Did you know that you can see the Facebook and Twitter ads your competitors in the recruitment industry are running?
In my short time at BlueSky, I’ve written a lot of blogs. This has meant a fair amount research on what makes a great post, and also reading some which aren’t very good at all! If my experience has taught me anything, by making sure you do these often overlooked things, you can take your blog to the next level. So, here's my list of 8 overlooked ingredients for a successful blog post: 1. Making a point This might seem obvious, but many blog articles have nothing to say. Well, they might have something to say, but they don’t have a point. When your blog has a solid hook, it gives readers a reference point to latch onto, making them more likely to share, comment, and engage. 2. Giving away knowledge Many bloggers and companies alike hold back their best knowledge in fear of giving away their ‘secrets’ for free. However, with the wealth of information available on the internet, your ‘secrets’ are probably not as valuable as you think, and this information will end up being put out elsewhere – by someone else. By giving out as much value as you can in your blogs, you’ll become more attractive to visitors.
Joining hundreds of PR professionals for a day of insight, debate and discussion, I recently attended the #CommsCon 2018 event hosted by Cision. Designed to inspire PR and comms strategies for the year ahead, attendees heard first hand from major brands and journalists, topics included: how roles in the industry have changed; what stories they want to hear from PRs; how to ensure your creating content with a purpose; and the best approach to crisis management. Below are the key takeaways from the event to help inspire your 2019 PR strategy. Purpose driven content … why does it matter? While most organisations recognise the value of creating content based on news, shared interests or worthy causes – to have content with a real purpose extends beyond that. As Peter Heneghan, Head of communication at LADbible said during the discussion, “We often get asked, what are the core ingredients to make something go viral – actually, the intention shouldn’t be to go viral but to make content an audience will love and relate to.”
“So, what is PR?” Sometimes I really dread this question when I go to networking events – it’s one of those things you know you’re going to be asked, but in many cases, my response is never quite believed. Whenever I explain what I do I’m challenged: “Well, that’s copywriting, isn’t it?”
The disparity between what a business thinks is an interesting PR story, and the information that actually grabs the attention of target publications, is often vast. However, by viewing potential press angles through the eyes of the audience, brands can uncover stories which won’t fail to make headlines. In reality, even the most niche publications are unlikely to have much interest in the fact that you have had an office refurbishment, refreshed your website or invested in a new coffee machine. That is, of course, unless you have a solid angle as to ‘why’ you have made those changes which you can lead on: for example, you have updated your jobs pages to be accessible to disabled candidates to increase applications from this underrepresented group. Otherwise, save those nuggets for building your employer brand though social media. Sitting on a wealth of information
Social media continues to transform the way in which recruitment agencies are able to reach their target audiences, source candidates and showcase their company culture.
We recently attended a roundtable hosted by The Recruitment Industry Disability Initiative (RIDI), which aims solely to break down the barriers facing disabled people in the workforce. On the day, attendees came together to discuss the hurdles disabled individuals face and how the recruitment industry must work together to truly make a difference. The main theme centred on how we can enable technology for disabled talent and the impact it is currently having. Attendees discussed the types of technologies available which are designed to help those with impairments and disabilities. Challenges voiced ranged from ways to alter the application process, how to change attitudes and the importance of reasonable adjustments. Currently 75% of disabled people believe their condition is a barrier to employment, while the Business Disability Forum has found that 71% of disabled people will click away from websites they struggle to use or access content on. With this in mind, it is crucial that recruitment firms take a fresh look at how accessible application processes are to disabled candidates if they are to tap into this valuable pool of talent.
While expertly executed PR programmes, based on carefully constructed plans, are the bedrock of any successful PR campaign, reactive PR and marketing activity can offer brands a fast-track route to getting their voices heard. And this technique was something that Counter Terrorism Policing UK demonstrated perfectly, when it capitalised on the popularity of BBC’s The Bodyguard: the most watched new British drama in more than a decade, with more than 10 million viewers tuning in to the first episode. Demonstrable ROI By creating a social campaign tagged to the hit show - which offered behind the scenes insight and directed viewers to learn more about working in the sector - the comms team successfully tapped into a ready-made audience to gain demonstrable ROI.
This is a guest blog by Olly Dunn, a final year Business & Management undergraduate at Nottingham Trent University. As I was scrolling through my LinkedIn feed the other day I came across a video showcasing a self-driving bulldozer that digs trenches based on job plans. As cool (and scary) as it is to see how far technology has developed, it got me thinking about to what extent robotics, and AI in particular, could replace the human worker, and whether the ‘human touch’ could ever be taken out of the recruitment process completely. AI, or machine learning and robotics are becoming an ever more integrated phenomenon in a multitude of sectors. Amazon is one example of a company ahead of the game, from its fully automated warehouses, to Alexa as your new personal assistant, to intelligent algorithms analysing your buying patterns for future purchase suggestions, the brand’s use of technology is everything AI was intended to be and is working wonders for the logistics giant.
There’s no doubt that recruitment agencies are sitting on a wealth of important information, even if not all of them realise the full value of it. While recruiters will certainly be drawing on their own knowledge and the data in their CRM to help them source, shortlist, interview and place candidates, agencies will also benefit from sharing their understanding of the hiring landscape more widely. At BlueSky PR, we know that a great way for a business to position itself as an industry expert is by highlighting its unique insights into candidate and client behaviour. Here are our top tips for making the most of the information that you have.
You may have heard about the bold move from global sports company Nike, selecting Colin Kaepernick, (ex-NFL player and US civil rights activist) as the new face of its global advertising campaign.
In this ‘always on’ digital age, social media has become incredibly important for recruitment agencies. However, one of the biggest challenges facing marketers is securing buy-in from senior management who sometimes fail to recognise the value that social media has to offer. Here are three tips for producing a successful business case to put forward to your firm’s executives. 1. Be Clear Before approaching senior management, you need to have a clear idea in mind of what exactly it is that you are seeking buy-in for and the reasons why. Are you looking to address a problem you have been experiencing, such as attracting new candidates or promoting an upcoming event? Or have you spotted a social media-related opportunity? And how much time or resources will be required to make it a success? Whilst this may seem obvious, these answers will help you to communicate your case clearly and succinctly.
Given the very nature of recruitment, losing a client to a competitor is a tough, but rather common situation, particularly as prices become increasingly competitive. However, all is not lost. Rather than bemoan the fact that the client has moved on (even if you know they are prioritising money over quality), why not take a more strategic approach? You’ll likely have plenty of other highly engaged clients who value your agency – use them to your advantage to not only win clients back, but engage with new ones as well. Produce case studies of the results you’ve delivered to these businesses, focusing your attention on how only your agency could achieve this. If you’ve recently lost accounts to lower priced competitors, place an emphasis on the return on investment your clients have noted – including the added value that they received from using your agency over others. And, perhaps more importantly, share this content far and wide. Get people liking and talking about the case studies across your networks. Consider the hashtags you’re using as well. Look back at posts from your previous clients’ accounts and use any relevant ones to ensure they see the content you’re sharing.
As all business owners know, your reputation is something which is carefully built and you want to avoid damaging that at all costs. However, there’s a recent cautionary tale for recruiters everywhere, which involves the boss of a Sydney-based agency causing his company to go viral on social media for all the wrong reasons. Marcus Wood, Director of Mars Recruiting, sent an angry internal all-staff email titled ‘Friday observation’ which was shared externally and quickly found its way online. Suits, sick days and sackings In the communication, the director lists a number of things which he says are “getting on my t*ts”, including “endless ping pong” during core hours and “not even bothering to put a suit on or pretending to look the part.” The catalogue of annoyances ends with him comparing their sick days to a film about a man dying of AIDS and a grumble that they are “a cost to the company and me personally.” He signs off with the threat that “if you don’t pick up your game massively you will see your sorry a**es fired and slung out the door in under 3 months.” An all-staff apology Wood later apologised to staff, saying that when he sent the email he was “not at my loquacious best,” and admitted that it was written “in a moment of seeing red and most definitely should not have happened.” He added, “It seems I am becoming an online sensation for how NOT to communicate.”
As partners of The Recruitment Network (TRN) we recently attended a Directors Briefing event where industry representatives came together to discuss the biggest hurdles firms face today in attracting talent. The main themes focused around sourcing new skills to pipeline future growth and where agencies are going wrong when there is the opportunity to get it right.
Positioning your brand as a thought leader in its field through PR takes not only a superior understanding of the market, but also time and dedication. However, while there is no shortcut to building a solid media profile, generating data through surveying your networks can supercharge a press release by boosting both newsworthiness and the potential to repurpose. Flick through any national newspaper, or scroll through any major newsfeed, and you’ll find that a significant number use statistics as a hook. Thanks to the power of polls, we know that Magnums are the UK’s favourite ice cream, England’s progress in the World Cup increased national pride and two thirds of voters are baffled by Theresa May’s Brexit policy. None of these stories are particularly surprising – but you can guarantee they wouldn’t have made headlines without the figures to back them up.
It has been almost two years since Instagram transformed its feed by introducing an algorithm and for the first time it has revealed the ranking factors behind it which influence what users see on the platform. So how exactly does the algorithm work? And how can you use these ranking factors to increase your recruitment firm’s engagement on Instagram? Instagram’s ranking criteria Instagram stated that it uses machine learning based on past behaviour to create a unique feed for each and every one of its 800 million users around the world. This means that if a group of users follow the exact same accounts as one another, they will still receive a personalised feed based on exactly how they interact with those accounts. For example, if two candidates – candidate A and candidate B – are following your recruitment agency and candidate A always engages with your firm’s posts but candidate B only interacts on occasion then it is likely that your posts will appear towards the top of candidate A’s feed but much further down in candidate B’s. This is due to three main factors:
If there’s one thing we can guarantee to be asked in PR it’s this: why should I outsource to you rather than manage it myself? While it’s completely understandable that business owners will feel reluctant to put their reputation in the hands of others, my argument is that they should. Yes, I’m sure many of you are thinking “well she would say that wouldn’t she” but let me explain why. Let the experts be the experts We each have our own job to do. For firms involved in the talent management arena, the focus of every member of staff will be winning new clients and growing their network. As a result, writing the next company blog or an article for a leading industry-specific publication will be at the bottom of their priority list – even if it is beneficial for business growth. And, of course, there’s the further issue of feeling comfortable approaching a journalist in the first place and finally putting the metaphorical pen to paper to write a feature for a publication. Given that editors and reporters move constantly, freelancers come and go and news platforms spring up continuously, knowing who to target with what information is a time-consuming practice. One that will certainly be put on the back burner by individuals with an already overloaded to-do list.
The concept of ‘word of mouth’ reviews has changed dramatically now that the internet is an integral part of our lives. Years ago, disgruntled clients and candidates would express their dissatisfaction by telling their friends and colleagues. Now, they tell the world via a frustrated tweet, withering Facebook comment or damning Glassdoor review. The speed at which these comments can be shared means that your business can suffer widespread reputational damage, which is why it is important to manage them with care. And, with a recent study of Millennials showing that they are used to looking at reviews before making decisions, it’s perhaps more important than ever. So, if an unhappy client or candidate has left your agency less-than-glowing feedback, what can you do?
As partners of The Recruitment Network (TRN) we recently attended the Women in Recruitment roundtable where industry representatives came together to discuss the biggest hurdles facing females in recruitment today. The main themes focused on why increasingly talented women are leaving roles early in their careers before they reach senior positions and the reasons behind this. Challenges voiced around the table ranged from the gender pay gap in recruitment, potential discrimination such as age, and the lack of role models in the industry. In particular, we looked at whether the culture of recruitment means that women either leave the industry altogether or don’t view it as a career of choice. With this in mind, here are some top strategies to get the ball rolling to encourage and empower more females in recruitment today: It starts with surveys Getting back to the root cause is key. For organisations to master retention and engagement, surveys of all female employees are a great way to identify the top factors that make them want to stay with the company and let’s employers know what to delve deeper into. Focusing on bite sized chunks and information gathering is the first step towards progress.
Is your recruitment firm struggling to get candidates and clients interested in your content? If the answer is ‘yes’ you could be committing one (or more) of the cardinal sins of content production. So what are the top reasons your content isn’t hitting the mark? And, crucially, what can you do to fix it? You’re selling This is a big bug bear of mine, and something that far too many companies do. They use their content – whether that be a blog, newsletter or white paper - to sell their services instead of demonstrating their expertise. Potential candidates and clients want to know that you are experts in your field, an agency that can help with their career or talent attraction strategies. Leave the selling to advertorials or a pitch meeting when you have got your foot in the door! You’re not adding value In the same vein, too much content doesn’t address the pain points of the intended audience. When planning content themes, it’s absolutely vital that they are based on the information your audience seeks. Think about conversations you have had with clients and candidates, what’s keeping them awake at night? What recruitment struggles are they currently facing? What advice can you give a candidate about their job hunt? The list is endless. However, the key is that your content encourages them to read on because it will add value to their current situation.
When selecting a PR agency – as with choosing any supplier – you want to know you’re not only working with the best-of-the-best, but also getting value for money. So, what should you be looking for when choosing a partner? Here are just a few of the key attributes to consider: Connections, connections, connections Find out which publications they have close relationships with. Note, however, that for any PR agency their contacts are their professional collateral, so they won’t cough up a list of names and emails or phone numbers. Instead, ask them to demonstrate which outlets they work with on a regular basis and find out how they would go about reaching any other target publications you have on your radar. Team Knowledge Get to know who’s in the team, what they specialise in and what their involvement would be with your account. You don’t want to be meeting with a senior person and building a rapport with them, only to be passed over to a junior member of the team you know nothing about once you’ve signed on the dotted line. Our clients have access to the knowledge and experience of the whole team, with a dedicated group of day-to-day contacts being included in discussions from day one.
“Should we be outsourcing our social media?” That is a topic many recruitment agencies are currently having internal discussions on around the country.
When pub chain JD Wetherspoon recently announced its decision to shut down all of its social media channels – including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram – with immediate effect, it raised eyebrows, not least from those who understand how a presence on those platforms can add value to a business, if they are used strategically. Chairman Tim Martin said, in a now deleted tweet, “We are going against conventional wisdom that these platforms are a vital component of a successful business,” adding that the managers of its 900 pub branches agreed with him. He later told a journalist that, "On a commercial basis, it saves people in the company time and that will enable them to get on with their own jobs." Devise a social media strategy There are a few puzzling things about this decision. Firstly, Wetherspoons had more than 44,000 Twitter followers and more than 100,000 followers on Facebook. Clearly, there was an interest from customers in having social media engagement with the brand. However, interactions on these platforms were very moderate, with many posts receiving only a handful of likes. For a big company with so many followers, such a low level of engagement should have raised a red flag indicating that it hadn’t mastered the art of delivering relevant content to its followers which truly engaged them. The demand was there, but the social media strategy clearly wasn’t. Businesses need to have a clear idea of who they are targeting, what they want to say and how best to convey that message. If The Museum of English Rural Life can achieve nearly 107,000 likes (and counting) with its perfectly judged tweet about a ram, then Wetherspoons really needed to be thinking more creatively and aiming for far higher levels of engagement, adjusting the strategy if it wasn’t appearing to work.
We know all too well; the same generic type of careers pages can sometimes fail to engage and attract the best individuals which can result in top-talent going amiss. For many businesses and marketing teams there is the challenge of being tasked to regularly provide informative, creative and attention-grabbing PR campaigns. And while this will often be tailored to certain objectives or showcasing new products which can affect how the campaign is executed – there are still key strategies to bear in mind. Recently we have seen things going awry with big brands under fire for their somewhat suggestive adverts. For example, Heineken being called out for its low-calorie beer advert labelled as “terribly racist” and the question is…could we be seeing a new trend of businesses deliberately choosing to cause uproar and conflict in order to raise their profile in the media and create a stir around their PR campaigns?
Entering corporate awards can be a great way to gain exposure, enhance brand perception and validate your market position. However, for each category, there can be only one winner – here’s how you can stand out from the crowd and earn your status as an ‘award winning’ organisation. Choose wisely To be in with a chance of taking home a trophy, you’ll have to invest a hefty chunk of time and resources into collating the information needed. For this reason, taking the decision to enter awards shouldn’t be taken lightly – it has to be worth the effort. Do some research to determine which awards have kudos in your industry and are recognised by your customers – whether that be The Sunday Times’ ‘100 Best Companies to Work For’ or the Concrete Society's Awards for Excellence. For example, we’ve recently been shortlisted for the Recruitment International Supplier Awards in the category of Best Marketing & PR – a hyper-niche category from a brand that our clients are familiar with and trust.
Is your recruitment firm struggling to get noticed on Twitter? With engagement a major ranking factor in the platform’s algorithm, it is essential that marketers understand how they can maximise this to help meet their objectives. Here are five simple tactics that you can implement into your social media strategy to increase your engagement and visibility on Twitter: 1. Re-use and repurpose your top posts With studies showing that the average lifespan of a tweet lasts between 18-24 minutes, it is important to re-use and repurpose tweets which have received high levels of engagement. This helps maximise the overall reach and, of course, shows that you are posting content that resonates with your audience.
Jumping on the latest news can be one of the most effective ways to generate content for your recruitment agency. Not only does it show that you are ‘on the ball’ and efficient but also dedicated to the client and their reputation. But in a digital 24/7 world, you have to act fast amongst the rest. Recognising the appetite for pressing subjects and topical events such as International Women’s Day and National Apprenticeship Week are great ways to keep you one step ahead and achieve prime time coverage. So here are some top tips to maintain a rapid smart-proof response to the hot topics and build your brand further with your target audience. 1. Plan your approach While this may seem obvious, monitoring the daily news agenda, spotting opportunities online and staying on top of current events is key to ensuring nothing gets missed. Being aware of important dates and times is also essential to be ready in advance for a related story that might get released last minute. Calendar events such as International Women’s Day are highly celebrated throughout the media and covering the story fast before anyone else is the beauty of preparation, at a time when the press you’re targeting might be looking for comment or writing on the story themselves.
As far as PR challenges go, a chicken shop running out of chicken is a pretty major deal. Which perhaps explains the furore which ensued when KFC was forced to close the majority of its 900 restaurants after bringing a new delivery partner on board. The fiasco was covered extensively across the UK mainstream media, with the most influential outlets from the Sun to the Financial Times offering real-time updates on the situation. Social media, meanwhile, went into overdrive, with fans of the chain demanding, among other things, that the government calls an emergency Cobra meeting over the shortage. Unsurprisingly, rival brands were only too quick to ride the wave of publicity. Burger King offered free food for a year to a customer who told ITV News she was forced to visit the burger joint after finding her favourite chicken shop closed, while Iceland took to giving away frozen chicken strips.
Most businesses will find themselves dealing with a difficult public relations event at some point and some may experience a full-blown crisis, such as data theft, cyber-crime or internal malpractice coming to light. In our digital age, news goes viral almost instantaneously, meaning that the implementation of a swift and effective crisis management strategy is essential. The wrong approach can irreversibly damage your brand and its relationship with clients and business partners. One example of a PR disaster is the one which Oxfam currently finds itself experiencing. PR Week says that, “As far as communications crises go, the latest Oxfam scandal has it all: public and media outcry, criticism from corporate partners, and serious questions from parliament and regulators.” Senior figures at the charity paid local prostitutes while on business in Haiti in 2011, which was reported on by The Times. The organisation has been heavily criticised because although it investigated the events at the time, it didn’t disclose them to a number of stakeholders and regulators.
This year’s Edelman Trust Barometer - which measures trust across a number of institutions, sectors and geographies – reveals that social media companies have lost the trust of the public. In fact only a quarter of the UK population now say that they trust social media as a source of news and information. However there has been a huge increase in trust in traditional media (61%), reaching levels not seen since 2012, as well as a rebound in trust in experts and leaders. So what does this all mean for recruitment marketers? Media coverage matters Well first and foremost, no one is saying that social media isn’t important – it is obviously a fantastic way to broadcast your message – however what is more crucial than ever given Edelman’s research is that the content and messages you are broadcasting have credibility. And how do you get that credibility? One way is through appearing in the press that your target audiences read, trust, and turn to for information. PR is just a cost Despite this, however, many recruitment marketers that are only too eager to get their company featured in the press are prevented from doing so effectively. And it boils down to the same argument we hear time and time again. PR is deemed a cost rather an investment, a vanity project, and something that doesn’t help the business development strategy and deliver leads. The result is that too many agencies shy away from traditional media relations, instead opting for advertorials or nothing at all. So at a time when Edelman’s research clearly demonstrates that media really does matter, how can marketers get press coverage and, crucially, demonstrate its ROI? Getting press coverage…and effectively leveraging it
In the early hours of Friday 12th January, Mark Zuckerberg announced changes to Facebook’s news feed algorithm that will have huge ramifications for every single company that uses the platform. “Recently we've gotten feedback from our community that public content -- posts from businesses, brands and media -- is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other,” Facebook’s co-founder wrote. To combat this, Facebook will be showing less content from businesses, brands and media whilst prioritising ‘meaningful interactions between people’ – in essence returning the platform to its original goal. So, what do these changes mean for marketers at recruitment firms? What we know about the news feed changes so far:
Last week was the annual Recruitment Agency Expo at London Olympia, where recruitment professionals gathered to hear from industry experts, network with peers and get all the latest info on the UK’s staffing sector. Among the many influential speakers stood BlueSky’s very own Managing Director, Tracey Barrett. So for those that missed out, here’s a roundup of Tracey’s presentation on Getting ROI from your PR. Firstly let’s start with the basics, why does PR and marketing really matter in recruitment and why should you bother? As Tracey discussed at the conference, it’s a crowded market out there. Last year alone saw 9,000 start-up agencies, so differentiation is key. Really ask yourself if your company has a USP or are you promoting the same generic selling points that clients and candidates are all too familiar with? An analogy Tracey used was to aim to be that purple cow in the field, and think about whether the value you are adding sets you apart. The value you add could be through market intelligence or thought leadership, but consider how you are going to communicate this.
Most firms understand the importance of having original content such as blogs, company news and professional insights on their websites. Firstly, if visitors to your site discover something useful or interesting, they are more likely to return. Secondly, it allows your firm to position itself as an authority and provider of relevant, engaging information. Finally, quality content gives you more material to share on social media, consequently creating wider exposure. This is also important as research shows that social shares influence where your website appears in search rankings. So, here are our top five tips for creating material with impact. Establish the audience and purpose Have a clear idea about who you are writing for before you begin. If it is for clients or candidates, what are their pain points and how will the piece address that? Then consider why you are writing it for them. For example, is it to inform them about an emerging issue, explain a complex matter or advise them on an aspect of their career? What will they learn that they didn’t know before? Enlist the help of others A good range of content often has input from more than one person. Involve your consultants as they will sit on lots of information and might have some great ideas about the issues which are affecting clients the most or other interesting topics which you could write about. You could even interview them about their roles and experiences. Also, ask others to comment on and proof read your pieces before uploading them: fresh eyes are always useful.
Make no mistake, getting any fledgling business off the ground is tough, regardless of the founder’s skills, experience and level of dedication. And despite the huge potential rewards associated with setting up your own company, it’s a sad fact that around half of new start-ups fail in the first five years. The recruitment sector is particularly competitive. According to Companies House data, over 9,000 recruitment consultancies set up shop in the UK during 2017. That’s an average of 818 new agencies being registered every single month. Each of these businesses will need to make important decisions around premises, the software and systems they invest in and the service providers they choose, while ensuring they’re compliant and ready and able to trade as quickly as possible. So it’s unsurprising that marketing and PR often drops off the end of the ‘to do’ list.
Social media dominated the marketing and communications landscape in 2017 - platforms rolled out a host of new features, the number of global social media users exceeded 3 billion for the first time and President Trump cemented his position as the world’s most famous tweeter by using the platform to create a number of international incidents.
New Year, new start and a new world of PR? In the ever changing society we live it can be hard to keep up. But let’s face it, scarily 2018 is fast approaching us and many are unsure of what the New Year might bring. Far from finite, it seems the pace of new innovation is rising at an alarming speed and if we aren’t careful, soon we may find ourselves wading through a haze of advanced technology and myriad of creative innovations for the New Year. But what about PR and marketing? Erring on the side of caution, these sectors like any other will be impacted in some way by the changes for 2018, of course we are looking forward to welcoming these in a positive respect but it can be difficult to narrow down just what the world is anticipating for the months to come. In order to prepare ahead for January and the following months I think it’s time we heard a few PR predictions from the experts (AKA the BlueSky team.) Social media Guru Dan Stobbs gave his thoughts on what to expect for the New Year.
So, we are almost in 2018. Depending on the year you’ve had, you may be sad to leave 2017 behind or, quite frankly, be glad to see the back of it. In the PR world, there are definitely some people wishing that they could go a step further and get in a time machine to restart 2017 from scratch. Here are five of the biggest PR fails of 2017.
In a world where the lines between advertising, marketing and PR are becoming increasingly blurred, it’s little wonder that some business leaders struggle to see where one function ends and another begins. Add in the role played by social media and it’s easy to see why there’s so much confusion.
Avoiding disaster, navigating networking, and pitching like a pro – what advice would our BlueSky team have for the world of the PR professional? “Don't cut corners on the quality of anything you write,” says Ian Hawkings, Head of our Education Practice. “Every note, email or tweet - both internal and external is a tool that can either help build, or destroy your brand.” It’s something simple that goes a long way, but keeping your writing to the highest standard can get other people to see things the way you’d like them to. Whether that’s proposing a new idea to a client, or getting a journalist to accept your pitch. And Peter Remon, Account Executive here at BlueSky, has some advice when it comes to pitching. “Research exactly which publications are interested in the news you wish to share and, more importantly, which journalists from these publications are writing about it. This does take time, but it is a worthwhile exercise. After all, it is far better to pitch to five relevant journalists than scatter your pitch to 50 journalists who are not.”
One of the most common dilemmas facing marketers when it comes to producing a social media strategy is deciding on the content mix. What should you be posting? How many job posts is too much? Should you be sharing third-party news? This is where the social media ‘rule of thirds’ comes in. It is a simple model used to ensure that your content is balanced and doesn’t lean too heavily in one direction – after all would you like it if your social media feeds were full of sales posts? By implementing the rule of thirds into your social media strategy you will be able to produce content that is relevant, timely and engaging for your audience. So what exactly are these thirds? And what content should you be posting on your social media channels? One third of your content promotes your agency and converts the audience If someone is following your agency on social media then the chances are they already have an interest in your services and as such you should be promoting these. However, don’t be too ‘salesy’ with these posts – ensure that the amount of promotional content is varied and not too pushy in tone. For example, rather than posting job vacancy after job vacancy, why not simply post a job of the day? Or produce a series of meet the team social media images which introduce your consultants to the wider social media audience? The latter is not only a much more subtle way of promoting your agency’s services but by including a fun fact or two it is more likely to be remembered by a potential client or candidate. One third shares curated content Many marketers can be sceptical about sharing third party content but by getting an understanding of what content your audience consumes and curating it, your recruitment agency’s social media can also become a ‘go to’ for the latest news and insights. To do this you should look at the sector and industry news sites of your audience and see what the biggest stories are that relate to their job roles and what trends could affect them in the future. Curating content also helps demonstrate your agency’s knowledge which can be a major differentiator for both potential clients and candidates.
I’m delighted to have been invited to contribute to The Recruitment Network’s new initiative #RecruitmentMeansDiversity which has been designed to shine a spotlight on how the recruitment sector attracts, retains and treats its talent. We are already working closely with The Recruitment Industry Disability Initiative to help to break down the barriers faced by the millions of disabled people who are entering or progressing through the job market and having recently received a highly commended award by ENEI for a diversity and inclusion campaign, it’s an issue close to my heart.
Journalist’s jobs are becoming more and more time-pressed, with their inboxes increasingly flooded with PR’s pitches. Now more than ever, for a journalist to buy into a pitch, it needs to capture their attention. But how as a PR can you make your pitch stand out from the crowd ? Make sure it's newsworthy Journalists are inundated with pitches daily, so ones that are boring, uninteresting, and un-newsworthy are destined to fail before they’ve even been sent. ‘The 5 best paints to watch dry’, for example, will never get coverage no matter how amazing your pitch is, or how slow a news week it has been. It is a PR’s responsibility to evaluate whether or not their story is newsworthy before pitching it. Deciding this beforehand stops you from wasting both yours and the journalist’s time, and avoids disappointment when your efforts inevitably fail to deliver results. Have a creative, engaging headline The first part of a pitch that a journalist will read is the headline, and many journalists will decide whether or not they will bother to read on purely based on how interesting that headline is. This is why it is important you pay as much attention to crafting an effective email header as you do to your pitch, as this will encourage the journalist to read more. Make it relevant
You’ve identified the ingredients for a perfect story, fired off a killer email pitch or picked up the phone and articulated your client’s experience, expertise and angle. The editor or journalist wants to cover the story Result! But where do you go from here? What are the essential steps when a reporter says 'yes'? Be clear on what the publication needs from you It may sound obvious, but be sure that your expectations are aligned. You may have thought that you were setting up an interview, while the commissioning editor had a 1,500 word, Harvard referenced, by-lined article in mind. Make sure you’re both on the same page.
Weinstein and the power of the media Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few weeks, you will have heard the Harvey Weinstein story. For obvious reasons, the scandal has been well covered by the media, however in the age of instant news, some people are already bored of it. In fact, I overheard someone in my local coffee shop opening a newspaper and sarcastically saying “oh look, more about Harvey Weinstein, it’s like there’s no other news”. I’m sure there are some PRs who are worried that this story will overshadow their current publicity campaign and others that are working tirelessly to shut down the story and defend Weinstein. Some publications are even using sexualised images of the victims to gain attention, which is not helping the perception of women as objects for male sexual use.
Whilst getting social media buy-in for your brand can be a challenging experience, one thing that is often much more difficult is persuading your CEO to create their own social media accounts. Common objections often include being too busy to post on social media, not being digitally savvy enough or not having anything interesting to say. And this attitude is reflected in research from America which has revealed that 60% of Fortune 500 CEOs have no public social media presence. So how can you get them on-board?
We’ve all been there. You turn on the TV or open the morning paper only to see a story which is centred around your business sector splashed everywhere. You knew this story was going to hit the headlines months ago – why aren’t you being interviewed along with the other experts? Here are our top tips for becoming an effective media spokesperson: Be visible Becoming a thought leader takes commitment. If a reporter or researcher is looking for insight on GP shortages in rural Essex, for example, the obvious place to begin their search is online. Make a habit of sharing snippets of your expertise and opinions on the news across social media, your own blog and third-party platforms to increase your visibility. We’ve had clients appear on Sky News after TV researchers stumbled across opinionated blog posts. Lay the foundations and the opportunities may just come to you. Be a specialist
Updates to social media platforms are becoming a far more regular occurrence these days, as the companies behind them roll out various tweaks and new features in an effort to increase the number of active users on their sites. And the last 18 months has already seen three major updates with Instagram emulating Snapchat’s Stories feature, Twitter changing its timeline and Facebook rolling out chatbots for Business Pages. However, it looks like we are about to experience the biggest social media change in years with the news that Twitter has begun trialling a new 280-character limit – double the existing number – with selected users from around the world. This according to Twitter is because users tweeting in languages such as Korean and Chinese are at an advantage over those tweeting in English, for example, as they can convey double the amount of information in one character. http://twitter.com/Twitter/status/912783930431905797
Last week I hosted a webinar with BlueSky’s resident social media guru, Dan Stobbs, on our top tips on how to use social media for brand building. And at a time when the number of global users now exceeds 3 billion, it’s perhaps more important than ever that agencies are using the correct platforms to engage with their target audiences. So here are our top five tips for how to use social media for brand building:
On average, employees have 10 times more followers than their company's social media accounts. We recently shared our 10 top tips for social media success. In the post we stressed that encouraging employees to post and share content about your organisation will increase your reach beyond your own channels, while simultaneously building potential leads and brand perception.