Stats show 80% of individuals and companies seek information for possible relocation from relevant websites – it is suggested to build online communities and demonstrate value with digital (Atlas Advertising)

· Recruiters rely heavily on the realtors to connect relocating individuals to the community

· Realtors have found connecting to schools and setting up school tours with other involved parents has helped

· Realtors can fight and fight but if the boss tells the individual to move to Lawrence they usually do

· Most recruiters share concern about our negative local media

· Some recruiters utilize Helen Crow’s welcome packet

· Most recruiters know about and utilize the Chamber’s relocation guide

· Some recruiters do not use the Chamber’s newcomer packets or relocations guides due to costs

· Some recruiters expressed interest in someone doing a presentation for their new hires about the holistic community

· Fast Forward has begun framework for creating a boomerang program engaging high school students on into college and back to Topeka over breaks and upon graduation

· From Washburn University Career Services Perspective Fast Forward appears to be the ideal vehicle for promoting Topeka and engaging young professionals upon graduation. The same could be for Emporia State, K-State, KU, etc.

· There is a need for positive PR for 501 schools (potentially tapping into Zillow rankings)

· There are concerns from realtors about tax breaks for new businesses who then have half the workers living outside or the county

· Barbara brought up the workforce statistics of inflow and outflow of who actually works here and lives elsewhere. Matt Lara at GO Topeka shared these statistics for the year 2011.

· Out of the 101,785 people employed in Shawnee County in 2011, 37,799 (37.1%) were living outside the community and 63,986 (62.9%) lived and worked in the county.

· Out of the 81,536 living in Shawnee County in 2011, 17,550 (21.5%) were employed outside the county and 63,986 (78.5%) lived and worked in the county.

inflow and outflow workersinflow and outflow workers read of map


Analyzing Online Materials

Remember we are not critiquing Topeka we are critiquing Topeka’s ability to present itself. Please write down your group’s observations to the following…

1. Youtube (*Youtube is the second largest search engine after Google.)

Skimmed headlines for Chatnooga, TN, Cedar Rapids, IA; Sioux Falls, SD and Topeka, KS. Share your group’s observations?

Mostly personal websites not taking advantage of SEO/PPCIdeas were shared to have the middle schools and high schools get involved in flooding Youtube with positive videoso The students could do a project where they watch the videos then write or create an art project based on the videos (this would build up views.) Ideas were shared to creative a campaign to push views, comments, etc. with positive Youtube Topeka videos

2. Google

Skimmed headlines for Chatnooga, TN, Cedar Rapids, IA; Sioux Falls, SD and Topeka, KS. Share your group’s observations?

· More SEO and PPC

· Events, things to do…need to see people enjoying the community

3. Best Sites

Topeka’s best resources for newcomers.

A. GO Topeka’s promotion of Quality of Life:

· Excellent

B. Chamber’s Living in Topeka:

· Needs more visuals

· Good info and poor presentation

C. Visit Topeka’s About Topeka:

· Cluttered, dated, hard to navigate

· New website coming out this summer!

D. Sunflower Association of Realtors Quality of Life in Topeka:

· Too few options listed

Were you compelled to move to Topeka? Was the information unified? Was it easy to navigate or difficult? Would you suggest these websites to newcomers? Other observations…

· Messages not unified on all sites

· Not compelled to move here

· Not easy to navigate

· We need Marketing, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Education!

· Need direct link to newcomer websites

· Too much copy and not enough images and info specific to immediate reaction to what is going on in Topeka

· Not enticing at all for someone to move or stay here

· Heartland Visioning can provide an educational workshop on how to increase your online presence

· Add more emotional pictures

Analyzing Print Materials

How are we promoting ourselves? Please write down your group’s observations

Chamber Relocation Guide and Chamber newcomer packet, Visit Topeka’s Travel Guide, Parks + Rec promotional materials, Helen Crow’s Welcome to Topeka Packet (used by some recruiters)

· Relocation guides (just the booklet) are 25 cents apiece

· If someone calls or emails requesting a newcomer packet for themselves, they are free. If a business wants them to use as a recruiting tool, etc., they are $3 a piece if the business is a Chamber member. If they are not a Chamber member, they are $7 a piece. And if they want a larger quantity than 5 the chamber needs time to assemble them.

· Needs Niche Marketing…millennial out of college, family with kids, and retiree

· Liked Helen Crow’s postcard

· Needs unified voice

Reactions to report

  • We have identified the problems; so now how do we solve problems? How are the major players working to solve problems? Everyone has the same end goal but we are serving different clients.
  • What are the percentages of retained youth?
  • Work is being done to combat negative issues
  • what about a strategic targeted plan to positive issues
  • Create strategic plans and campaigns
  • Reaching out to schools for youtube presence
  • Redo Chamber welcome packet and then communicating that with HR’s!
  • Promote Top City Hash Tag
  • Create Zenfolio for community partners to share better photos of Topeka!
  • 2 Phases...1. Community pride then 2. Recruit Topeka
  • People online put negative comments
  • Not enough people promote and rebuttle negative comments
  • Parks + Rec partnering with NIA’s about positive perception
  • TCJ intervening with schools to hear about Topeka
  • Use a community pride logo in school newspapers
  • Find influences in different groups
  • Organic messages – not scripted
  • Hashtag campaign is key