BEHIND THE HEADLINES: Army recruiters pin hopes on external comms

A major Army recruitment drive has ambitious plans to increase by a

quarter the number of civilians applying to join.



The Army has previously carried out all regional marketing internally

but Golley Slater Group (GSG) has recently been appointed to handle a

pounds 3.2m recruitment advertising and PR campaign, while recruitment

group Search Consultancy has been appointed on a trial basis in

Scotland.



The aim is to increase recruitment, as the Army is 8,000 short of full

strength.



According to Army recruiting boss Colonel Wayne Harber, the problem has

arisen because traditional recruitment methods have proved too

bureaucratic.



'We don't have a large enough footprint on the ground,' he said.



The Army has 123 recruitment offices nationwide but only 30 in prime

high street locations.



In a bid to target prospective soldiers more effectively, the Army has

divided the country into 12 regions. GSG's brief seeks to complement

Saatchi & Saatchi's national marketing campaign and ensure the

recruitment drive is more responsive.



GSG has begun a roadshow to visit the commanders they will report to in

the different regions. The roadshow is an opportunity to discuss

strategy depending on the demographics of each area.



Mike Leeson, who heads the GSG account, describes its task as 'traffic

building'.



GSG is using affiliates Northern Profile in Leeds, Manchester and

Newcastle, and Drury Communications, which replaces McCann-Erickson in

Northern Ireland later this year.



Scotland, however, has come in for specialist treatment with the

additional appointment of the Search Consultancy. This is the first time

the private sector will be involved in Army recruitment. Search

Consultancy will handle most of the recruitment process, although final

selection remains in military hands.



From a PR perspective, Search will carry out most PR north of the

border, although GSG will provide complementary activity.



'Golley Slater will have a small team in Scotland specifically for

regimental activity. Its approach will be small and localised but will

still drive recruits,' said Harber.



If a success, the recruitment agencies being tried in Scotland may be

introduced elsewhere. According to Harber, the Army can't afford for the

campaign to fail.



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