HR services provider The Rialto Consultancy was formed in October 2004, offering clients a range of expertise from coaching, executive search and selection, interim management and training. Although the firm had grown from six to 80 employees, it wanted to raise its profile among HR directors and the wider business community.
To become a leading force in the HR industry and the business market generally. To create powerful brand awareness of The Rialto Consultancy.
To identify a practice for which the company would be recognised.
STRATEGY AND PLAN
Large players within the HR industry are known for being cautious about PR-led surveys on organisational stress and work/life balance, so the main challenge was to find a new performance area with which Rialto could be associated.
It hired Brazil to do six months of research, via email, phone, face-to-face interviews and focus groups, with 180 HR directors. Brazil discovered that 'organisational stagnation' was a major threat to performance, and was far from being an HR-only buzzword.
In HR terminology, 'stags' are individuals who have reached a stage in their job where they can go no further. If they leave their job they would be in danger of losing benefits, so despite being unhappy they stay, doing just the bare minimum of work and creating discord with other employees.
According to Brazil, around six million UK workers (20 per cent of the total workforce) could be defined as stags, so Rialto developed a consultancy service aimed at businesses trying to alleviate stagnation. Rialto's services, such as outplacement (a form of interim management) and coaching, were presented as catering for organisations wanting to get rid of stags.
To generate a news angle, Rialto asked Brazil to specifically research Mothercare, which had touched on the issue of stagnation but had not addressed it. Individuals' motivation and levels of engagement were measured, and those identified as potentially stagnant were interviewed to discover why they were unhappy. Brazil wrote a report based on its research, and gave it exclusively to freelance journalist Paul Bray. After his story was published in The Daily Telegraph, summary was offered to broadcast and HR media.
MEASUREMENT AND EVALUATION
Coverage initially appeared in The Daily Telegraph's Business Club. It was then picked up by more than 20 other titles, including The Times, The Guardian, The Independent, Human Resources, Personnel Today and People Management. Ten radio interviews were conducted, including spots on BBC Radio 4 and Five Live, LBC and various regional stations.
Rialto's website went from receiving 50 hits a week to 700. The firm says it gained 14 'significant' leads from companies and is now working with six of them. Brazil and Rialto plan to carry out more research in 2006, focusing on former stags to find out what had made them unhappy in their job. So far research has focused on employers and the HR function.
Bray says: 'This is not an issue normally addressed by the press. I wrote it for the Business Club section because it is primarily aimed at medium-sized businesses that are established and growing. Stagnation is the kind of issue they come up against as they often have an older generation of staff who, while gung-ho ten years ago, have become stuck in their ways.'
Seamus Waldron is chief technology officer at management-issues.com, the online PR resource for HR journalists.
I recall this particular story because the 'stags' descriptor was so apt and stuck in my mind. We even featured it on management-issues.com.
The agency used a common tactic in research-led stories by launching it as an exclusive, followed by a general roll-out as the target audience were readers of the human resources press. However, the fact that it was picked up so strongly by broadcast media shows how really good HR research can make it into the mainstream.
These research-led campaigns have a long shelf-life, and by re-packaging the findings for the management and HR sections of sector and vertical press, the agency should be able to achieve still more exposure this year.
Research in this sector is plentiful, so to consolidate awareness it is very helpful to reinforce messages over a longer timeframe. Brazil is right to recommend further research on this topic.
A quick search on the internet indicates that the research could have received more exposure here, though.
The tactical use of the web in maintaining the momentum and shelf-life of issues-led research stories is still greatly underrated by the industry.
Creativity: 4 Delivery: 4