Posted by: Ian Ross | March 18, 2008

Brit Army’s PR Recruitment Plan Misfires

The British Army is spending £2 million on a PR campaign to boost soldier recruitment. However, its plan of attack appears to have misfired.

The army’s recruitment office launched the ‘To The Best’ campaign to reverse sagging recruitment numbers. According to the Guardian, “the shortfall in armed forces personnel was 5,850 in April this year. In particular, infantry battalions are running short. The UK is the only EU state to recruit 16-year-olds.”

The campaign is focused on building public support for troops. This includes a website where people can go and post positive videos, messages and audio to the troops.  Only 30 posts have been made in the past month. There is also a series of television ads spotlighting soliders’ valour. 

Public support for soldiers is already high (87 per cent). So why are they spending big bucks to reinforce an already strong opinion? How does a broad appeal for troop support help recruit more young men and women?

I would think a targeted campaign aimed at 16- to 25-year-olds would be better suited. Social media perhaps? The army’s website message board seems about 10 years out of date and lacking any motivation to engage young adults.

Even worse, the army is taking friendly fire for the PR campaign from the British public and media (see here, here and here). There have been several recent war casualties blamed on insignificant equipment and weapons. So questions have been quickly raised on why money can be found for a PR campaign, but not essential protection for soldiers already in the war zone. 

It appears the British army’s PR plan has left them on the defensive at home and not on the offensive in the Middle East with more soldiers.

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