Public Relations, or 'PR', for recruiters is all about the way you communicate with your target audience, promote yourself, and build a positive reputation.
When it comes to partnering with a PR firm, there are a number considerations to factor into decisions. However, quite often one of the questions we come across is whether a recruitment business should go for a generalist firm or a specialist agency. While there are benefits to both, for staffing companies in particular, having a niche expert on board can often provide the greatest return on investment.
Since being founded in February 2009 as a way for co-founder Jan Koum and his mum to stay in touch with their family back in Ukraine, WhatsApp has become the world’s most popular messaging app with two billion active users worldwide.
Hands up who watched the Apprentice last night and found themselves arguing with the TV? I know I did! Once again in typical Apprentice fashion we witnessed a team fail miserably in what should arguably have been a relatively simple task. And yet again, I have a crucial recruitment PR lesson to talk about.
Having been at BlueSky for close to a year now, and starting with next to no PR experience, I’ve definitely picked up a few things! So, here are some of the most valuable PR lessons I’ve learnt about pitching, one of the most important aspects of the job.
If there’s one PR issue that recruitment agency owners are arguably most concerned about it’s what to do in a crisis. Whether this be a breaking news story about some less than scrupulous actions from an employee or potentially detrimental information about your firm’s finances being leaked, implementing a damage limitation process at this time is crucial for businesses of all sizes. But it’s not an easy task. So how should you handle a PR crisis?
I’ve previously written on why public relations is an art, rather than a science. However, that doesn’t mean that PR skills training isn’t vital to the professional success of individual practitioners – and the media campaigns they develop and execute. The benefits of professional development As a consultancy which specialises in the recruitment and talent management sectors, we often work with our clients to share stories around the benefits of professional development. Research from Guidant Group, for example, recently found that almost half of businesses (47%) believe that developing staff internally will be their greatest opportunity over the next three years. The Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo), meanwhile, often shares insight into the impact that CPD has on boosting staff engagement, motivation and productivity.
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?”
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?
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Not many people outside of the industry know what PR actually involves. That means that fallacies and myths about PR are bandied around, often by advertising firms worrying about their ever decreasing market share. But what are the top 5 myths about PR? It’s all about the press release A quick search reveals that a worrying number of people think PR actually stands for press release, but it’s so much more than that. Yes, a release is an effective way of getting your brand name out there, but what if you want to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry? There are myriad options for firms to utilise when diving into the world of PR, the press release is just one of many including white papers, articles, surveys, polls, events and more.
When many think of PR, they instantly think ‘press release’. Well, yes they certainly do form part of the public relations mix, but there is so much more and companies need to be looking to get much more out of a press release and make the most of their PR activities. Is it newsworthy? First and foremost, if you are going to put the time and energy into writing a press release, it really must have a news angle. You might consider the fact that you have launched a new website or refurbished your office is fantastic news, but believe me journalists won’t! Think about what there is an appetite for and craft a release based on this. Your target audience is seeking advice and information on subjects that will help them in their day to day job. Think about what data you have access to – salary levels, skills in demand, pooling & pipelining and diversity - and use that to form a release about the market you operate in. This will have far more appeal and position you as an expert in your respective field. Once you have a good, crucially, newsworthy press release, here are my top tips on how you can get much more out of a press release:
I recently blogged on why PR professionals are unlikely to be replaced by robots in the near future. One of the reasons why is the human ability to craft copy to create impact at a time when content can no longer demand attention. Here are my seven top tips to sharpen your PR writing: Get to the point quickly Whether you’re drafting a pitch, press release or article, ensure that your intended message is clear from the outset, or you’ll swiftly lose your audience. Cover all bases PR professionals should always attempt to answer the ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘where’, ‘when’ and ‘why’ in the first sentence or paragraph of every piece they draft in the interest of brevity.
It’s the age-old struggle. In the left corner we have advertising, represented by Mad Men, while in the right we have PR, represented by Absolutely Fabulous. Obviously, in my eyes there’s one clear winner, however it’s probably fair to say that I’m ever so slightly biased. But what is more powerful, PR or advertising? Dated concept It would be unfair to say that advertising doesn’t have its place in the modern world, however to most commentators it’s seen as less effective than it once was in the past. If we rewound to even as recently as 20 years ago, advertising was still a powerful platform and was used to drive the consumer behaviour that organisations wanted. However, back then it was easier to convince buyers to do what you want and it would be fair to say that people were less savvy and, quite possibly, less cynical. Now in the modern, hardened, social media-led world it’s easy to see through often transparent campaigns, which can have damaging effects on firms.
PR absolutely can and absolutely should be measured. Know what your objectives are. You need to have something to measure against – and so you need context. Do you need more candidates or clients – and where? In a particular sector or geography. Do you need more people to work for you? Do you want to raise you profile as a thought leader? Don’t just share the same message across all channels, think about what you are looking to achieve and the best way to do this using each channel.
One of the major gripes that many people have with PR is that it has historically been seen as overly fluffy and often challenging to prove a direct return on investment. For the financial professionals amongst you, that’s probably the number one thing you look for when investing in a service and admittedly, it has been one of the industry’s biggest weaknesses. Historically, the field has been more about creating positive sentiment and raising brand awareness rather than proving direct and measureable financial return from your PR investment. So, how do you measure the success of PR?
The dialogue around robots coming for our jobs has been around for some time now. And as technology continues to advance, many professions have realised that this is the scary truth. However, despite the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reporting that 1.5 million people in England are at high risk of losing their jobs to automation - I’m confident to say that PR professionals won’t be replaced by robots.
BlueSky PR’s Tracey Barrett recently presented at the Recruitment Leaders Connect conference on “How to make money from PR,” followed by an afternoon of roundtables where we discussed the value of PR and content. So what did we discuss? Why aren’t more recruiters appearing in the press? Often the answer was that they hadn’t been asked and don’t know how to approach the press themselves. But pitching a journalist a story is no different than pitching a client a candidate – the worst they can say is no. However, one of the key things we discussed that that PR isn’t just about the press The press can be a good credibility tick because someone else is writing about you rather than writing about yourself – but everyone can become a publisher these days when we have access to blogging platforms and LinkedIn publisher. So if you’re an organisation that doesn’t have the comfort of a marketing person to represent you to the press on your behalf, you can start just by publishing some posts yourself. It can be as simple as using your LinkedIn publisher platform to start sharing your opinions to stir up some comment and controversy.
The Best PR Campaigns of 2016 Citizens advertising take-over service (CATS) A kick-starter campaign to get brands and agencies to think differently about the power of their influence. Why does this campaign deserve a place on the best PR campaigns of 2016 list? It’s visual. It’s creative. It’s unexpected. Get fit with Kwik Fit A new tyre based fitness program designed to engage female audiences with the brand.
Few people hold back from airing their opinions on current affairs in person. And let’s face it, 2016 and 2017 have been particularly easy years for making small talk. However, while I’m sure you will have shared your firm thoughts on Brexit, Trump or The Great British Bake Off to anyone within earshot, for the majority, this insight will never be broadcast more widely. However, publicly sharing your viewpoints on relevant news stories online can be a fast-track to building your personal brand and, by association, your company’s corporate identity. You can’t become a thought leader without saying what you think While the majority of business leaders now realise the value of social engagement, the content that many organisations produce is formulaic, dry and uninspiring. Perhaps they are just playing it safe, or lack the confidence to open up about their thoughts and feelings, but while liking and sharing the posts of others is a step in the right direction, there really is no substitute for real thought leadership. Don’t just share a story that is of interest to your networks – if it’s really relevant, the chances are they will already have consumed it from the source. Instead, use your own blog, or a third-party platform, to put some meat on the bones. Speak directly to your audience and use your expertise to outline what it means for them specifically. What if my opinion is controversial?
We all know that content is king and that everyone should have a content marketing plan – and that is very much part of a PR and communications strategy but I would argue that media also needs to be part of that strategy.
In an ever connected world it is all too easy to send a press release to a journalist or email them with an idea for an article. Indeed, I know from the many journalists I’ve built a rapport with that it is a common occurrence for internal marketing, communications and PR teams to fire across multiple emails in the hope of a quick hit. But I implore you, please think before you email that journalist! There are so many considerations you have to ask yourself; is this the right journalist? Is this the right story for the publication? Is this the best way to contact them? Is this the best day to contact them? And so on. But none of this can really be discovered without speaking to the individual – a frustrating catch 22 situation for anyone. And that’s where a good PR firm can add real value. The stereotype of a journalist as an extremely busy individual with short deadlines to meet, an overflowing inbox and an endless stream of nuisance calls is, I’m afraid to say, true. But a good PR agency has not only built a relationship with the right journalists, but also knows when to call. And as my experience at BlueSky PR has taught me, investing the time to build the relationship with these key individuals means that not only do they take our calls with proverbial open arms, but they also call us seeking expert comment and even article ideas.
With the New Year now upon us, one thing is clear, that the skills shortages experienced across a number of sectors over the last 12 months are likely to continue well into the coming year. Shortages across key economic sectors will undoubtedly continue to present significant opportunities for recruiters, but how can businesses differentiate themselves from their competitors to attract candidates and win assignments? In one of our recent think tanks, ‘The Challenge of Marketing in Today’s Recruitment Sector’, all of the delegates agreed that the nature of the profession means there is little opportunity to establish a truly unique, tangible USP. The recruitment process is one with minimal room for adaptation, so instead of focusing on promoting a unique selling point, recruitment professionals should be concentrating on establishing and promoting a ubiquitous brand message. Gaining press coverage in outlets such as national, regional, or industry specific publications, are all great ways to promote your brand. Providing comments for articles on current issues can also be a fantastic way of proving your expertise on a specific topic, especially in industry specific publications. This coverage could then subsequently be used in pitches to help you win further assignments.
The constant evolution of social media means the way in which we communicate with each other is changing at an accelerating pace. And while traditional media continues to maintain its standing in the industry landscape, sites such as Twitter and Facebook can now boast the advantages of being more up to date and considerably easier to access. Brand Communication As a result social media has become a key pillar of brand communication. On these sites content is often targeted at a specific audience and active engagement is facilitated by the ability to easily share and respond to posts. So in sharing an article you’re not just increasing its reach and making it readily available for your target audience – but also drawing upon the merits of both the social and traditional landscapes, providing your audience with material from dependable sources that can be easily accessed and shared. Brand Engagement The aim of most social media strategies is to encourage potential clients and candidates to engage with the brand, so really the objective should be to direct to users to content on your own website. Posting links to coverage to a news feed on your website and placing them alongside industry specific resources is great way to position yourself as a thought leader.
Some say the press release is dying. Judging by the amount of awful examples peddled to journalists and editors daily many would argue that it’s not dying quickly enough.
As recruiters you have undoubtedly all utilised social media tools to help build and engage with your current and potential client and candidate communities - but how many of you have thought of it as a key element of your reputation management? Let’s take the example of a disgruntled or extremely happy client – if they communicate their experience to others over a coffee then the spread of that message will be quite slow. But with social media those messages can be amplified on an exponential level. If you doing nothing else with social media you should at least be using it to listen because as well as being an amplifier, it is also an enabler. If you can hear what those people are saying about you over their coffee – then you can do something about it!
As, Os and Bs are disappearing from our Twitter names, street signs and most recognisable brands to encourage more people to donate blood. As National Blood Week starts, NHS Blood and Transplant have launched an impressive PR campaign that centres on the hashtag #MissingType. In an effort to replace more than 200,000 donors who cannot give blood any more, the health service have prompted removing the letters that make up the blood groups. The likes of book retailer Waterstones, chocolate company Green & Black’s and cinema chain Odeon have all dropped their As, Os and Bs in support. Do you have the #MissingType? Help us fill the gaps and save http://t.co/KSdAvL2y7p@GiveBloodNHSpic.twitter.com/2rUaRSVa0q — GREEN & _L_CK'S (@greenandblacks) June 8, 2015 National newspaper The Daily Mirror – which changed the masthead for the first time – as well as instant snack brand Pot Noodle and bank Santander have also joined in, calling for the 204,000 new donors needed to keep the UK’s blood stocks at a safe level. Even the Downing Street sign has lost the ‘o’.
As most of you will know, I recently presented at the Recruitment Agency Expo in Birmingham. It was here that I was asked a question many recruiters want to know the answer to: how do I effectively engage with a journalist? For us here at BlueSky PR, we deal with journalists on such a regular basis that it is second nature, but what can you do if you’ve never spoken to one before? Here are a few tips to consider:
The top five PR and marketing tips your recruitment business shouldn’t ignore Whilst the recession certainly reduced the size of the UK staffing sector, today’s market is crowded and full of agencies vying to compete with and overtake their competition. Despite this, however, too few look at PR and marketing as a tool to not only differentiate themselves from their competitors, but to also position themselves as the ‘go to agency’ for clients seeking staff and for candidates looking for their next role. There is perhaps a tendency to view marketing and PR as a time consuming and often costly exercise they can do without. Wrong. If done effectively, it can help a staffing company reach its objectives and facilitate growth. Here are my top five tips: Create original, engaging content Perhaps an obvious statement, but any material you create – whether this is a newsletter, mailer, brochure, or media article – needs to not only be compelling, but it also needs to grab the reader’s attention. Like me, most of you will be inundated with content from third parties and, if they fail to draw me in, they not only don’t get read but the brand in question doesn’t strike me as an authoritative voice in their market. Your content needs to be engaging and offer the audience added value. Target your content correctly
“© Depositphotos.com/yurizap” I remembered reading an article published more than 100 years ago which summarised different views of the future – the one we are living now. I must say that most of those predictions were spot on! People living more than a century ago expected technological advancements but the way things were going back then it was not too hard to predict that after Thomas Edison had invented the first viable light bulb in 1880, the product will only improve. So now, out of a desire to be a step ahead of the game and also test our ability to predict the market, we’ve been asking ourselves how the PR industry will look in a decade. I personally believe that in the next 10 years less developed economies will catch up on the PR concept and start using it accordingly. Probably not much will change in PR in the Western economies (at least not dramatically), but once countries like the BRICS nations begin to appreciate the benefits of PR like we do, we will be witnessing a true internationalisation of the industry. Ian Hawkings ‘’ As the news industry continues to evolve from physical to online, from paid for to free and from in-house to freelance staff, press relations will increasingly be about building relationships with disparate individuals and building them across time zones. Companies, large and small, will only be more interested in winning top-quality press coverage globally to promote themselves in new and growing markets. This will mean PR’s that can appreciate and adapt to different cultural norms, whilst simultaneously maintaining a focus on their clients’ goals, will prosper -whilst those that can’t (or won’t) adapt, will die.’’ Tracey Barrett ‘’ PR will become more about content – already it is not enough just to be read, the objective should be for your content to be shared so when thinking about your PR strategies invest time in your content before investing money in SEO!’’
Antal International is a global executive recruitment organisation with 110+ offices in more than 35 countries. We caught up with Chairman and Founder Tony Goodwin to see how they use PR to achieve their recruitment goals. Why do we use PR? “In the B2B market it’s vital to place yourself as a thought leader in your industry. A good reputation comes through well considered and thought out views on the marketplace which is exactly what PR gives us. Advertising can often fail to hit the mark, I think it was advertising guru, David Ogilvy who said “50% of advertising is wasted; we just don’t know which 50%”. With PR this doesn’t happen. We know we’re hitting our target audience every time and providing them with meaningful content. Recruitment is an industry based on taking the initiative and sharing opinions and PR allows us to do this.” How do you measure ROI? “It takes a longer term strategy to effectively weigh the value of PR. But we’ve found that the continuity and consistency of our message pays back, which can only help in strengthening our brand. There’s no instant return like a betting company would expect to see from their half time advertising at football matches. But the overall value is much greater. I’m confident that over the course of two years we’ve seen up to a twenty-fold return on our investment. People are influenced by people and by positioning individual figureheads in the public eye we’ve created a voice that the company can base its message around. The results might not be immediate, but PR is a slow-burner and in the long term can do so much more for our business than advertising ever could.”
Could there be a worse time for a London Newspaper to get it wrong? The 21st March saw the arrival of the much-anticipated Budget for 2013 – though some managed to see it sooner than intended, as shortly before the Chancellor’s speech was due, the details were revealed on Twitter by the London Evening Standard. The paper had been given details of the Budget’s main themes prior to the speech under a press embargo until later that afternoon. The embargo was still in place when the Standard tweeted a picture of its front page to its followers – a front page full of Budget information. This was unfortunate for all involved, including George Osborne who was faced with the opposition party mockingly waving copies of the front page at him from the benches. Though a swift apology from the editor of the paper was made, and the offending tweet was removed, the damage had already been done. The journalist responsible was suspended, and the newspaper is now rumoured to be denied future access to the exclusive briefings given in advance of both the Budget and the Autumn Statement. For the London Evening Standard, this is a particularly big loss as, being London’s evening newspaper, it was often the first to distribute the news of such events. We often hear about the responsibility those working in PR have to the journalists they communicate with, and the need to be honest and trustworthy, but what about the responsibility the press has towards its sources of information? The Standard’s situation clearly demonstrates how important it is for a journalist to uphold their end of the deal when it comes to handling sensitive information.
Why do we use PR? We are a very busy trade association and consequently have a lot of interesting things that we feel we need to communicate out to the wider world. APSCo is also a brand that our members are proud to be associated with and so it is important that we are seen to be participating in, and in many cases leading, the conversations around issues affecting the professional recruitment sector. That on-going recognition of our brand is important to us – and important to our members. How do you measure ROI? Obviously we look at the number of relevant pieces of coverage we get in support of our various campaigns but also we look at the penetration of our brand within the different vertical sectors within which we operate. We are lucky in so far as we have a large number of member events and so will often get instant feedback from members who have seen our press coverage and comment on it – that in itself is a good measure of the success of our PR campaigns.