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The Power of Partnerships

Partnership marketing has become a bit of a buzzword in government communications in recent years, and many organisations are seeing the benefits and getting on board. In his presentation, “Central Government Success Story: Health & Safety Executive (HSE),” at this year’s UK digital communications event, the E-Marketing and Online Evaluation Manager, Gavin Parkinson, shared how partnership marketing has helped HSE spread its message farther and more effectively. HSE

Gavin explained partnership marketing as “developing relationships with organisations we already work closely with and asking them to deliver a message on our behalf. The benefits are that it’s relatively free and can strengthen relationships with partner organisations”.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is an independent regulatory body that ensures health and safety in over five million workplaces in Britain. HSE has a relatively small number of investigators doing work on the frontline, and the rest of the work is done behind the scenes, through HSE’s website and email newsletters, which they call e-bulletins. As part of a small digital marketing and evaluation team, Gavin’s job is to “use technology to communicate with a wide audience, from deep sea divers to office workers”, as he put it.

In order to reach so many different types of people with such a small team, HSE uses a segmented approach to its email marketing, allowing stakeholders to choose from over 100 e-bulletin topics. Over half of its emails are delivered through an automated GovDelivery system that pulls updates from a news and services RSS feed and disseminates them to customers, greatly reducing the team’s workload. The other half are delivered by subject experts within HSE and established partner organisations, who HSE provides with general guidelines and a pre-constructed message.

According to Gavin this partnership email marketing tactic has been very successful for HSE so far. Earlier this year the law requiring businesses to report workplace injuries or incidents was amended, and HSE needed to get the word out to as many people as possible as quickly and efficiently as possible. After setting up a page on its website to direct traffic to and crafting the right message, Gavin’s team asked their partner organisations if they’d be willing to include the message in their next email newsletters. Because all of the links sent out were directed to the same webpage, the team was able to track their efforts, and the results were impressive. There were 24 newsletters sent out altogether, resulting in 53,000 people visiting HSE’s webpage. Out of those 53,000, about a third came from the emails sent by outside organisation partners.

In June of 2013, Gavin and his team were asked to promote a recruitment campaign to hire more health and safety inspectors. Because the advertising budget was so small, “we were pretty much relying on email to deliver the goods”, he said. So, like last time, the team constructed a message with trackable links, sent out a message via the automated system, and asked their partners to include the message in their next newsletter. Again, the results were impressive. Of the 15,000 visitors to the site, nearly half came from emails sent by partner organisations. Needless to say, human resources got a healthy dose of quality applicants.

So how do Gavin and HSE get such great results from partner marketing?

“We always carefully selected the right newsletters for each corporate communication that we send out, so we only bother those partners when their newsletters will have the greatest impact. We explain every time why we need their help and what we’d like them to say, which helps get further buy-in from the partners”.

Gavin ended the presentation on a visionary note, directly addressing the audience of communication professionals at the event, saying “what if we were to develop this partnership marketing approach across the whole of central government and local government. We certainly have the technology to do it, and around me here today is the network of people that could make that happen. Just imagine how many millions of people we could get the right messages to if we worked together”.

Click here to see Gavin’s full presentation.