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PCSO awareness and recruitment campaign

PCSO awareness and recruitment campaign

Best practice from Manning Gottlieb OMD

This campaign won the Grand Prix Award, Gold for 'Media Large Idea' and Bronze for 'Media Innovation' at the Media Week Awards 2007.

Background

The Home Office recruitment campaign for Police Community Support Officers faced difficult challenges.  Their role had been derided in some sections of the media as ‘plastic policemen’; second-class police officers with less training and few powers. 

Our brief had two objectives:

1) to raise awareness and understanding amongst the general public of the role of PCSOs, and

2) to generate enquiries from potential recruits.

The Big Idea

Through a bespoke questionnaire canvassing the attitudes and opinions of 1,000 people we identified that poor awareness and understanding of the PSCO role were not actually the barriers to success, for either the public or potential recruits.  Instead the campaign should focus on increasing the value people put in the role of PCSOs .

So how could we improve value?  Research proved that when the public came into contact with PCSOs it created a positive impression , but that the public were simply not seeing PCSOs in enough numbers to understand the benefits that they brought to the community (only 10% had met one!). 

Our solution therefore was to use communication to re-create this direct contact that would then increase value.  We would ‘create virtual experiences that bring PCSOs and the community together’.

Making it happen

To bring the public and the PCSOs together we concentrated on depth (AFP, online & PR), breadth (TV), frequency (national press) and proximity (local radio/press/outdoor) of experience. 

At the heart of the plan was the creation of an ad-funded television programme, following real-life PCSOs on the beat and showing how they interact with the public and regular police.

The first of six episodes of Beat: Life on the Street aired on ITV1 on Sunday, October 29 at 6pm - the first ever peak time AFP - and was watched by an average of 2.8 million people per episode.

The programme gave us valuable, leverage-able content.  To humanise the PCSOs we brought the stars of the show to life through PR coverage in TV listings titles and local newspapers;  local radio DJs went out on the beat with the PCSOs;  the stars took part in live web-chats on ITV.com after the shows;  DVDs of the show have been created for potential recruits and the Home Office are now investigating streaming it on their recruitment site.

Beyond AFP, advertising in national newspapers & social issue TV programming accelerated contact to the 90% who had not come into contact with PCSOs, featurelink took PCSO experiences into local communities and outdoor was used in areas where recruitment needs were highest.

Results

The first dip of tracking (pre-AFP) recorded 58% campaign awareness, but it was through ‘Beat’ that the campaign truly put the value into PCSOs. 

· Public value of PCSOs soared from an average of 28% pre-campaign to 49% after advertising & up to 62% after watching Beat.

· Likelihood to make an information request about becoming a PCSO increased from 8% among non-viewers to a staggering 30%

· Beat became the UK’s biggest ever ad funded program with a cumulative reach of 14 million adults across the six episodes.

· In total Beat delivered 30 Adult TVRs as a 25 minute programme for the equivalent cost of buying 100 Adult TVRs as 30” spots.  Using Nielsen methodology  for evaluating AFPs, this was a media value £7.16m – equivalent to a multiplier of £18 value for every £1 spent on production.

· And even more value will come from a repeat of the series from Sunday, July 29 on ITV1 at 17.30.

AJR
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