Campaigns: Public sector - Childcare can be a job for the boys

Campaign: Jobs for the Boys
Client: Children's Workforce Development Council (CWDC)
PR team: Band & Brown
Timescale: January 2009-ongoing
Budget: £9,500

The vast majority of those working in childcare settings are women - just two per cent of the early years workforce is male. The CWDC wants to attract more men into careers in childcare.

Objectives

- To challenge perceptions about working in childcare and prove it is an enjoyable job for both men and women

- To drive enquiries and job applications from men

- To increase traffic to the Early Years Hotline and childcare careers website.

Strategy and plan

The PR team wanted to look at the issue of male role models for nursery-aged children, identifying how much or little time they may have with men, particularly those from one-parent families.

A poll through researchers PCP was commissioned, asking for the views of 1,000 parents with children in nursery settings on men in childcare.

The poll found the majority wanted to see a male working in their child's nursery, and this rose significantly in one- parent families. In total 55 per cent of parents - and 66 per cent of lone mums - wanted a male childcare worker in their children's nursery.

The poll also found 17 per cent of children from lone-parent families had fewer than two hours a week contact time with a man, and 37 per cent of parents thought it was important for boys to have a male to look up to.

The PR team then challenged male journalists on national and regional newspapers to shadow a male childcare worker for a day, with an impressive take-up.

Bespoke media packages were given out including interviews with men working in local nurseries, and vox pops with parents and single mums. Three spokespeople from the CWDC were also made available for interview.

Measurement and evaluation

In total more than 150 pieces of coverage were generated and male journalists from The Times, the Yorkshire Post and The Voice newspapers, along with several other regional papers, took part in the work-shadowing challenge.

The campaign also appeared on BBC Breakfast, BBC News, GMTV, Five, BBC Radio Five Live and BBC Radio Four, as well as in national newspapers including The Daily Telegraph, the Daily Mail and The Guardian.

As Band and Brown had negotiated a pre-agreed feature with The Times, the story was embargoed for 20 January 2009 - the day of US president Barack Obama's inauguration. The campaign still managed to attract coverage despite this being one of the busiest news days in history.

Results

All coverage positioned working in childcare as a positive career choice for both genders and 20 per cent of coverage included a case study of a male childcare worker.

Hits to the childcare careers website have increased by 13 per cent and calls to the Early Years Hotline have increased by 30 per cent.

SECOND OPINION - Amanda Mills, Account director, Seventy Seven PR

Launching a PR campaign on the day of Obama's inauguration was a huge gamble - even if a national exclusive had been lined up. In this case, luck was on their side, but it could have gone either way.

Pulling together creative tactics that will deliver within a tight budget is always a challenge, but Band & Brown did well to secure bigger feature pieces that took it beyond the news pages. Likewise, the creation of bespoke packages for broadcast media was a nice approach to generating more substantial coverage.

Perhaps there could have been more of a creative focus to the online element though. Surveys are a tried and tested approach to generating headlines in traditional media, but could the campaign have benefited from a creative approach to targeting its audience in the social media space? After all, there was a major online objective to the campaign.

Overall, the volume of coverage achieved and the resulting ROI looks impressive, especially considering it was one of the busiest news days of the year. However, its real value can only be truly measured by the effect it had on the bottom line, or the call to action, so hats off to the increase in call volumes to the hotline and hits to the website.

But I would like to know what happened with the applications, which was the ultimate objective after all.

Given the choice I would have left President Obama to his own devices.

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