Client Spotlight: PMSMCA

Client Spotlight: PMSMCA

Amy Martens

PR Director

An estimated 92 million strong, the Millennial generation is the largest in U.S. history. As the first digital natives, they’re tech-savvy and socially connected. They’re also saddled with student loan debt — an average of approximately $21,000, according to the Federal Reserve.

Millennials are America’s next workforce, and the ideal targets for our clients within the construction industry. So, when Wisconsin’s Plumbing Mechanical Sheet Metal Contractors’ Alliance (PMSMCA) approached the Nehlsen team about working on a recruitment campaign to attract top talent for their apprenticeship programs, we excitedly took on the challenge of marketing to this unique generation.


The Plumbing and Mechanical Contractors Association (PMC) of Milwaukee and Southeastern Wisconsin, and the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors Association (SMACCA) support plumbing, mechanical, sheet metal and air conditioning contractors. Each organization provides a voice in legislative and government issues, while offering educational, training and networking opportunities to their members. To streamline the administrative duties of the two organizations, the PMSMCA was born.


Today’s construction industry faces an uphill battle in terms of engaging Millennials in the workforce. Surveys have found that the younger generation is not interested in the trades due to lack of knowledge about the trades, a desire to work with computers, a belief that the trades are not high-tech enough and they don’t think there is enough opportunity in the trades.

PMSMCA sought the expertise at Nehlsen Communications to assist in a state-wide apprentice recruitment campaign, with a particular focus on the Milwaukee area. The organization was looking for a comprehensive suite of marketing materials within a shared budget of two of the alliance’s unions. Its goal: to provide information to students, their parents and counselors on future careers in sheet metal and mechanical contracting, such as good pay and benefits with no student debt, and the ability to work in a fast-paced, high-tech environment.


Based on client meetings, our team brainstormed ideas that would appeal to Millennials while aligning with the overall goals of PMSMCA. We detailed a multi-phase proposal to the PMSMCA leadership team that included the following components:

  • Brand image creation and messaging — We recommended a campaign that featured striking colors and a handwritten title font meant to “speak” directly to a younger audience in a familiar way. The “Choose Bigger” tagline would help highlight the “bigger” salary, advancement opportunities and community involvement associated with the trades.
  • Microsite — PMSMCA would benefit from a dedicated online resource for recruitment. To reach the alliance’s target three-tier audience of students, parents and counselors, our team recommended a fully responsive site featuring a detailed section for each audience.
  • AdWords campaign – We recommended both a targeted campaign to the local Milwaukee area and a smaller statewide campaign to accommodate the jurisdictions of each participating Local union.
  • Print pieces — To stay within the budget, Nehlsen recommended translating the Choose Bigger message across two leave-behind brochures; one geared toward students and the other would cover both parents and school counselors. Each piece would contain the same facts about the benefits of a career in the trades, but each would be written with a tone and look that appealed to each specific audience.
  • Online video — Our audio/video team recommended one informative video to match the energizing tone of the Choose Bigger recruitment campaign. The video would feature examples of industry-specific work, program information and testimonials.

RESULTS — launched in June 2017 — is responsive across all mobile devices, offering an easy-to-navigate site. The black and yellow campaign palette is sophisticated and modern to appeal to each of PMSMCA’s three audiences, yet also seems to suggest an energy and positivity surrounding the trades. Since the launch of the microsite, PMSMCA has recognized it as an effective tool in its recruitment process.

Nehlsen continuously monitors the performance of the AdWords campaign, which launched on the Google Search Network in May. The campaign has driven a substantial amount of traffic to the alliance’s new recruitment website. In less than a month, the AdWords campaign resulted in 555 clicks and 22,109 impressions. AdWords and together have resulted in 23 leads for interested candidates.

The Choose Bigger branded brochures have also been a success. Demand for the first print order of 500 was higher than they expected, and the client has already requested a second printing for a larger quantity. The brochures were intended to be given out at the participating Local unions, as well as at area high schools and career fairs.

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