I couldn’t bring myself to write this blog post straight away for one simple reason: I am absolutely gutted that Thomas has gone. Don’t get me wrong, his team deserved to lose and he made a fundamental mistake in this latest task. But, he was a genuinely likeable personality (very hard to find in the realms of reality TV shows these days). And I think that’s one of the crucial lessons we should all take away when it comes to PR for recruitment agencies: being authentic.
Recruitment PR: why authenticity is so valuable
I think we can all agree that Thomas was a relatable, genuine and likeable person – even Lord Sugar admitted he could see a bit of himself in the candidate and was quite clearly disappointed that he had to fire him. The simple fact is, he was himself and he generally stuck to what he knows best. And this is what works in the world of recruitment PR as well.
Focusing on your area of expertise rather than trying to be the expert voice on absolutely everything makes complete strategic sense. And, of course, it will deliver the right results. Does it really matter what your thoughts are on starting your own business if your target audience are employers and contractors in the life sciences field? Or, would it be more valuable to share your views on the impact the STEM skills shortage will have on the pharmaceutical field and how businesses can address this?
Being authentic in the public eye really works and it’s arguably a million times easier to maintain than a false persona. The fact that Thomas now has 33.7K followers on Twitter despite only making it half way through the process says it all really.
PR lessons for recruitment firms
If you’ve been reading my regular blogs, you’ll know that I’ve identified numerous PR lessons that recruiters can learn from the Apprentice, and once I’d recovered from the disappointment of seeing good old Tommy fired, outlining the crucial takeaway was pretty easy: Know your audience.
It’s been a common theme of this series and indeed the show in general. Too many times the candidates have failed to understand, and therefore be relatable to, their target audiences. On the losing team, the lack of connection with the musicians meant they didn’t get the song they needed and that would have 100% worked for their brief (though I have to admit, a song titled ‘I have to go’ being sold to a toilet roll company is PR gold!)
This same barrier to success can be noted with recruitment firms. It’s all too easy to assume you know your target audience, their drivers and what appeals to them. But sometimes being over confident without taking an objective view can be damaging to your success and your brand.
Let’s just take a metaphorical example. Agency A places software specialists into IT departments across an array of sector verticals. The CEO – who has a wealth of prior experience in placing software and tech developers, but has had little direct contact with new candidates in the last year – is the spokesperson. She still has regular contact with some of the individuals she’s worked with over the years, but all of them are now in much senior positions. As she supports the firm’s growth, the CEO is getting involved in journalist interviews, writing blogs and trying to generally raise her profile as a thought leader on the drivers of emerging software developers. But she’s getting nowhere. The simple reason for this is that while she’s got the knowledge that’s relevant to a more senior audience, she hasn’t had the hands on experience with emerging talent pools and is simply assuming that what drives these individuals is the same.
However, what she does have is a team of experts who have daily interactions with these candidates and truly know this audience. The CEO or spokesperson doesn’t need to know everything (after all, you can’t be an expert in all things), but they do need to really know the audience and listen to what others are telling them about this group.
Perhaps if Thomas had clocked the rather shocked reaction of the first artist when he offered a 50/50 split of fees and re-considered this tactic, he might be gracing our screens again next week.