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The 5% Club

  • 5% Club | PHA Media
  • 5% Club | PHA Media
  • 5% Club | PHA Media
  • 5% Club | PHA Media


Question: How do you tackle the issues of youth unemployment and the chronic skills shortage in the UK?

Answer: Launch a nationwide campaign targeting businesses to take on the problem themselves.

The 5% Club is the UK’s first ever business led initiative to increase the amount of apprentices, graduates and sponsored students in the UK workforce within 5 years.

The campaign, assisted by PHA Media’s PR expertise from launch to present day, began with six companies: QinetiQ (founded by then CEO Leo Quinn); Babcock; Renishaw; MBDA; Atkins, and Airbus Group.

It now boasts more than 100 organisations across a multitude of industries which have pledged to meet and maintain a set level of apprentices and graduates within their organisations.

This reflects a commitment to employ in real terms, for at least 15k, 16 – 24 year olds year-on-year within these companies.

Organisations which have joined since launch include Balfour Beatty, KPMG, Vision Express, the Ministry of Defence, Pinsent Masons, Siemens, Lockheed Martin and Manpower.

Client Objective

PHA Media was trusted with the task to create and then execute the 5% Club media campaign.

Initially, our role was to ensure the launch created a noise which would be heard by CEOs of other companies. The ultimate aim was to create momentum in order to attract as many companies as possible to join forces with the founding members which would pledge to increase their intake of apprentices and graduates so they made up 5% of their workforce within a 5 year time frame.

This would help ensure a pipeline of talent and skills benefiting the economic growth of the country, while also creating a real demand for jobs for young people.

Our overall aim was to launch and then maintain, through daily activity which was aligned to the wider strategy, an integrated B2B PR campaign targeted at businesses and business leaders. As part of this process we established a website with FAQs, outlining the goals of the campaign.

We also wanted to target high level national media outlets and the business trade press to generate exposure and maximum possible impact. Establishing strong social channels was also a key aspect of our strategy both as a way of engaging new members and making our audience aware of developments and successes.

Strategy and Implementation

The overall strategy was to tell the story of The 5% Club through various media read by CEOs, HR professionals and other executives within companies, both large and small. PHA Media worked with the founders to ensure an impactful launch through broadcast, online and print media, and through various Social Media channels.

The story was broken in the Financial Times along with a letter from the founding members. We followed this up with coverage across the broadcast media (highlights included BBC Breakfast and Radio 5’s Wake Up to Money).

PHA placed targeted articles with former QinetiQ CEO Leo Quinn outlining why the business community must address this problem. We also targeted national events such as 2015 Apprenticeship Week to create a strong news hook for the campaign

For the 1st anniversary, we commissioned a survey with YouGov and developed an infographic on SME attitudes towards apprentices and graduates – this resulted in strong pick up in the business media and an exclusive with the Sunday Telegraph Business section.

We developed stories around new members joining to create a sense of momentum – for example the Ministry of Defence signed up the story and generated national coverage. Highlights included BBC Breakfast, The Daily Mail and Sky News.

We established a strong digital footprint for the campaign – consistently creating fresh content for The 5% Club microsite/ blogs page (including case studies and thought leadership pieces).

Results and Evaluation

The media campaign was awarded the Best Public Relations Campaign at the B2B Marketing Awards in a ceremony held at London’s Royal Artillery Club in October 2015, beating some honourable competition. This achievement was to recognise superb results for the campaign over a sustained long-term period.

By the time of the 2nd anniversary, the campaign had achieved 50 pieces of targeted B2B coverage reaching an audience of over 25m. The 5% Club social channels have achieved 7 million impressions to date, with around 10,000 unique views to the blog site.

With each burst of coverage or project contained within the wider campaign, The 5% Club saw uplift in applications for membership. At the time of the award they had 130.

Thanks to the 5% Club there is now a growing collective movement for industry to recruit, train and nurture young people – there are regular HR director meetings amongst the members, quarterly meetings and discussions around regional subcommittees.

The campaign has attracted recognition from Government. Minister Matt Hancock told how he welcomed the “galvanising effect that The 5% Club is having on employers in this country in addressing the conundrum that allows youth unemployment to exist with a chronic lack of skills opportunities.” He also congratulated members for pledge they had each made.