Category Archives: Creative

Creative. It’s good thinking.

Creative. It’s good thinking.

Cannes Lions, touted as the “Oscars” of the marketing industry, is a real showcase for the sort of work every agency would love to do.

Creative catwalk trends However, like a fashion-show, it touts the sort of work that – in the real world – not every business or charity would wear. A lack of budget is the most common complaint (or balls, some would say).

The reality is that clever ideas, and clever use of media, don’t need to cost the earth.

What’s needed, instead, is an understanding that unless an organisation embraces the type of creative solution that makes people think something different, they will never do anything different.

And that – in our view – is the essence of marketing.


From Cannes to the DMA Awards 2017 – a sense of social purpose

Notable in all the creative awards from 2017 was creative work eschewing the more obviously commercially minded work released over the year, in favour of campaigns or projects that showed social purpose or included a higher aim than ‘mere’ selling.

OK. If you’re an out and out fundraiser this work might seem esoteric at best, and wasteful at worst. But increasingly, agencies are keeping social issues in the public eye. And this can’t be a bad thing.

It’s not only at Cannes that a social conscience has won out.

The 2017 DMA Grand Prix went to The British Army’s “This is Belonging” campaign. The combination of impactful film, with beautifully crafted copy, brings this to life

A sense of belonging may sound like a small thing. Yet it fuels you as much as food and water, because it doesn’t just feed your body, it feeds your mind and soul.

The stronger the sense of belonging – the stronger you become.

Sure, you could look for belonging in a football team or club, but the sense of belonging you’ll find in the Army – well, that’s the next level.

The less cynical amongst marketing teams will appreciate that creative brains are trying to do ‘better’. And in each of the following instances, all winners at Cannes 2017, they do.

Public safety with a twist

First off the block is a film showing how the human race might evolve to survive car crashes. A familiar public safety brief with a twist: showing the ugly new breed of survivors.

Ad creative: Public safety campaign: evolution to allow humans to survive car crashes


Making it personal

In Finland a bank wanted to show the effect of every financial transaction you make.

A very poignant topic as the Baltic Sea around its shores is severely polluted.

The Finnish bank Ålandsbanken’s biologically degradable credit card not only lets users see the average carbon footprint of their consumption, it also gives them the option to make up for the footprint of their purchases.

“The sea is never far away when you are based in the Åland islands, and we can’t avoid seeing the effects of pollution. Only if we all get involved will we be able to save the Baltic Sea”, says Peter Wiklöf, CEO of Ålandsbanken.

With every transaction users make using the Baltic Sea Card, users can track how their consumption affects the environment and then have the opportunity to make up for their carbon footprint, and hopefully make different choices over the longer term.

Ad creative: Finnish Bank - How can the bank save the sea that couldn't breath


Picking up the Cannes 2017 design Grand Prix was clever use of space

A non-rectangular football field, created by property developers AP Thai for teenagers to play on in an over-populated area of Bangkok, won the coveted Cannes Grand Prix.

Ad creative: Non-rectangular football field so football can be played even when there isn't enough space

And even the film craft Grand Prix was awarded for a film that celebrates everyone’s abilities – Channel 4’s brilliant trailer for the Rio Paralympics in 2016.

Ad creative: Channel 4's Rio olympics advert

Ad creative: Channel 4's Rio olympics advert


One of the most awarded campaigns was “Fearless Girl”

This campaign has quite a back story.

The striking bronze statue placed on Wall Street by McCann New York to coincide with International Women’s Day.

It appeared with no warning on Wall Street in New York on March 7 2017 deliberately in juxtaposition with the iconic Charging Bull sculpture, itself a piece of guerilla art, placed within New York’s financial centre.

The Fearless Girl is shown squaring up to the bull, in a clear act of strength and defiance.

Unlike the bull, however, Fearless Girl began life as a marketing campaign.

Asset management company State Street Global Advisors created Fearless Girl to promote gender diversity on the boards of the companies they own on behalf of investors. They also wanted to promote one specific investment solution, SHE. SHE invests in companies where a significant majority of the leadership are women, at senior levels or on the board. Because, “organisations that have diverse leadership outperform organisations that don’t. That’s a proven fact”.

Ad creative: Fearless girl with iconic charging bull


And finally … Care Counts

In the project Care Counts, Whirlpool installed washers and dryers in schools to see how having clean clothes effects attendance rates. The insight was that kids from poor and homeless backgrounds with dirty clothes had lower self esteem and were more likely to stay away from school.

Ad creative: Care counts - clean clothes improve school attendance

Ad creative: Care counts -clean clothes improve school attendance

Ad creative: Care counts - clean clothes improve school attendance

The cynics might say that the banks, multinationals and governments are the very people can afford to do this sort of work. True.

But it also looks like a case not of just doing things better, but doing better things.

And whilst a self-congratulatory award show such as Cannes may not represent typical campaigns, or budgets, what it does achieve is to open our minds to new possibilities.

The client brief may not be to create an L-shaped football pitch, or a bronze statue. But as the interpretation of a brief, these experiences – and the potential they have to create a movement of their own – is aspirational.

Marketing for non-profits

Marketing for non-profits

 The rules of engagement have changed

Charity fundraising just got harder

The key challenge for charity marketing today lies in balancing the need stand out from the pack, whilst complying with ever more strict data protection and fundraising rules.


In recent years, members of the public have expressed frustration over the lack of control many feel over how, and how often, they are approached with fundraising requests. We’ve all heard the story of the Olive Cooke, the 92 year old who committed suicide because of charities pursuing her for money. Charity marketing is implicated, with organisations such as Amnesty International, Save the Children and the Alzheimer’s Society insisting that their actions were not to blame for Olive’s death. But many of her family have accused the charities of exploiting the poppy seller, with allegations that she was receiving over 260 begging letters a month


Managing charity marketing and communications

Whilst perhaps Olive Cooke presents an extreme example, the Fundraising Regulator is acutely aware of the need to manage the situation carefully. The regulator is guided by the principle that it should be as simple as possible for individuals to manage their communications with fundraisers, and to prevent this type of scenario. In response to concerns, the regulator has developed a system to ensure people can register their contact preferences more easily with charities.

With the creation of the Fundraising Preference Service or FPS (planned launch in 2017), people will have the ability to opt out – and this will affect not just the general public, but also those people that have actively engaged your charity’s fundraising campaigns, but perhaps not opted in.

For those that already have a highly engaged supporter database, this is unlikely to prove a significant problem. Yet for those who rely on email and direct marketing to purchase databases and lukewarm data, there is a need to tighten up significantly on the way they market to their supporters.

Why charity messaging matters

We recently met up with Gillian McKay, Head of Charity and Voluntary Sector at the ICAEW (Institute Of Chartered Accountants In England And Wales), who had this to say:

“It’s never been more important that charities stand out with a message that will really engage supporters. These new rules that are coming in within the sector will have most impact on those that have not invested in, or understood, the rules of engagement. Charity marketing will only get harder“


Changes to the rules on data handling

Data protection rules are tightening up across the board, and charities are not the only sector under the spotlight. If we had chosen to remain in the European Union, brands and charities alike would now have less than two years to make sure they are compliant with the new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which was due to come into place in May 2018.

But does Brexit change this? “Those businesses who have yet to prepare for GDPR – and are hoping that Brexit will mean they don’t have to – are the ones likely to be caught out,” says Frank Jennings, a partner at Wallace LLP.

Any organisation with operations in the EU as well as the UK will certainly comply with the new rules. If nothing else, it will be impossible for compliance teams to manage multiple data standards within the same organisation – brands and non-profits alike. And the deadline for compliance with the new GDPR rules will come around before the deadlines for completing Brexit’s Article 50. With this in mind, complacency is not really an option.

The rules around the Fundraising Preference Service muddy the waters slightly, not least because charities will have to pay for the privilege of membership (albeit the proposed pricing will be proportionate). Gillian McKay’s view on this is clear. “Lots of charities already have very good levels of engagement. In general their budgets are smaller, and their accountability greater than in the commercial sector. While they won’t be able to change the rules, they can certainly prepare for the changes.”


Raising awareness

The first thing organisations that do not have this engagement level should do is raise awareness. According to John Mitchison, head of preference services, compliance and legal, at the Direct Marketing Association (DMA),

“Brands need to make sure everyone knows what is going on and the rules coming in and how they currently process their data. That can be an eye opener for lots of people.When the regulations come into effect brands will not get their doors kicked down straight away. But if you can show you spent two years doing what you could do comply that will be very helpful.”

The RNLI has taken a proactive approach, announcing in 2015 that it would switch to an opt-in model. Jayne Clarke, the charity’s head of marketing, says the move has showed her how important being ahead is and how long getting everyone in place can take. You can read more about this in this article, taken from Marketing Week: The RNLI on why it has become the first charity to switch to opt-in comms.

Charity marketing message


It’s all about the message

Since we launched in September 2014, the team at BH&P have worked on the principle “Idea everything, Media anything” – the premise that only with a big, bold, gutsy creative idea behind your marketing, will you actually change peoples’ behaviour.

Gillian McKay from the ICAEW echoed this principle, “those third sector organisations that are investing now – in systems, preparation and getting their message really clear – will see minimum impact. But the reality is that smaller charities may have neither the resources nor the expertise to prepare for the change, and some will struggle as the rules are tightened up”.

Gillian went on to explain that for those organisations without the internal resources, it will be vital that they choose to work with third parties that can help them articulate their point of difference, and that are doing everything possible to be compliant.

In recent years, many charities have turned away from fundraising emails and direct mail, and are increasingly looking to inbound activity and social media for both awareness and fundraising campaigns.


Make the most of Google for Non-profits

Google offers advertising grants of up to US$10,000 per month to charities and some other not-for-profit organisations, as well as a free, enriched version of YouTube.

BH&P runs inbound campaigns for a number of non-profits, including the national charity Crimestoppers, using the Google Ad Grant. For Crimestoppers, as well as generating a significant uplift in anonymous reporting, test programmes allow us to set realistic KPIs and benchmarks for future campaigns. Whilst the ad grant can be used only for search advertising, this is nonetheless a valuable way for charities to both maximise learnings and create supporter engagement with specific issues, whilst leaving their own media budgets untouched.

BH&P rolled out the launch campaign for, on behalf of Crimestoppers in September 2016. The Google Search campaign is currently running at a cost per click of 76p and clickthru rate (CTR) of 5.25% (that’s a 300% uplift compared to Google’s own benchmark for the charity sector). The associated Facebook campaign has also exceeded benchmark targets with a cost per click of 20p, and a CTR of 1.04% (more than 200% better than Facebook’s benchmark of 0.33%).

Google-for-non-profitsMicro-lending organisation, Kiva, shares its message using Google’s marketing tools to drive qualified online traffic to its website, and to fund loans that can improve thousands of lives in dozens of countries around the world. They use Google AdWords to raise awareness for their organisation and drive traffic to their website. They also leverage Google Maps as a visual way for donors to see the footprint of Kiva loans. Kiva recently ran a contest on YouTube inviting the community to create and upload videos to describe the value of what Kiva is offering.


The power of social media for charity marketing

Social media offers numerous opportunities for charities to create engagement with their supporters, to make more people aware of the work they do. Seth Godin describes social media as “the greatest shift of our generation”, and those charities that embrace this will be well-placed to thrive over the next few years.

A good example of a successful social media campaign is the #NTChallenge by the National Trust.

National Trust was one of the very first charities to connect with their audience effectively via Instagram. With more than 400 million people uploading 80 million photos a day, Instagram is now much more than the home of a thousand self-obsessed #selfies – it’s changed the way people around the world communicate, discover and travel. It’s become a powerful branding tool.

Marketing non profitsWith the #NTChallenge, National Trust asked followers to upload photos of National Trust protected buildings, landscapes and coastlines, choosing one winning image each week. Their Instagram following is now over 154,000, proving that the #NTChallenge was a great way to celebrate their existing community whilst also attracting new supporters. At the time of writing, Instagram has 35,756 posts with the tag #ntchallenge (though with the aside that you should choose your hashtag carefully – some of these are definitely more Nike than National Trust – #ntc is a Nike challenge tagged in 432,345 posts).

People in 2017 expect to self-select the brands and messages they wish to engage with – and this is a trend that is set to continue. Social media and search marketing will become ever more important as they support this shift, and charities would be wise to embrace the change.


A final word

Whilst it is true that some organisations may lose valuable existing members when new rules on data protection come in to place, those that are both creative and diligent now, with high levels of supporter engagement, will see little change.

Social media and inbound charity marketing will continue to offer new and exciting opportunities to engage with supporters. But for many, the biggest challenge will remain in converting awareness and engagement into tangible and financial support.

What is clear is that rules around data handling will continue to be tightened – in and outside of the EU – and that charities as well as commercial businesses all need to be aware of the potential impact, and plan accordingly.

All figures correct at time of publishing, 16/01/17.


To find out more about BH&P’s creative solutions for non-profits, get in touch.

You can also sign up to receive updates from the fundraising regulator on the launch of the Fundraising Preference Service (FPS) via this link.

Launching energy theft reporting service on behalf of Crimestoppers

Launching energy theft reporting service on behalf of Crimestoppers

We’ve worked with the national charity, Crimestoppers, to launch the ground-breaking new service to reduce energy crime in the UK.


stayenergysafe-videoThe stayenergysafe service is a first of its kind and allows the public to come forward and anonymously report any suspicions or evidence of energy theft, either through the website or the dedicated number, 0800 023 2777.

An integrated campaign

We’ve worked with Crimestoppers throughout the project, offering a fully integrated creative service to launch the new stayenergysafe identity. We’ve created executions to target consumer and professional audiences, built a responsive website with its own secure portal, created a campaign launch video, a shortened launch video, implemented a multi-channel and contextual advertising campaign, and provided results based data analysis.

There are currently 150,000 cases of energy theft investigated every year. The charity aims to encourage more people to report cases of energy theft, a crime which has been known to have devastating effects following fires and explosions. There are horrific stories about energy theft on the website (link).

The launch

The public launch on Monday 19th September 2016 – which highlighted the real harm to individuals, property and lives due to energy theft – gained impressive media attention with publications in The Times, The Telegraph, The Sun, and a BBC Radio 2 interview, amongst others.

The new service received over 20 new reports of energy theft through its anonymous phone line and online reporting form within the first day, and we’re confident that the service will continue to encourage the public to report any concerns that they have about energy crime.

The website that we created for the campaign on energy theft can be seen at

Challenging the norm

Challenging the norm

Our commentary on the Cannes Lions 2016

By Creative Director Jim Thomas, Summer 2016


A creative idea exists for one reason and one reason alone: to out think your competition.

Creativity isn’t something that comes from the sort of books that break things down into a formula. The 8 truths, or the 12 principles, or the 10 essential thoughts.

It comes from a different place. Understanding customers’ thinking. Then changing their behaviour. It’s thinking that comes from art schools and salesmen. Both know they have to stand out.

Award winning creative should do just this. There’s simply no point in being clever, if you don’t change the way someone thinks, and ultimately, how they act. And whilst Cannes 2016 felt rather more like a trade fair than a showcase of creativity, much of the work that was shared felt clever in a new way.

The overriding trend we saw was for work that showed, rather than told. Where the idea was so blindingly obvious, it made you wonder why nobody had thought of it before.

The best way to explain this is by example.



Some of our hot picks of award winning creative work


Breast cancer awareness in Argentina

Argentina breast cancer awareness


In Argentina, where there’s a catholic conservatism, women’s breasts and nipples are a sensitive subject on social networks. But men’s aren’t. So using a fat man with moobs, a breast cancer charity, MACMA, showed women how to carry out a breast examination.

This campaign also highlighted the fact that men can get breast cancer, in a simple, visual way.


How about giving people time?


For frazzled new parents who were up all night Carrefour offered  a special reward – time.

From midnight until 5am Carrefour opened a special online supermarket where mums and dads could do their shopping and get exclusive night-time discounts on baby products.

A benefit at last in sleepless nights!


Or how do you sell when your target market is too young to buy?


You can’t sell a pram to a baby. So how do you show parents that their baby will be in the most comfortable buggy on the market.


Stroller built adult-sized buggies for parents to ride in and experience how comfy they were for their children.


Interrupting micro-moments


You can use an idea to interrupt the very moment a consumer is thinking about buying a product. This is what Maserati did in Germany.

Maserati knew that their car competed with the BMW 5 series, Mercedes E Class and the Audi A6.

Where do people go to find out more about a car? The internet. So Maserati bought the words “BMW 5 series”, “Mercedes C Class”, “Audi A7” and ‘test drive”.

When someone searched using these words the first ad they saw was from Maserati offering them a test drive from their home to the nearest BMW, Mercedes or Audi dealership.

You beat your competition. Your target market get a test drive in a Maserati before any German car salesman gets anywhere near them. Maserati got a 150% uplift in test drives and 10% more car sales.


Everyone loves dogs


People hate to think of dogs being put to sleep. An Auckland dogs’ home used a very simple everyday insight to tap into this and reduce churn.

There is a common saying that owners look like their dogs. This clever Aussie charity built a digital product integrating facial recognition software. They asked people to scan their faces, to see which dog best matched their face. They called this device ‘Doggleganger’.

And how could someone refuse a dog who matched them?

It helped empty the pound of dogs, gave people the chance to own a dog that matched them –and, importantly, and stopped the dogs’ home from looking like the bad guys who put healthy dogs to sleep.

By injecting fun into the very start of a potential adopter’s journey, this digital solution not only created differentiation from other dog adoption services, but has the potential to increase the conversion rate – in this case, the number of people that actually go on to adopt a dog.


Put viewers at the heart of the experience


What better way to show oppression than to show the freedom we have?

Asking people to give Amnesty access to their Facebook accounts let Amnesty show Facebookers how many countries they could be arrested in, tortured or killed.

Such innocuous things as having a drink, posting something anti government were tallied up to show how the world’s most controlling regimes would punish you.


We’ve chosen all these creative examples for one simple reason. They may all use the media of the moment, but at the core is one simple thought – an involving demonstration.


Thanks to BH&P‘s favourite CD, Jim Thomas, for writing this article on award winning creative.

Why does a lot of small business marketing not work quite the way you’d like it to?

Why does a lot of small business marketing not work quite the way you’d like it to?

And how can you change it?

(First presented to Reading’s RG1 group at Artigiano Reading on Thursday 24th September 2015)
RG1 meeting at Artigiano Reading

RG1 meeting at Artigiano Reading

To answer these questions, we need to go back to the start of a business. When the business owner – let’s call him Nick – sets up the business, he has a number of things, but the two that I want to focus on here are that he has a really clever, unique idea, and a “little black book” of contacts. When the business starts, it is likely to go through a period of rapid growth, as Nick really works his metaphorical “little black book” (and these days, with the power of LinkedIn, this can be a pretty big black book).

It’s worth adding an aside – this is relevant for most people that want to grow their business, but particularly pertinent for anyone that is working in professional services, or that has an intangible, hard-to-articulate, very clever or niche business proposition.

Scaling the business

At some point, the business owner (Nick) will start to think about how to scale that business beyond his or her own network. This may be within that first four years or so, whilst there is still some leverage in Nick’s own network. Or it may be that the growth in turnover starts to slow, plateau or even drop.

So this is the point at which the business is likely to invest – perhaps in a sales director, who brings his own little black book, in a CRM system, or perhaps in working with a new marketing agency. And in some instances that can fill a gap, but often the initiative ends up disappointing for everyone. It doesn’t create growth – in turnover or GP. In fact there may be such an increase in costs that the business starts losing money.

Here’s why. When you start up the business, everyone you are talking to knows you – or thinks that they do. The trust is in the business owner themselves as an individual. And that’s great. That’s why I called my agency Becky Holland & Partners (we’re still in the first growth phase).

But as you grow, the people you are talking to are not presold. Until you engage with them, they don’t really know you as a person. And so they don’t trust you. So the number of real leads that come in to the business will be proportionately less. And your conversion rate is likely to not be quite as good.

I’ve spent the past few years working with businesses that want to reverse that trend. To pre-sell the business as a whole to a specific audience of people.

Scaling a business requires not just trust but, critically, reaching a point where that the trust is not just in the business owner and partners, but in something tangible that the business stands for in its own right. Something unique that prospects will build an emotional connection with, and which they will remember. Something that is greater than the sum of the parts.

There’s a name for this thing. Brand.

Armed with this understanding, you are then ready to scale the business.

Small business owners can get really bogged down with the sheer scale of what they think they are “supposed” to do – social media, writing blogs, making video, generating all sorts of content. And none of these in its own right is a bad thing. They just take a lot of time sometimes, and it can be hard to see how it will get the business to where you wanted to go. Fundamentally, without a strong proposition and brand, all this does is to create a level playing field with everyone else that is competing for the same customers. This stuff is practical, and tactical – but in today’s world, I’d hesitate to call it marketing. Effective marketing is all about the message, and articulating it in clever ways. It’s not about the mechanic.

Things you can do to get started

If your business is established, and you want to try to find a way to scale it – I mean properly scale it – so that it has a value in its own right, then I’d recommend two books that would really help.

One is “Tribes” by Seth Godin, which gives you some really great examples and advice about starting a movement. Capturing your passion and the essence of what you do – and in the process building a “tribe” of followers. Preselling your business in a way that will help marketing work harder for you.

And the second is “Lean Startup” by Eric Ries – because so many of the principles in there – particularly those around “failing fast” are directly relevant to what growing organisations need to do to create focus, and make marketing work for them. This is a pretty good article from HBR if you’d like to read more (link)

Copy vs. Content – a guide for brands

Copy vs. Content – a guide for brands

These days, everyone is a copywriter.

It started with the invention of the email. All of a sudden instead of scribbling a memo, popping your head around a corner, or picking up the phone, everyone was writing more. With the rise of blogging, and social media, it has become a natural part of peoples’ lives for them to write, sometimes daily.

When you have a written dialogue with a person you know, that’s great, and fine and appropriate. But what happens when you need to write an account of an event, or create a newsletter? At what point does writing become copy, and when do you need to call in an expert?

We’ve come up against this quite a lot recently, particularly working with high growth businesses. In many instances, our clients have chosen to ask us to craft words on their behalf. But there are times when that’s impractical (for micro businesses as well as world-leading brands), and you need to be able to write the words yourself. Some options we have successfully offered to clients include running internal writing workshops, and creating a verbal style guide.

Here’s our quick guide to copy vs. content …

Copy and Content are not synonyms

But it is true they are both different to ‘normal’ transactional writing where you are just communicating basic information.

What makes them different is that they are both written in a deliberate and conscious way to create a very deliberate and conscious effect.

But one of them has a relatively straightforward and simple “purpose” – while the other has complex, layered and (usually) multiple objectives.

Basically, the old adage is true: “Copy sells, Content tells”.

Content has one simple purpose

The role of content is to interest people, engage them and hold their attention. To ‘tell a story’ (in the widest sense) and to be a narrator. Often today terms like “telling brand stories” are used to cover this sort of writing, but it typically include things like blogs, postings, newsletters, articles, videos and so on.

Copy has many jobs to do!

Copy, on the other hand is doing more than this (probably several things more). Copy is something that is deliberately written to get a response. Not any old response, but a very precise and particular one. It probably isn’t literally “a sale” (though it could be) but copy will always be aiming to get some sort of response which performs some important function on the ‘path to purchase’ (again, probably several functions).

First things first

To get copy right, you therefore need to know more than just the subject  matter you are communicating. You need to know about human psychology, you need to understand the context your copy will be read in and, most importantly, you need to understand exactly the mind-set, motivations, attitudes and moods of the target market (who you may never have met) and the zeitgeist in their industry/demographic at the moment (which you might not have direct experience of). And because the aim of copy is a response, its success (or lack of it) is fairly quantifiable (all of which explains why copywriters tend to be paid more than content writers).

So it’s worth starting before you write by deciding WHY you are writing. Is it Content? Or is it Copy? This decision means you start with a clearer idea of what else you need to be doing apart from simply communicating subject matter.

These tips are taken from an article by Steve Cook, Creative Partner at BHP.

To find out more or to request a copy of our latest PDF with more handy tips:

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Brand fit with Daniel Eley

Brand fit with Daniel Eley

On Thursday March 27th, I was delighted to be the invited guest at handle’s “Brand fit for recruitment” event.

The venue: Portman Square’s stunning Home House, with guest speakers Daniel Eley from Jamie Oliver, Andrea Pattico from ASOS, and Carrie Bedingfield.

Brand fit at Jamie Oliver

“There are people in the room who are far more qualified than me… but I know more than you about Jamie Oliver, so that’s what I’m going to talk about”

Daniel was keynote speaker, and took the mic like a seasoned pro. One sentiment underpinned 30 mins of witty chat about what employer brand means to him – “be nice”. At Jamie Oliver, the values that prevail are– “keep it simple”, enjoy yourself”, “grow with us”, and “spread the love”.

“We’ve turned “Jamie” into a verb. People say ‘this needs to be a bit more Jamie’ or ‘we need to Jamify this’.”

Employer Brand

Daniel’s thoughts on employer brand are not uncommon – it is “what people say about you when your back is turned”. A bad experience someone has at work will pivot his or her view of your brand. If they choose to share that, and others share the experience, then that becomes part of your brand, and is very hard to shake off. It’s often about things you can’t control, like a really good (or bad) cup of coffee, or the newly refurbished toilets, or the receptionist’s welcome.

The 40:60 recruitment rule If you have responsibility for hiring the right people within your organisation, then you do have some control over the employer brand. If you recruit, as Daniel does, 40% on skills, and 60% on the person, then you have a much better chance of finding people that will fit in well, be engaged and happy –  and those people will become your employer brand. Daniel has the ultimate tool in his recruitment armoury – the people on his team. This means that candidates are filtered on who they are, and not purely on a list of skills and qualifications. The focus is always on the person. “As our recruitment partner, part of what handle does, is they chase the wrong people away”

The panel discussion: (from left: host Aryn Hurst-Clark from handle, Andrea Pattico – ASOS, Daniel Eley – Jamie Oliver, Carrie Bedingfield – Onefish Twofish)

Question: how do you use social media for recruitment? Ange from ASOS explained how ASOS uses social media a lot for recruitment. “Because almost all ASOS team members are also customers, what this means in reality is that most people that work there were customers first”. In this type of organisation, very visible and growing fast, social media is a critical tool to help find and recruit the right people.

Contrast this with Jamie Oliver. A number of years ago, Jamie himself decided that to recruit a new young designer, they should use Instagram. So Jamie designed an Instagram ad himself, asking for a young, passionate graduate designer to join the team. Now if you know how many social followers Jamie has, you won’t be surprised that the poor person whose email address was on the ad, was having a nervous breakdown by 9.30am, with IT furiously trying to stop the deluge of CVs

Question: What have you done to kick off a referral programme?

Daniel: “We have a real family feeling, and people seem genuinely excited to introduce roles and opportunities to their own network. Although there is no formal referral programme, we use internal job postings, and encourage people to share them, even creating 140 character links that people can copy into their own social media accounts,. That’s where a lot of our new team members come from” Ange: “At ASOS, employees are almost all “Gen Y”. They are very active on social media, and this really helps. There is a formal referral programme, with generous financial rewards for the referrer, and that works for them. We are growing so fast, and recruitment needs to keep up with that”. Carrie: “What if you don’t want (for a whole host of reasons) to pay for referrals? In all our work on engagement, we try to unearth “Urban Myths” – so for example, the urban myth that Ange shared, that the CEO of ASOS shared £2 million of his personal money with staff. Or that handle recruitment sometimes takes the team on holiday at the drop of a hat – once they went to New York.”

The brilliant thing about urban myths is that they perpetuate themselves. They start with a truth, but as it is shared, the story can become exaggerated over time almost to the point of legend. I love the idea that you can give your employer brand enormous value in this way. Not only is there the promise of a tangible reward, but there is this great emotional hook, and as brands get bigger, this emotional hook will be the thing that makes the different between recruiting competent people – and recruiting great people.

Question: What do you think of direct recruitment? Peter Tafler (handle): “If you can do it yourselves, then do it”.

For recruiters, this was one of the key takeaways from the evening: the role of the recruitment agency is changing to something much more consultative, and relevant, especially for brands that want their employer and external brand to fit closely together.

Daniel and Ange echoed this sentiment. “handle works best with the ‘too difficult to source’ roles”.

Question: How do you establish an employer brand in a varied company? Ange: “Be authentic, tell the truth, talk as if you’re their friend, work closely with the marketing team. Work on content, engagement and retention – ensure even leavers tell a good story.” Carrie: “Find something brilliant that everyone buys into, and use this as a hook. If you are a publishing house, with titles ranging from academic, to fiction, children and cookery, then find something that spans all those genres. One thing that works, for example, is a story. Firsts make a great story. So for example, the first publishing house to create an eBook for every single current title, or the first ever carbon-neutral publishing house. “

The final word: quick tips for creating “brand fit” Daniel: “Be kind” Carrie: “Find what you get A grades for in relation to everyone else, and place that at the heart of your brand” Ange: “Put employees at the heart of everything you do. They’ll tell the story for you”

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