National freight carrier looks to earned media strategy to meet hiring goals

Client Goal: Secure media attention for Estes’ hiring needs in high-priority markets

In 2021 and 2022, amid the COVID-19 pandemic and some of the greatest supply chain challenges the United States has faced, Estes set an aggressive recruiting objective that included the hiring of 2,000 new drivers. Meeting this goal would not only help meet immediate demand to move goods and but also help remedy the already present driver shortage impacting the entire industry. 

During this time, newsrooms were inundated with pitches that bemoaned the hiring woes of employers who were feeling the aftershocks of “The Great Recession.” To tell the Estes story through earned media, the Hodges team needed to be creative and strategic with its media pitch strategy and positioning.


  • 39 broadcast stories in essential hiring markets, leading to an estimated value of local TV publicity of $204,990
  • Estes’ exceeded its goal of 2,000 new drivers

Why’d it work?

Hodges created a market-by-market strategy that focused on the regions where Estes had the greatest hiring needs. For added relevancy, our pitch tied in Estes’ role in the larger supply chain in order to make the connection to the larger supply-chain issue that much of the media was focused on, a topic that was particularly resonant  around the holidays., In addition, for each market, specific, local information was shared to help tell the story of what happens at an Estes terminal to keep freight moving – an extra hook that helped localize the story in each market. (A case in point: did you know that 19,000,000 pounds of freight moves through Estes in Indiana every day?)

Another way to increase media interest was to broaden the relevance of the recruiting efforts, which was not just on drivers but also on entry-level positions that a great many more people would be interested in. From there, the benefits of working for a family-owned, 91-year-old company were a natural segue and media frequently reported on the company’s positive reputation and competitive pay.

It was Hodges’ in-depth understanding of local media relations that helped a client achieve its hiring goals through  a successful earned media strategy.