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23 May 2008

Construction Ambassadors “Blog early, Blog often” to target youth

Positive Image goes social with online networking

The annual ConstructionSkills Positive Image recruitment campaign is getting smarter, to keep up with the media habits of young people. Moving away from TV adverts and printed media, the 2008 campaign uses social networking site Bebo, paid-for online search terms and banner ads on targeted web sites to reach its audience of 11-19 year olds.

The campaign aims to promote the construction industry as an attractive career; to recruit diverse new entrants; and to encourage applications for apprenticeships and Inspire Scholarships.

Bebo, the so-called ‘Blog early, Blog often’ phenomenon, has more than 12million users in the UK, with over a third under the age of 24 and a large number of teenage users. To reach this audience, Construction Ambassadors – young people working in construction – have developed their own pages, to encourage discussion about working in the industry and give ‘real life’ responses to visitors’ questions.

Adverts promoting a competition to ‘win a Wii’ have been placed around the Bebo site, encouraging users to vote for their ‘coolest’ and ‘ugliest’ buildings. Already, almost 2,000 entries have been submitted, driving traffic to the Positive Image pages and generating debate about what people like and dislike about the buildings.

Nicola Thompson, ConstructionSkills Director of Communications & Marketing, explains more about working with social networking: “Digital media is a very cost effective way of reaching this audience and because we see results in real-time, we can make changes to the campaign based on what’s working. The search sites like Google, MSN and Yahoo, are working really well, sending a significant level of traffic to our careers web site, with over 96,000 visits to either or our Bebo profile in the first two weeks of the campaign going live.

”Using sites like Bebo for our campaign work is a really new area for us, so we’re learning as we go along and reacting to challenges as they arise. Working with our Construction Ambassadors, we have to encourage the really positive discussion threads about working in construction and manage the postings which reinforce the stereotypical views about the industry. The traffic drivers, such as competitions and links from other networking groups, are working well and the level of discussion is growing daily.”

The other key element of Positive Image 2008 uses outdoor media in the form of adverts in phone boxes and on billboards. The young people featured in the adverts are the same Construction Ambassadors featured on Bebo, which also uses the same creative to make the connection across the campaign.

The strap-line “Transform your city, your bank balance and your career”, brings together the opportunities offered by a career in construction with the factors that drive young people when considering career options, specifically:

  • Making a mark on your city and local community
  • The potential to earn good money
  • A long term career with progression routes.

Adverts are now live in areas with high Black and Minority Ethnic populations including the five Olympic Boroughs in London, the West Midlands, Yorkshire & Humberside, Glasgow and South Wales. Images of the buildings in the adverts have been tailored to fit the region, for example:

  • London ads feature the Town Hall, the Gherkin and Wembley Stadium
  • Scottish ads carry images of the Armadillo in Glasgow
  • Welsh ads feature the Millennium Centre in Cardiff

Construction Ambassador Chrissi McCarthy, explains why she is working on the campaign: “The construction industry suffers from an image which is outdated, and it’s amazing how many young people have never really considered it as a career option. I find my job exciting and continuously challenging, and it’s really good to be able to help spread the message and change perceptions. Particularly for young girls who are considering their career options at the moment, it’s important that they see role models who can show their gender is not a barrier to a great career.”

To check out the Bebo profile, visit “ConstructionGirl121” at

For more information, please contact Sara McKinnon on 020 7367 9801 or . Images and case studies are available to support this story.

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