A few weeks ago, I attended a recruitment business leaders event. Each attendee was the head of an agency that has been performing well over the last 12 months or more and is now looking to scale even further. Whenever I speak with people like this, the inevitable question always comes up – PR sounds great, but what exactly is it and how can it help recruitment and executive search firms?
These are very good and equally obvious questions to be asking. After all, most of us are familiar with traditional marketing tactics, such as advertising and direct mail. PR, or public relations, does exactly what it says on the proverbial tin – it’s all about the ‘relationship’ you have with your ‘public’ (i.e. target audience).
So, what does this mean in practice and what can you expect to get in terms of a return on your PR investment?
The first thing to understand is why you may need PR. There are over 40,000 recruitment businesses and search firms currently operating in the UK, which means that your clients have more choice than ever before. PR is what makes your prospects better understand why they should be doing business with you rather than you direct competitors and there are various tactics that you can use to ensure that this happens.
Blogging on your website
Having worked with almost 100 recruitment firms over the last 15 years, I have yet to meet any recruiter or search consultant who doesn’t claim to be an expert in each sector they operate. Yet few of them actually back this up with any kind of proof. This is where articulating your thoughts and ideas and sharing your knowledge and expertise in the form of a blog – article – can really help to stand you apart from your competition.
Take a look at the kind of posts your competitors are putting out on Twitter and LinkedIn. Are they simply advertising their current job roles and focusing on the me, me, me? Sharing content, such as the latest industry news or your insights into a particular challenge that your clients and candidate typically face, is what stands you apart as an agency that is knowledgeable, approachable and ultimately trustworthy – someone they will want to do business with.
Tell your story
We were appointed by a start-up recruitment agency who wanted publicity to celebrate their launch. The press releases we produced were picked up by both the trade press and the local media. A director at the region’s largest employer within the niche this agency operated in saw the story but didn’t have a hiring need there and then. But a month later, they did, they remembered our client and made three placements with them. Our client generated £60,000 in new billings on the back of this single piece of media coverage. Of course, not all press release will generate such a huge return so quickly. Rather, the returns you can expect do tend to come over time. So, be patient
Court the media
In January, a couple of the national newspapers were running articles on how to manage millennials. It’s been done some zillion times before, but upon speaking with the journalist writing these articles we were told that they were crying out for opinions and insights from recruitment firms who weren’t part of the big boy’s club, they wanted to hear from agency leaders who may have just a handful of staff. The point is this: when it comes to PR, size means diddly squat – it’s what you have to say that matters.
PR is hard. But if you understand your audience, know where and how they like to access information and can articulate your thoughts in a way that adds value to their day, you and your agency will rise about the increasingly crowded marketplace. And hey, if you need a steer in the right direction, then give us a call!