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PR: The star of the marketing tool box for BPS World

by Natalie Spearing, Marketing Director, BPS World

natalie-spearing-bps-worldThe recruitment industry is a highly competitive one (I probably don’t need to tell you that!). Our target customers are looking for partnership; someone to help them attract, recruit and retain the best and brightest. Candidates want someone to find them their ‘perfect’ job as quickly as possible and advise them on their career choices.

Arguably, this is what every agency is looking to achieve – so how do you make your recruitment business stand out from the competition? How do you ensure that both employers and candidates understand the value you bring to the recruitment process?

BPS World have tried and been successful in using most marketing tools; but the one I argue most vociferously for at our board meeting every year, is PR.

Over the last four years, the results delivered with the support of our agency Onyx Media and Communications, have persuaded the Board of the wisdom of this approach.

Before you engage in any marketing activity, you first need to understand who you’re targeting and what influences them to come to you. One of the key measures of success is the impact on relevant traffic coming to your website and how much that increase costs you.

However, if you want your clients and candidates to understand the value of your services before they use them, reputation enhancement will be as important as immediate conversion. You should then consider how the different marketing tools would work for you.

  • SEO (search engine optimisation) and PPC – To achieve a top of the page ranking in relevant words through PPC, in a marketplace as competitive as recruitment, is expensive. Google are continually changing the rules so that businesses that don’t pay for PPC will now only score highly if other sites, with authority rankings, are talking about them or refer to them. This is because they want the searches to turn up more genuine results. Getting others to refer to you on relevant and authoritative sites is best achieved through PR, particularly if you work to ensure that key words are included in articles.
  • Social media – BPS World were recently ranked number 19 in LinkedIn’s Top 25 Most Socially Engaged Companies in the EMEA recruitment industry, out of 65,000 other companies, so it would be fair to say that we recognise the importance of social media. In practice this means that LinkedIn themselves have judged us to be one of the most effective users of the platform in the world. However our best performing posts are those that refer to articles featured on respected trade media. Which link are you most likely to click on: a promotional one that advertises the business, a personal blog or an article written by a respected journalist, in a respected publication? The statistics say the last, and of course placing that article is the job of PR.
  • Advertising (online or print) – This is great for controlling the message that goes out; but a sophisticated target audience, such as the one we have, are cynical. BPS World saying that BPS World is a GOOD company (which is what we’re doing when we’re advertising) is never as effective as getting someone else to say that BPS World is GOOD (which is PR). Which would you believe more? Advertising can also be very expensive.
  • Direct Mail – I’m sure you get flooded with sales e-mails every day, we all do. Which ones are you more likely to open? Those from companies you’ve heard of (even if you don’t remember where from) or from complete strangers? Once again PR is a great way of ensuring that your target customers have already heard about you.

I would argue that it is PR which makes you stand out from the crowd and gives you authority and credibility, plus a platform to showcase the brand values of your business.

If you want to be considered a thought leader, be seen to drive the agenda for the industry, or simply want people to have heard of you in a credible context, then PR is the vehicle for you.

I know that in the digital age we can all post our thoughts for all to view, but it remains true that being quoted on a credible media platform, by a journalist, impresses clients and candidates and enhances your reputation with them.

A shift in marketing methodology over the past few years has driven a need for the creation of compelling content as well as speed, agility and high levels of targeting to the desired audience.

PR can help us with each step of this journey, from directing content based on what journalists want through to amplification which cuts through the high level of noise in our industry!

Securing good, brand-enhancing PR is not easy. It takes time and it takes expertise. Journalists are flooded with businesses wanting to be quoted.

I’m told that one business journalist recently confessed to having three thousand un-opened e-mails in his inbox.

We’ve worked with Onyx Media and Communications now for four years and over that time they have worked hard to build a reputation with our target journalists, so that their approaches on our behalf are noticed; we cut through all that noise.

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Being quoted by the media as much as BPS World now is, means we have to have something to say, we have to be well briefed on innovations in the industry and we have to be able to say something new, and that means carrying out detailed authoritative research into key issues, which we then publish in the form of white papers.

Onyx’s team includes a journalist who still writes special reports for the national broadsheets, as well as researching and writing white papers with us. That way we know that the research will be robust and will interest the media.

PR is not something that can be ‘done’ to a business. It takes teamwork between the agency and the business, and I believe that this is one of the reasons we have achieved so much.

On our part that means being reliable and setting aside time to respond quickly to requests. It also means living our brand values. If you say something publicly, you have to make sure it’s true! But that in itself can be a good thing for a business.

A good piece of PR, particularly in the nationals, will have benefits beyond your expectations in terms of staff morale. We all want to work for a business that is held up as an exemplar of best practice.

BPS World works with Onyx Media and Communications.

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