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PR & Comms Recruitment together

WHY USING MULTIPLE RECRUITERS TO FILL YOUR COMMS ROLES ISN’T A SMART STRATEGY

The people you bring into your business are the same folk who win you business, keep clients happy, and grow accounts. They’re the ones who chat to their pals in the industry about what you’re like to work for. More often than not, their first communication link to you and your agency outside of website and social is via a recruiter. So, you want to make sure the right message is getting out there, to the right people, via recruiters who know what they’re doing and do it with care.

NOT JUST A CV FACTORY

Good quality PR and communications recruitment is nuanced, it’s elegant, it’s strategic. It’s like a good comms team in a way. It needs a leader, a project or campaign manager – someone who keeps all the moving parts dancing beautifully, with the right cadence, and ultimately makes sure it all connects together. A good recruiter is a storyteller who knows how to talk to an audience about who you are, what you do, and why you do it. What makes you different, and better. A good recruiter is like having your own brand PR person with influencing skills who can also throw in some crisis comms and reputation management if you need it. Working in partnership with your recruiter means you have someone who believes in you and your brand and is invested. Someone who is driving things forward. They want to see you win and know that happens through collaboration and effective client handling. You see, we are much the same.

LET’S SPIN THIS

We know that brands often use a few different agencies to support them. There might be a specialist ad agency, a PR agency, a social and digital agency, all working to bring together different elements of the same campaign. Across inter-agency projects, there’d be someone in charge of managing the project overall with regular check-ins to make sure all the elements are coming together on time, on budget, and as per the strategy.

As a brand, you wouldn’t bring in three different consumer PR agencies to do exactly the same work on the same elements of the campaign. You wouldn’t engage three different consumer PR agencies to all write their own version of a press release about the launch of a new product, not check the wording and have them all sell-in to the same media about the same thing, but in their own way. It would be a waste of time, money, energy and resources. It just wouldn’t work.

And if you were a consumer PR agency and a brand approached you, asked you to pitch for the business and then said “listen, you and two other agencies pitched, and we like all three, so you’ve all got the business to work on. Just crack on and whoever’s campaign we like the best, once it’s executed, we’ll pay the invoice” would you do it? Would that make sense to you? Of course not.

Because, first off, you wouldn’t work for free. And secondly, it would be bedlam with confused messaging; PRWeek and PRovoke would be inundated with objection articles.

So, why do brands and communications agencies expect recruiters to work in a way that wouldn’t work for them, or in a way they wouldn’t be prepared to work?

GLORY DAYS VERSUS CURRENT DAY AND WHY IT MATTERS

Pre-Covid the life of a PR and communications recruiter looked a lot different to how it is now. How we worked and sourced talent was very different. We had databases and we used them as a search tool, candidates were super responsive, clients were responsive, and ghosting wasn’t so much of a thing. We met candidates for a coffee, in actual real life, so connections were formed differently. PR life was pretty much 5 days in the office as standard. There was always a lot of talent out there, ready to hear about their next move. Client expectations were different. There were a few of us seasoned, well-trained, networked PR and comms recruiters who were trusted and valued. Recruitment has never been easy, but it was certainly easier then.

Post-Covid the landscape is very different. Candidate engagement and job application is much lower and for every job that’s posted, around 85% of applicants can’t do the job they’ve applied for and have no relevant experience. The way we source and tap into a diverse talent pool is even more nuanced and strategic and it takes a lot more time to engage and to build relationships and trust with the right people. Ghosting is mainstream, not an anomaly.

A huge percentage of candidates we’ve engaged with just don’t turn up for us and we never hear from them again. Often, when they do turn up for us and we spend huge amounts of time interviewing, coaching and giving counsel, briefing them, and helping with their CV… we never hear from them again. Or we put them forward for roles and they don’t turn up for interview. During COVID, many recruiters who didn’t have much experience were made redundant, so they set up by themselves at their kitchen table, offering low rates and offering a service that represented that.

KEEPING THINGS CASUAL (RECRUITMENT VERSION)

Speed dating isn’t our jam, so if a potential new client says “We don’t really want to put all our eggs into one basket” or “We just want to cast the net a bit wider and work with a few recruiters” we say no thanks client, and walk away. In this post-Covid world of ours, everything has changed, including what’s important and acceptable to candidates and the demands and expectations of clients. So working at speed and in competition means the things that really matter, don’t hold value, and we find ourselves in a situation where…

  • Unearthing and supporting underrepresented talent is impossible and the ability to counsel clients across accessibility and DEE&I in general goes out of the window.
  • The recruitment strategy is nil.
  • The same (small) pool of candidates is being chased by the same three recruiters.
  • Candidates get p*ssed off.
  • And your brand reputation is getting no favours.
  • We don’t have your full care and attention, so we can’t give you ours.

No one is winning because there are no project managers making sure everyone is working to the same goal, keeping to the strategy, getting the right messaging out there and executing a flawless campaign.

Instead, your eggs are in three baskets with three recruiters all with different agendas, different values, and ethics, basically riding roughshod across the talent pool and f*cking sh*t up. Because, even the most brilliant of recruiters can’t do the best possible job with no control over the recruitment project as a whole.

Added to that, most clients won’t have time to brief three recruiters separately, effectively and with enough clarity that they know everything there is to know about the job, the team, the work, the culture, the clients, the expectation, the pain points, the stuff you need to work on to retain and attract the right people into your teams.

If you have your job out with three recruiters who you expect to all work on the same job at the same time (for free) then immediately you’re towards the bottom of the pile in terms of priority, because their chance of filling it is only one in three.

Just like your PR team wouldn’t be motivated by working on the same campaign as two of their competitors and on the fastest to execute the campaign payment terms, your recruiters aren’t motivated to give their all for a one in three chance of being paid either. They might see who they have bouncing around on the database to brief and then fire a load of cut-and-paste LinkedIn messages out, but then they’ll just move on to the next role.

Generally (if you work with contingent recruiters who are target driven and work across multiple roles alongside multiple recruiters) the roles that come into those contingent recruitment agencies will be prioritised on the ease and speed in which they will be filled, therefore on income generation. This helps no one, especially underrepresented groups. It definitely doesn’t help you, the client, or the recruiter who is still working for free with the hope of being paid.

WOULD YOU LIKE TO GO EXCLUSIVE?

So, our advice to you, brands, and comms agencies is this: Treat your recruiter like you’d want to be treated by a client of yours, in the way you’d want to be treated yourself, like you’d treat a client. Find yourself a trusted, specialist PR and comms recruitment agency, and work with them exclusively. The benefits of this are insurmountable. You and your role will be given the highest priority, more focus, more time, and worked on more quickly with a deeper purpose. Your recruiter will get to really understand your business and brand, so they can have the right conversations with the right talent and the likelihood is that the role will be filled quicker and with an ethical approach.

We are human and (most of us) really care about what we do, how we do it, and our reputation. We want the best for you and our candidates. Cultivate and work on the relationships between us. Give us time and honesty. And if you wouldn’t work for free doing PR for a brand alongside two other PR agencies, then understand what you’re asking your recruiter to do. And. Just. Don’t.

*BoldMove’s team doesn’t work to targets. Or in a fastest CV over the line race. To chat about ways to work with us at BoldMove, drop Ellie or Julia a line.


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