Recruitment marketers have faced a common challenge for a long time now: getting consultants on board with PR activity. We all recognise the frustration. Those in the profession know that the best and most impactful marketing and content strategies are ones that everyone in the company supports. Whether that’s through sharing press coverage and blogs, being active on social media or contributing to the content themselves, having recruiters involved in PR will be hugely valuable in driving up engagement levels.
But this has been a real challenge for many staffing companies for understandable reasons. Recruiters need to recruit. Their focus is on placing candidates. If they’re not doing this, they’re not making money, so tearing them away to write a blog or be involved in a feature for an industry magazine is difficult.
However, the simple fact is, PR and business development go hand in hand, and the two together are a perfect match for driving client conversion.
Converting leads: a PR recruitment success story
Before I go into the ‘how’s’ of aligning PR and business development strategies, let me first really highlight just how successful it can be for conversion. For those of you who haven’t already seen the case study on our website or heard me talking about this in presentations recently – where have you been! I’m kidding of course, but if you haven’t seen this case study, it’s definitely worth a read.
As an overview though, one of our clients used a press article in his sales communication with a number of contacts he’d been trying to engage with. By sharing the content (which I hasten to add, we secured and wrote on his behalf), the consultant who was named as the spokesperson of the feature was able to secure a number of new deals. These opportunities resulted in upwards of £100,000 in fees for the company. So, by looping the PR activity we were delivering for him into his business development communications, the recruiter was able to convert his contacts to revenue – and who doesn’t want that?
For those of you wondering how this worked for the individual and how it compares to just cold calling or emailing people, the answer is simple: he gave the reader something for free, i.e. his knowledge. And by sharing his insights with no expectation of something in return, he was able to convert leads into business opportunities.
So how can you replicate this success?
Getting PR and BD to work together in recruitment
While every business is different, there are common steps that recruitment marketers can take to really align PR with the sales activity of consultants:
- Build BD into any PR and marketing plans: An obvious first step, I know, but there really is no point just simply deciding that consultants involved in sales should also be involved in PR without a clear plan. Bringing recruiters into discussions when planning the topics, themes and messages in any PR activity isn’t just going to ensure that content is being developed to support new business. It also helps marketing teams get consultants on board with any activity. Afterall, very few of us like to be told what to do without being able to add our own thoughts into the mix.
- Loop consultants in on the benefits to them: Of course, if you want to get anyone involved in something that they perhaps don’t deem a key part of their role, you need to demonstrate what’s in it for them. If you’ve already developed your plans around the messaging and criteria that is key to the sales team, this will be a lot easier to achieve, but sometimes it needs to be spelt out clearly. Highlight the traffic that’s being driven to blogs (i.e. potential leads), the readership of a publication (aka new contacts) and the engagement that’s being achieved on social channels (or possible prospects) to those involved in business development. If a consultant has the numbers put in front of them that show they could increase awareness of their profile or grow their network by x%, they’ll soon become marketing’s biggest ally.
- Have a process in place to measure results: In order to track when PR has resulted in a conversion, it’s critical that the database your firm uses is set up and being used in a way that ensures this information is being recorded. Perhaps the most crucial element in this is the human one: making sure consultants are adding the right information. The case study I mention above only came to light because the recruiter was tracking and recording leads and conversions from the content he’d been sharing. If he hadn’t updated the database to clearly demonstrate that new business was being won through the PR support we’d provided, we wouldn’t have been able to put that incredible sum against our work.
- Showcase successes: Where consultants are seeing results from PR in their business development activity – shout about it. The more others on the sales team see their colleagues converting leads through effective use of content and media platforms, the more they will also want a piece of the pie. Remember as well that demonstrating the success to those responsible for your PR and marketing budget regularly will pay dividends longer term. Don’t wait until your scheduled review time to demonstrate the conversion rates that are being achieved as a result of the PR content that’s being used for business development.
- Keep communication going: This is a particular point that I’m keen to express as it’s something I’ve witnesses previously and it really is a shame when it happens as a lot of hard work ends up being wasted. Once consultants are on-board and getting involved in PR and marketing activity, keep a two-way dialogue going. It’s important that marketing teams aren’t missing out on key metrics because the sales team haven’t communicated that a particular lead stated that it was the content in an industry magazine or a blog post that pushed them to sign on the dotted line with the business.
PR and BD: the perfect combination for client conversion
I have absolutely no doubt that recruitment firms that align PR and business development strategies will see an impact on their conversion rates, if the right processes are in place anyway. For any recruitment marketing or PR teams still concerned that those holding the purse strings don’t see the connection between PR and business development in converting leads, show them this blog and send them my way, I’ll certainly fight your corner for you!