Coventry City Council: Integrated campaign to recruit qualified experienced Social Workers

With 3,600 qualified experienced social worker vacancies across the UK, employers have been forced to turn to expensive agency workers; UK councils spend a total of £300 million on agency social workers annually. Recent research conducted by TMP Worldwide and Community Care provided insight that the shortage is only likely to increase, with 43% of social workers considering moving out of the profession. The supply of Social Workers is not expected to match demand until 2022. TMP were brought in to help Coventry City Council to cut through a crowded market place and attract some of the hardest to reach candidates.

The challenge

Hiring permanent staff is a tough enough challenge for any local authority. For Coventry City Council (CCC), however the challenge was going to be an even bigger one. Following the much-publicised death of Daniel Pelka in 2012, Coventry City Council was in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons, their reputation tarnished. In addition to that, a recent Ofsted inspection rated the service as inadequate. On the face of it, CCC was an employer at its least attractive. But when you hit rock bottom, you get brave.

The Solution

The research highlighted a belief that Social Workers think that most recruitment marketing is sugar-coated; what they want is an authentic, honest portrait of the employer and the challenges. For CCC, being honest meant acknowledging what happened.

Our campaign for CCC used the galvanising line, ‘Do it for Daniel’. Its controversial approach takes a
tragic case and sets out to create a positive legacy for all at-risk children in Coventry. We told the tough, honest story of how the death of Daniel had led to a complete overhaul of systems and processes – giving proof that lessons had been learned and that social workers would see a radically improved work environment.

The campaign ran across media with the highest audience traffic, anchored around a primary package with Community Care. We also developed a scrolling site, to take our audience on CCC’s journey. With clear research findings, we knew the application process needed to be as simple as possible. When they had registered – by answering six clarification questions – it was TMP’s role to confirm the registrations, vet candidates and keep them warm through to subsequent interview with CCC.

“Yes, I think it is a bold campaign, and yes, I think it will be divisive. But it needed to be. And it’s working. Where other local authorities struggle to recruit even one social worker, we’ve hired 35.”
Martin Reeves, CEO, Coventry City Council

“Coventry City Council should be applauded for their Do it for Daniel campaign.”
The British Association of Social Workers


Benefits and Results

The campaign included advertising and editorial options, including listings, banners, Job of the Week, MPUs/videos, advertorials, ‘page peel’, and interviews with CEO Martin Reeves and Executive Director, Brian Walsh. As the campaign progressed, additional interest came from the likes of the Guardian,, Gumtree and The Professional Social Worker Magazine, resulting in free advertising inventory.

TMP’s Media Relations team worked with the client to generate and maximise editorial opportunities created by the high profile nature of the campaign. These included: BBC, ITV, The British Association of Social Workers, the Guardian, Community Care, the MJ and the Coventry Evening Telegraph. The advertising equivalent value of the PR coverage generated is estimated at £350,000. The combined advertising and editorial drove traffic to a dedicated campaign site

With a generated click count at 10,849, the overall cost per click is £0.72, the campaign has secured over 35 hires. The campaign also received 90% positive editorial media coverage, as well as multiple plaudits across the industry.

This campaign picked up the Best Print Advertisement RAD award and was also nominated for Best Integrated Campaign award.