Not just Making Tea
New figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that in October 2013 there were 958,000 young people between 16 and 24 in the UK who are unemployed. That's over double the population of Bristol. That's over double the population of Liverpool. That would fill every premier league football stadium in the UK and still leave over 190,000 queuing outside the door.
And it wasn't new. Figures like these had been put out by the ONS from the recession. There was an urgent need for a comms campaign that highlighted some practical solutions and steps businesses could take to ensure that young people today are employable tomorrow.
Work experience is an often overlooked area in the jump between school and work, and so as the first of our themes for our six month campaign, we decided to focus on promoting its benefits. My line manager and I came up with a strategy together to focus primarily on twitter. With the help of an external creative agency, we would crowdsource stories of great work experience that would be worked into a report published at a later date.
Our creative team, Neo, got started creating a Vine video for us to help publicise the ONS figures, and had already provided us with two more videos based on interesting facts and figures picked from extensive research by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills.
Initially, we sent out a steady stream of tweets with the new figures and examples of how the numbers translated – our second tweet of the day, explaining that there were enough unemployed young people to fill every stadium in the English Premier League with nearly 200,000 left stood outside, later proved to be the most popular tweet of the campaign. These were then followed by snippets of quotes from our commissioners that I'd designed on the issue of work experience, each coupled with an image of full quote which we hoped would make the text more accessible and easier to share. We also visualised the statistics by comparing visually the number of unemployed young people to the population of major UK towns like Liverpool and Bristol. Again I produced designed photos for this purpose, so as to increase sharability
Working in a four-strong team, we scoured our Hootsuite feeds for mentions of ‘youth unemployment’ and 'work experience' we could use, re-tweeting them and responding to provoke as much engagement as possible. This provided us with a steady flow of crowd sourced content to intersperse with our pre-planned messages. We were also on the prowl for anyone with a particularly broad reach or people within the field of expertise – by keeping an eye out for this we managed to interact with a number of journalists, business leaders and industry experts, who all helped to disseminate our message to a broader audience. Ultimately we managed to get mentioned by journalists for the BBC and Metro, as well as numerous careers groups and websites, business leaders, various careers organisations and government bodies.
The use of facts and figures proved to be especially popular, with many of our key ‘shock’ stats topping our analytics for most re-tweeted.
Once we had people’s attention we wanted to get talking about the solutions. What was the ask? We wanted to push the positives of work experience – both for businesses and young people – and highlight examples of the sorts of things going on now. Engaging directly with people on work experience also produced a lot of fun and interesting stories – everything from audio production at the BBC to sticking their hands down horses’ throats!
We witnessed a definite spike in visits to our blogs and website, as well as an increase of around 100 followers. The #notjustmakingtea campaign gathered over 400 contributors, with over 700 relative tweets and a reach of just over 950,000. Retweets and interactions continued from the Wednesday launch through to Friday and were picked up again on Monday thanks to some scheduled messages over the weekend. We are also still receiving mentions in relation to the #notjustmakingtea hash tag over a week after launch.
So, did we solve youth unemployment with a hashtag? Of course not – but if we opened some employers’ minds to the idea or boosted any young unemployed person’s confidence it’s a start.
Our storify (featured right) sums up some of the best elements of this campaign
(The above is an edited version of an article I wrote for Comms2point0)