How do you stay positive in challenging times?

When Rotherham Children and Young People’s Services approached us to help them with their recruitment marketing, we were struck by the nature of the challenge. Their brand was so damaged by negative publicity, it had become extremely difficult for them to recruit permanent Social Workers.


While so much at Rotherham had improved and changed, their recruitment efforts were overshadowed by what had gone before. To overcome this challenge we had to develop an honest and inspiring employer brand that would communicate their ambitions in the face of adversity.

Specifically, we needed to define and articulate their Employee Value Proposition, communicate their steadfast commitment to becoming child-centred and invite the right people to help them shape a better future. We would then create a recruitment campaign inspired by this. We focused on the most senior appointments first, working through the hierarchy, in the knowledge that strong leadership would add to the attraction strategy.

How can creative campaigns change perceptions and offer real hope?


By interpreting insights gathered from focus groups with Social Workers and attending ‘values’ sessions with employees, we gained a deep understanding of the service’s rapidly changing culture.

We also held a workshop with key internal stakeholders to determine audience segmentation, messaging, brand personality and tone of voice.

There was no doubt that the service had a strong vision, a clear strategy and had implemented significant change.

They now required a strong commitment from those they were looking to join them to help achieve their ambitions. This inspired the creative concept: “We Will. Will You?”.

Once the creative expression of the employer brand was agreed, we moved quickly into action.

Our first priority was to develop an integrated campaign plan for the Deputy Director role. This involved a short burst of activity over three weeks, which we optimised halfway through. We also created a landing page especially for the role.

Building on our momentum, we extended the employer brand and its assets, applying it across all recruitment communications.

The visual style was broadened to reflect the service’s values, and the campaign was developed to work for diverse, role-specific audiences. From here, we created a careers site − developing strategy, design, content and copy in partnership with an in-house build team. This included a video animation that brought their Employee Value Proposition to life.

Not least, we developed an integrated campaign plan and created all the elements needed to activate it.

Our plan was optimised based on what we had learned so far, and contrary to the sector’s conventional thinking, we opted for an online−only approach. This cut their media spend by roughly half.


It has been fantastic! Emperor have been great in how they bought into the nature and challenges of this work. They’ve invested heavily (with us) to ensure a positive outcome. Emperor led us through quite a journey and an educational transformation. It’s been a 100% success.

- HELEN LEADLEY / Commissioning Officer, Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council

Our initial campaign for the Deputy Director role quickly led to the appointment of a talented and highly experienced candidate. To date, 17 Social Workers have been recruited, along with four service managers and three Heads of Service. Rotherham will continue to invest and nurture their growing permanent workforce, laying solid foundations for their future.  While in financial terms, Rotherham made a £756,000 saving on employee expenditure in the first 6 months of the campaign.

The employer brand will continue to support Rotherham’s recruitment efforts and inspire the workforce, reinforcing their shared vision. Through our campaigns, the service’s ambitions to become child-centred and be perceived as delivering an outstanding service are being realised, step by step. We’re proud and honoured to help them achieve their goals.


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