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Advertising – apparently the cure to a national crisis!

“What care recruitment crisis? They should have advertised the posts, then there would be no crisis.”

Editor of a free local newspaper

More than 500,000 additional care workers will be needed by 2022. The sector currently employs around 4m people, with the average employee age of 50 to 65.

The number of people aged 85 or over will increase from 1.4m to 2.4m by 2027 and then to 3.6 million by 2037.

It doesn’t take a genius to realise that there is huge crisis in the recruitment of carers not only looming, but in the here and now.

Except there isn’t, apparently. At least according to one editor of a free newspaper which shall remain nameless.

“What care recruitment crisis? They should have advertised the posts, then there would be no crisis.”

That was the response when we, on behalf of a not-for-profit organisation which promotes social care as a career option, asked if his publication would carry a news release about the crisis and information on recruitment sessions for would-be carers on his patch.

We politely replied with a clarification. Our client doesn’t directly employ carers, it supports organisations providing care for some of the most vulnerable in our society, we said.

The news release was simply explaining the current situation and urging people to come to an event to learn more about how they could work in social care, we added. They might find a fulfilling new job, we explained.

The response: “Thanks for the clarification, if they haven’t advertised for carers I’m not surprised that they are in a shortfall situation. This doesn’t sound like a crisis, it sounds like the result of not advertising.”

Really? Honestly? Talk about missing the point.

We had to think long and hard about whether to blog on this. As former journalists and editors ourselves, we can’t help but feel like perhaps we’re having a go at one of our own.

As PR professionals, we would never dream of re-requesting that a story be considered. Good journalists know what makes news; what space they have to fill, who their audiences are – and although we’ll try to always make sure our news is relevant, engaging and page-ready – if they don’t want to carry it, it’s their call and we respect that.

But to argue that a shortfall in the number of carers which will be needed to look after our elderly and disabled is down to failing to advertise for staff in this particular paper and then request we never send any other release from our client (presumably he won’t be interested when, for example, their syndicate wins the lottery?) is blinkered at best and downright obstinate at worst.

Local newspapers have an important job to do – and in difficult times for print media, we understand the importance of advertising. But we also recognise the importance of supporting the community a good local paper should be an active part of.

This was not a news story selling anything, or for commercial gain. It was a story about how a local organisation is trying to tackle its regional part of a national crisis. And let’s not forget, in Shropshire, it’s not like we don’t have our fair share of older people who either will need some form of care or already receive it.

Our content is prepared meticulously by journalists with decades of experience in both writing and editing in fast-moving daily news, with the aim that hard-pressed editors can trust it to be easily useable – and we avoid hyperbole and spin. This was valuable content on serious topic, with relevance across the community.

When print newspapers are declining in circulation and scrapping for every last pound of revenue, they do themselves no favours when they fail to see the bigger picture.

This wasn’t one of the papers we work with regularly and it’s pleasing, but not surprising, to note that it wasn’t one belonging to the newspaper groups any of us used to work for!

Of course, there’s a migrant crisis at the moment as well. Perhaps those people should have checked to see if there was room for them before they left their home country? Or perhaps run an ad looking for a new place to live – that way there would be be no crisis. Regardless, the truth is that both this and the care recruitment problems still exist and we’re pretty sure no amount of display ads would have changed that.

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