Campaign: Glasgow turns around social-worker crisis - Public Sector PR

Campaign: Social Work Recruitment

Client: Glasgow Social Work Services

PR team: In-house and Barkers

Timescale: October 2003-March 2004

Budget: £50,000

Towards the end of last year, Scotland's social-work sector faced a recruitment crisis. Few social-work graduates led some local authorities to offer various incentives to new staff. Glasgow City Council (GCC) chose to highlight better basic pay and flexibility. Objectives

To hire an additional 400 staff as part of a restructuring to alleviate a service close to breaking point.

Strategy and Plan

While extra responsibility was given to existing staff, the key target audience for the recruitment campaign was this year's social-work graduates.

Barkers initially launched a recruitment advertising campaign in Scottish newspapers The Herald and The Scotsman, as well as other print media with a significant public service readership, such as The Guardian and Community Care. These ran in conjunction with a concerted PR campaign to address the image of social work and get the Glasgow staff shortages in the press.

GCC spoke freely of its 'staffing crisis' to offer an angle to national print media and convince social-work graduates that Glasgow was where they were needed most. With specialist public service press, it focused more on the restructuring of its social work services - bringing senior management back to case work, while encouraging junior staff to handle lighter cases.

The campaign ran to coincide with GCC committee proceedings that formalised the new approach and made the strategy public. Promotion on Radio Clyde was used to drive subsequent recruitment open days at national football stadium Hampden Park and the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.

Measurement and Evaluation

GCC received editorial coverage in Scottish editions of the Daily Mail, The Independent and the Daily Express, along with national dailies The Herald and The Scotsman. Features ran in specialist press, including Community Care, Local Government Chronicle and Municipal Journal.

GCC used cuttings agency McCallum Media Monitoring. The open days had attendance in the low hundreds.


Vacancies at GCC are now running at just 15 per cent, compared to 32 per cent in September 2003. So far, it has made 345 appointments, including 100 qualified social workers.

Community Care deputy editor Mark Ivory notes the 'significant impact on a massive staff shortage and high vacancy rate' achieved by the campaign.

He adds that the advanced and detailed briefing provided by GCC under strict embargo allowed the magazine to give it more coverage than it otherwise would have done.

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