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INDUSTRY VOICES

  • Andrea Fielding

Creating a diverse reaction

Updated: Sep 8


World Employer Branding Day 2022 is proud to Partner with 45 industry leaders from around the world including the team at SMRS who you will meet in Lisbon when 600 leaders from around the world come together in-person from 12-14 October 2022.

Below is a summary of a SMRS case study that achieved outstanding results in a campaign one of the hardest occupations to recruit for, Prison Officers.


We’re in the business of solving problems. And Unlocked had a massive one they needed our help with.


As if fighting to break the cycle of reoffending in the nation’s prison population wasn’t tough enough. They also needed to address the fact that only 10% of prison officers self-identify as being Black, Asian, or Minority Ethnic despite 25% of the adult male prison population and over 50% of young people being from these backgrounds. It was a diversity and inclusion timebomb. Unlocked knew something needed to change. And change fast.


Their graduate scheme typically attracted white, female, socially aware candidates, keen to change society for the better. They asked us to help them reach beyond this traditional audience. To widen their appeal. To target top grads considering careers in finance, tech, and teaching. To change the perception of a career in the prison service. And to attract more males, more BAME candidates and more than just social science students. We were up for the challenge.


With so much to achieve, we researched our target audience and discovered an honest, attention grabbing approach was called for. We couldn’t play it safe. We needed to take calculated risks and fight to raise Unlocked’s profile and broaden their appeal. We needed to reassure graduates about the demands of the role. Address any barriers influencers could pose. Communicate the meaningful nature of the work. And create dynamic stand-out content. So, we did just that.


We confronted the fact that prison is a scary place, and that even if you decide it’s the right career for you, the reactions of other people could make you change your mind. We created a no-holds-barred video promoting a career that gets a reaction. It became the catalyst for a digitally led campaign to simultaneously create mass interest, mass engagement and reach a highly targeted audience.


The video was the perfect vehicle to position Unlocked as a diverse and inclusive organisation. The cast truly reflected each of the audiences we were looking to attract with a variety of genders, ages, races, and backgrounds. Using YWare (our market leading data visualisation tool) we got very targeted too, pinpointing exact degree courses and universities where Unlocked’s ‘ideal candidates’ could be found.


And once our audience had seen the video, which we promoted on YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat, Spotify and programmatic, we took them on a journey, turning passive interest into active consideration. We shared real stories, told by current grads across carefully selected social platforms such as JoeMedia to target our male demographic. We also visited carefully selected universities with an on-campus buzzer game to put student’s reactions to the test. And we made sure we were on every graduate job board so there was no excuse to not apply.


And it worked. Unlocked received 36% more applications from males, 26% increase in applications from BAME candidates and 242% increase in apply now clicks. But it didn’t stop there. We’ve continued working with Unlocked to evolve and improve the application experience for graduates. Using personas, we’ve developed a content framework for second phase messaging that focuses on more detailed information about Unlocked’s environment, culture, and roles.


We’ve ramped-up Unlocked’s visibility on social media too and used paid promotion to get their content the following it deserves. And we’ve championed the influence of influencers. We invited 4 BAME students to an event about racial inequality and the justice system, where we provided them with a series of promoted posts for their Instagram and story feed. These achieved massive levels of engagement and reached 15,650 people.


And the story continues to evolve, our partnership with Unlocked continues to grow and together we continue to create a positive reaction…