How to use PR & marketing to improve your business development strategy

Stephanie King, Head of BlueSky PR’s Recruitment, HR & Talent Management Practice reports.

Do you put your media coverage up on the wall in reception? Do you keep a copy in your office? If the answer to both of these is yes then you need to be asking yourself who is actually seeing it. It is the people that have already found you, and not those that you are trying to target. So how else you can use press coverage, and content marketing, to increase your brand’s reach to your target audience?

PR and content are excellent business development tools, but only if you are using them correctly.

Business development = cold calling

In recruitment, business development often refers solely to cold calling - and by cold calling I mean sales calls. Wrong. In reality business development refers to any activity designed to directly bring in new business. Too vague? Hear me out.

I would argue that all your marketing and PR activities fall under the scope of business development. But, for arguments sake, let’s focus on the calls and emails made by your recruitment consultants to potential clients.

Want your calls to be less cold?

The more you know about your target in terms of their requirements and interests, and the more they know about you as a business, the less cold your call. If someone has read an article you were quoted in recently, subscribed to your blog, or downloaded a whitepaper from your website, you have a great starting point for conversation. And your marketing team should be able to provide you with a list of these warm leads for you to follow up on as part of the company’s engagement strategy.

What if it they haven’t interacted with your marketing but you know they’re hiring?

Ask yourself what content has been produced recently that could be of interest to them? Which publications have you been quoted in? Use these as a starting point for conversation to demonstrate your expertise. If they haven’t seen it already then why not offer to send them a copy?

When you don’t immediately launch into a sales pitch, the person you’re speaking to will relax, you’ll establish a level of trust, and they will be more open to hear about your expertise.

Hiring managers are busy, they don’t have time to chat

If you’re adding value to their day by providing content that answers a question or problem they need solving – such as talent pipelining - then they are more likely to make time for you. Even if they just ask you to email it across, you then have a reason to call back at a better time to see if they have any questions on the topic.

They may not need the services of a recruitment agency right now. However you have provided them with information that adds value to their job – be it on a trend within the industry or new regulations they’ll be impacted by – which means your brand will be on their radar when the time comes that they do need to call on a recruitment partner.

What sort of content will be most effective?

This is where your consultants’ wealth of experience comes in. What questions are clients and potential clients always asking them? Could you conduct a survey of clients or candidates to answer these and then produce material on the back of this?

You could send it as a traditional survey via email. Or you could simply ask every candidate or client you speak to that day / week a question and keep track of the responses. Pull them together, write it up into a report and voilà you have valuable content to share with your targets.

Working in the public sector? How about using the freedom of information act to pull together some data? We undertook a freedom of information request on behalf of one of our clients to see how many times NHS Trusts had had to breach pay caps to protect patient safety. We broke the results just after the second round of caps were announced. The result? Front page coverage in The Times as well as a wealth of coverage in the nursing press outlining the steps our client was taking to turnaround NHS Trusts’ off framework spend – a great piece of collateral that they could then use for business development purposes.

Want more tips on ways to use PR and marketing to improve your business development strategy?

We’re running a recruitment marketing masterclass along with Barclay Jones on 20th September where we’ll be discussing recruitment marketing ROI and how to measure it, how to generate and achieve real benefit from PR, how to create effective content and much, much more!