CAMPAIGNS: Recruitment Drive - Bell Pottinger counted in as NSO recruits

Client: Census 2001

PR Team: Bell Pottinger PR and the Office for National Statistics

in-house PR team

Campaign: Recruitment campaign for 69,000 enumerators

Timescale: December2000 - March 2001

Budget: Undisclosed

In October 2000, Bell Pottinger was appointed by the Office of National

Statistics (ONS) to support its campaign to recruit 69,000 enumerators

for the decennial National Census - Britain's largest-ever peace-time

recruitment campaign.

Although the Census itself has benefited from extensive advertising, PR

was the main vehicle for enumerator recruitment. Key messages were that

jobs were up for grabs, application methods (e.g. hotline and via

employment centres) and, more generally, that Census Day was coming on

29 April.


The overall aim was to sign up 69,000 emumerators and to raise awareness

of Census 2001 among at least 90 per cent of households. A target was

therefore set of more than 300 items of media coverage.

Strategy and Plan

The national launch photocall was held on 9 January at Jubilee Gardens

on London's South Bank. To facilitate interviews, a boat was hired to

visit national media houses based along the Thames.

Ten-foot pink balloons in the shape of the Census's hand (as in 'hand in

your form') were branded with the Census logo. Branded clothes were

produced for promotional 'hit squads', along with pink sponge hands and

the hotline number.

The national launch was attended by key Census staff, including Census

director Graham Jones and Census recruitment manager Pat Mann.

Bell Pottinger handled photocalls and awareness work in nine London

boroughs and 13 provincial cities - selected as key areas for

recruitment focus by ONS - were held during the next 17 days, in

conjunction with a publication house in each area. Other local media

were issued with photos the next day. Work in three Welsh cities was

handled by sister company Good Relations.

Measurement and Evaluation

Considerable media interest was gained in the national launch, with

attendance from photographers (e.g. FT, The Daily Telegraph, picture

agencies) and TV (e.g. BBC, ITN, Sky News). From BBC Newsroom South East

and Sky News at lunchtime to ITN News throughout the day, the launch

photocall was a success.

As the recruitment campaign drew to a close, there had been more than

300 items of print coverage with ten per cent accompanied by visuals

(usually in colour).

Although broadcast coverage has not yet been evaluated, 30-plus pieces

of radio and TV coverage were achieved during the recruitment


Key messages were carried accurately by most media. The ONS reports that

more than 250,000 calls were made to the hotline number by the end of

January (enquiries made via the website are not known).


After the national launch, the campaign carried out by Bell Pottinger

was structured in short bursts in each area with the continuity of

recruitment thereafter down to the Census's regional staff and

employment bureaux.

Whether the momentum of a few hours in each location eventually

translated into recruitment is difficult to tell. However, 69,000

enumerators were successfully recruited nationwide.

Bell Pottinger was subsequently chosen for other Census remits, all

aimed at raising awareness before 29 April. Work included the full

Census launch featuring TV chef Ainsley Harriot and (successfully)

encouraging The Sun to run its 'National Sunsus'.

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