Recruiting social workers – an effective campaign plan

Posted on September 22, 2009

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cwdc_websiteIn light of the flurry of activity on TV, it’s worth a return to the subject of raising awareness of social work as a profession and whether the current big budget approach is the right one.

Initially, without having seen the ads in the Government’s “give them a voice” campaign, I was skeptical.  Having seen the ads, I was apoplectic at the lack of a compelling proposition and could see no benefit in the creative conceit of voicing over major stars in the way they did.  The ads said little about the role, and nothing that would help recruit the right candidates.

What seems to have been important to friends I have who are social workers, however, is that there has been a large scale campaign in the first place.  So that is a good thing.  But as we got further into that conversation, it became clear that there are, in fact, two.

Whilst I was talking about the “give them a voice” campaign, it turned out that she was talking about the “be the difference” campaign that has also started to run, and the bouncing ball ad.  Looking at the CWDC website, it seems that one has replaced the other – pulled because of its lack of effectiveness?

Now this is all extremely confusing.  And worse is to come because the search terms are so badly thought through.  “Be the difference” may seem like a good line for telly, but when you are driving people online and the end of your TV ad says “Search be the difference” you had better hope there isn’t a campaign for youth development called http://www.bethedifference.org/ – oh, wait, there is…

Type it into YouTube (as you would if looking for the ads) and you won’t even see the social worker campaign videos.  Not even if you add the phrase “social work” – why?  Well, partly because you have to search for CWDC or Children’s Workforce Development Council – catchy.

And partly, as a cynic would say, it’s because you don’t want people looking at the ads online for free when you can make loads of money out of Ed “I’ve told everyone I’ve got loads of money to spend on this” Balls.

kettle adPersonally, I think the new “Kettle” ad is good.  Much, much better than the first campaign.  Sadly, despite prime time TV slots, the strap line, searched for on YouTube brings up ads by Nike with over 60,000 views that play on the line “Make the difference”.  Searching for the bouncy ball ad brings up Sony’s iconic Bravia ad from 2006.

If it’s so difficult to compete with these brands and iconic advertising, my suggestion would be that people should be encouraged to search for “social work” rather than generic, crowded terms.  By way of proof, and due largely to a strategy that relies only on paid media, the social work ad has only been viewed 29 times.

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