Business: Gender pay gap sparks off debate

The Chartered Management Institute (CMI) asked Kindred to create a campaign, based on the results of its annual National Management Salary Survey, to raise awareness of the gender pay gap in the UK and to advise managers, employers and the Government on how to address the issue. The challenge for Kindred was to take an issue that is both sensitive and inflammatory, but regularly covered in the media, and get people to take notice of it.

In the pink: commuters get a helping hand from the CMI's pink Shadowmen
In the pink: commuters get a helping hand from the CMI's pink Shadowmen

Campaign: Mind the Pay Gap
Client: The Chartered Management Institute
PR team: Kindred
Timescale: August 2011
Budget: £4,000

OBJECTIVES

  • To draw attention to the persistent gender pay gap
  • To make the argument that poor management practices lead to disengaged employees and jeopardise performance
  • To call on employers, individuals and the Government to bring about change.

STRATEGY AND PLAN

The survey revealed that the current average gender pay gap stands at £10,546.

Kindred devised a campaign that focused on conveying key messages to selected audiences with young, female managers a priority. For this reason, a consumer exclusive with Stylist magazine was secured.

Kindred also prepared case studies and lined up spokespeople including high profile CMI Companions, such as Phillippa Williamson, CEO of the Serious Fraud Office. The subjects of the case studies were themselves used as spokespeople, appearing on Sky News and in The Times to add a new dimension to the story.

In addition, regional and sectoral versions of the main press release were produced. To keep the debate going, a number of letters to key publications were drafted, leading to further national coverage in The Guardian and The Independent.

In terms of social media, all ambassadors for the campaign were encouraged to promote #Mindthepaygap on Twitter, while the CMI also used its own Twitter account to promote the effort.

MEASUREMENT AND EVALUATION

The campaign generated 540 pieces of coverage, 100 of which were national. This including 35 national broadcast hits, included BBC News and Sky News, and coverage in every broadsheet - 22 national print items in total.

Eighty-four per cent of the coverage contained one or more key message. There were 1,900 significant tweets (containing a link to a news article, or retweets of these) in the first two days, including @bbcnews and @guardian news, with combined followers of 530,000.

RESULTS

Both the Home Office and the shadow home secretary issued statements in response to the story, as well as other MPs requesting further information. An e-petition has also been started to prompt action on pay inequality.

The coverage drove a 70 per cent increase in hits to the CMI website during launch week, and a 17 per cent increase in calls to the membership line.

High-profile female commentators such as Tanya Gold, Gill Plimmer and Christine Bleakley covered the story, and it was also tweeted by people such as Jon Snow, Louise Mensch MP, Christina Ioannidis and Apprentice candidate Claire Young.

SECOND OPINION - LOUISE NICOLSON, MD, BREAD PUBLIC RELATIONS

This is a classic case of a taut, creative campaign generating real change. Lighting the story's touch paper with the target female demographic in the Stylist exclusive was a smart start.

Fuelling interest with local and sectoral translations of the core story and 'letters to editors' kept the story alive in publications saturated with unremarkable surveys.

To generate competitive posturing in the House of Commons, spark an e-petition and drive substantially more traffic to the client's website is a great achievement.

Above all, the CMI enjoyed the glow of attention from serious commentators and increased membership enquiries. It would be interesting to understand CMI's longer-term agenda. Issues-based PR burns with a short, hot, bright flame but what does CMI want its longer term reputation to be built on? Are one-issue members CMI members for life?

Undoubtedly, Kindred has proved that great public relations changes minds and stirs people to take action. And all for £4000. A tough act to follow.

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