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International association for the measurement and evaluation of communication
Campaign title: Prison Officer Recruitment
Client/Entering Company: Ministry of Justice (UK)
Company Name: Ministry of Justice (UK)
The Ministry of Justice published a white paper to tackle challenges facing prisoners. A key commitment in creating a safe prison environment was to recruit an additional 2,500 prison officers by 2018. Since 2017, the MOJ has put in place a new campaign evaluation process.
Local targeting – tracking the performance of priority prisons to ensure targets are met
Low cost – using low cost PR to improve perceptions of the role and supplement paid for activity in driving applications.
The Ministry of Justice published a white paper in November 2016, Prison safety and reform, to tackle challenges facing prisons. A key commitment in the paper was to recruit an additional 2,500 prison officers by 2018. This measure will make prisons safer and reduce re-offending rates.
A critical component of this commitment was the development and deployment of an effective recruitment campaign. In April 2017, the Ministry of Justice and its agency, Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS), launched a new campaign. The challenge of the recruitment campaign was to attract quality candidates to a role that is perceived by the public as dangerous and unrewarding.
The campaign aimed to demystify the role of the prison officer as a turn key and to position it instead as a rewarding career where individuals can make a difference. Its overall objective was to build a cross-government campaign to facilitate greater application and conversion rates
to meet this target by 2018. A further objective was to establish an effective value for money recruitment service for MoJ, capable of delivering ongoing bulk recruitment. The MoJ adopted a tightly geo-targeted approach to get the right number of number of prison officers per establishment.
The campaign aimed to meet the following deliverables by the end of 2018:
MoJ inherited a campaign based on cost per click on apply. This was not weighted by specific vacancies or difficulty to recruit to prisons. This provided an opportunity to improve our measurement approach. Our strategy was to work with the business to understand demand.
Using PowerBi, a data visualisation tool, the team ensured accuracy in setting targets for each prison, not undershooting or overshooting, and adjusting for effectiveness (see figure 1).
Each prison has a target staffing level required for safe operation (see figure 2). This target staffing level is calculated using PowerBi.
Data from past applications offer information about conversion rates. From these figures, the data team advise on the level of targeted advertising needed per establishment, particularly those which have historically struggled to attract candidates (see figure 3). This data informs our communications media plan, which is refined with our external agencies (see figure 7). For the campaign to drive applications to the priority sites it was imperative to use the right channels to reach our target audience.
Our strategy to achieve this was to:
Our strategy for refining our measurement framework was to:
Implement floodlight tags. We developed a solution to trace media source via ATS, something that had not been possible before and unlocked a wealth of data.
Work with the business to understand application process. We surveyed 1,000 applicants which highlighted problems and helped us support the business in piloting new processes, resulting in a conversion rate that was twice as effective as BAU.
Use data regularly to optimise media and adjust media planning. Integration with the data team helps us understand the changing demands of establishments, adjust our media spend in terms of where it is needed and what channels we use (see figure 7).
Implement an integrated measurement approach. This would be used for hard-to-recruit for sites to create a bespoke media package, from PR to social. All activity, whether paid or low cost, can be tracked back and enabled us to understand channel effectiveness.
Insight gained through Mosaic data, interviews and surveys showed that the public had a negative perception of prison officers. Surveys such as YouGov showed that the perceptions of the role as a positive and rewarding career were declining sharply and that people were less likely to support family or friends doing the job in the future (see figure 4). This insight provided data that enabled us to get support from the business to help us refresh the campaign, with a greater focus on the role of prison officer as a professional career with purpose and pride.
Unlike the previous campaign, we wanted to focus on showcasing the benefits of the role, something of which people were less aware, rather than the daunting elements, which was relentlessly covered by the press. The role was positioned as valuable, with the aim of changing public perceptions and making more people aware of the work that prison officers do, celebrating this hidden service.
The copy in our creative set out the challenge and how the prison officer, a trained professional, deals with it. The visuals use prison officers from a range of backgrounds engaging in their work in a social setting. To reinforce this messaging, the campaign also developed creative collateral recruitment toolkits for prison HR Business Partners. The toolkit, which includes posters, banners and leaflets showing trained professionals working as a team with purpose and
pride, have also been used for external careers events specific to different campaigns.
The repositioning of the role and the messaging used in our creative was further implemented through:
Since the launch of the campaign in April 2017, the MoJ is on track to deliver net 2,500 prison officers at a reduced cost. Using PowerBi, the MoJ can determine a list of priority prisons, reviewed monthly, and can upweight campaigns to provide additional support in paid-for advertising. The priority site list was approximately 60 sites in April, and reduced to 17 for the months of February/ March 2018.
We have developed a wireframe that tracks the applicant journey and shows drop-out rates at each stage. We also worked with the data team to establish why candidates drop-out at each stage so as to better tailor our messaging.
Local and national media features have been critical in building a new narrative of what the role can offer candidates. The team supplemented paid for with wider PR activity to drive applications and help build support of close friends and family which, as the YouGov survey shows, can impact applications (see figure 4 ). Although data for PR activity is sporadic and hard to measure, press coverage in local publications, such as Hull Daily Mail,
demonstrate the benefits PR can have in driving applications (see figure 6). Events such as Prison Officer Of the Year have also helped raise awareness of the positive impact prison officers can have.
The innovative approach of this campaign has led to changes in the way MoJ approaches campaign planning and how it approaches evaluation. The success of the campaign has led to greater trust with the business and the same model is going to be used for departmental-wide recruitment, so achieving further cost savings. Learnings from this campaign have led to regular adjustments to ongoing campaigns in the department according to: site/cluster needs; media cost per application submitted; and volume the candidate management system can process.
The campaign has been recognised by the Cabinet Office as one of the highest-performing government recruitment campaigns. Alex Aiken, Executive Director of the Government Communications Service, has praised the department’s overall approach to strategic communications and has described the campaign as a model across government.
Since mid 2017 to date, more than 22 national and local media features have been secured in highly-trusted titles at no-cost (see figure 5). These features are crucial in telling the real story of prison officers to change perceptions of the hidden service externally, as well as showcasing the role to staff when repurposed internally. When we secure coverage
in local media, we see substantial increases in the number of applications (see figure 6). In 2018 we have also started to deploy floodlight tags on PR activity.
Ministry of Justice – Supporting Materials
Ministry of Justice – Digital Communications
Ministry of Justice – YouTube Video
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