Branding/Marketing/PR Thought Leadership

Does PR actually generate ROI for recruitment agencies?

Written by the Editorial Team

by Paul MacKenzie-Cummins, Editor and managing director at Clearly PR


It is the question that all potential new clients ask us and the response we give tends to take many of them by surprise. Yet PR really does positively impact on the bottom line of the business…and in a big way.

Most of you will have done some form of marketing, whether it is local press advertising, sponsoring events or posting your jobs on the ever-increasing number of job boards that are out there.

Many of you will have done the maths to see that for every £1 you spend on marketing you will generate £x in return. That’s what marketing does for you – it delivers an almost-immediate return that is easily quantifiable.

PR, however, is not immediate but the return is generally higher than what you get from marketing. Let me show you.

12 months ago we started working with a recruitment firm and the first press release we sent out appeared in a couple of trade publications and the business pages of their local newspaper.

A partner of one of the region’s biggest firms within their sector saw the story but didn’t have a need for a recruiter at that time. Four weeks later a position came up at that firm and the partner remembered reading about our client because they have a USP no other recruiter in the region has, so he contacted them.

Our client earned £30k in commission on the back of that placement.

Back in the summer, another client had a similar experience. We produced a thought leadership article for the trade press, which talked about a key challenge facing many business leaders within that sector.

Our client had already met with the prospect and was shortlisted as one of the recruiters in contention for the assignment. When our client met with the prospect for the second time to pitch for the opportunity to be one of the two recruiters that company wanted to work with, the prospect mentioned seeing our clients’ article in the trade press that week. And they liked it.

Not only did that cement the deal for our client, it also swayed their prospect to opt to appoint just one recruiter to manage the assignment. Our client earned £35k in commissions off that one prospect.

A cyber security recruitment client of ours wanted to raise their profile and get in front of as many of the right people, in the right way and at the right time. We produced a series of LinkedIn Pulse articles and amended one of the articles into a press release.

The press release appeared in the likes of the FT and The Guardian among others, and a senior associate at a finance company based in The City spotted it, contacted our client and made a successful placement with them.

Our client earned £18k in commission on the back of that one placement which all came from a single press release.

Another client, operating across multiple sectors, wanted to better engage with their client base. We created a series of newsletters that contained a mix of original and aggregated content that aimed to position our client as being at the forefront of their sector.

For the first four or five months the newsletters were little more than a brand-building exercise. By month six the client began to see some traction.

In month seven they made their first sale on the back of the newsletter and from months eight and nine they were averaging two successful placements each month as a direct result of the newsletters we were sending for them.

The average salary they worked was £30,000 with a commission of 15%, meaning they generated £4,500 per placement – £9,000 per month.

So while it took a few months before their newsletters began to generate an ROI, by the end of the 12-month campaign they billed just under £50,000 in new revenues.

By continuing that for a further 12 months, the client earned £158,000 from their newsletters. How much of a positive difference would that make to your agency?

It works for us, too.

In January we released the results of research we undertook into the size of the UK recruitment industry. The day that the press release appeared in Recruiter, we were contacted by a potential new client.

Within three days we converted that prospect into a 12-month contract.

And only a few weeks ago, I was one of the speakers at The Recruitment Agency Expo held at Olympia in London. I presented on the subject of how recruitment firms can build their agency brand through PR and within a week we were contacted by five recruitment firms who were in the audience that day.

One of those firms has already converted into a great new client and the others we are still talking to. That event was a great PR opportunity for us and it generated an ROI that more than covered our time out of the office!

The fact is this: PR pays.

We don’t advertise, we only do PR and we continue to grow our business. In fact, we are the fastest growing PR agency in the UK that specialises in the recruitment sector and we’re growing because we practice what we preach.

All the clients we work with are generating new business from the PR we do for them, so whatever they pay us each month the return they generate covers that outlay many many times over.

So anyone who tells you that they have “tried doing PR but it didn’t work”, is either lying or they may have sent out one press release in their lives and didn’t get any response so they deem PR to be a failure. Or they used a PR agency that was quite simply utterly crap.

At a time when the number of new recruitment agencies entering your space is at a record high, I don’t care what sector you operate or how great you think you are, you WILL get left behind by your competition if you don’t take your PR seriously.

Marketing will boost your sales in the short term, but it won’t prepare you for long-term growth. Besides, if the clients we mentioned above are making that much money from their PR, it makes business sense that you do the same.

Or are you really prepared to leave all that money on the table? Good luck explaining that to your accountant!