Marketing lessons from Adam Pacitti, the 'Please Give Me a Job' guy
How small businesses can take inspiration from a jobseeker whose video CV went viral.
We're only a few days in to 2013 and already there's a big viral marketing story that once again demonstrates how powerful a tool social media can be for getting your message out there effectively and inexpensively.
If you've watched any daytime TV, read any newspapers or spent any time on the internet over the last few days you've probably come across the name Adam Pacitti. This is because his story has featured on or in (among many others) Daybreak, BBC 5 Live, Sky News, The Huffington Post, Evening Standard and The Mirror Online.
So, what is Adam's story? Well, he's looking for a job. That's right, just like hundreds of thousands of other people in the UK.
Nothing particularly special about that. The story lies in how he's gone about seeking employment.
Here's what Adam did.
Early in the morning on New Year's Eve he posted a Tweet saying that he was looking for a job. It included a link to his website. He asked people to retweet it.
Two days later, he tweeted a photo of a billboard in Shoreditch, East London, that depicts an image of himself along with his website address and the headline 'I spent my last £500 on this billboard. Please give me a job.'
Again, he asked for people to retweet it. A handful of his followers did so and at the time of writing - 1430 on Friday afternoon - the tweet had been retweeted nearly 14,000 times.
What's more, the CV video embedded on Pacitti's website had had close to 33,000 views on YouTube and he had more than 11,000 Twitter followers.
Pacitti wants to land a job in the media - more specifically a junior producer for an independent production company - but who'd bet against approaches from advertising and PR agencies on the strength of his clear talent for marketing?
The main reason why Pacitti's campaign is so clever is that is a campaign in the true sense of the word. It's something for people to get behind. People admire Pacitti's initiative and creativity and are therefore willing to help him, often using the pithy Twitter tag #employadam. Another big reason is the fact that he hired the outdoor advertising space (suspiciously cheaply, I might add) - the incongruity of which gives a compelling hook for (light) news-hungry journalists and share-happy Twitterers.
Ultimately, however, the CV video is the most important factor in the campaign because it gives people something to look at and "sells" Pacitti in a very compelling way. Prior to watching the video, we can admire Pacitti's audacity all we like, but we have no idea what he is like as a person. Thanks to the video, we can verify that he is engaging, well-spoken, self-depreciatingly humorous and, ultimately, extremely employable.
Although Pacitti has an advantage over many in this respect (he has a background in documentary filmmaking and is clearly no stranger to the camera), what's interesting and noteworthy about his video is that he realises he needs to be its star. He is selling himself to his customer - the potential employer - who will ultimately be making an investment in him, his personal qualities and his expertise.
This is a model that small business owners might follow if they are considering using video to promote their company. A major part of what you are selling is your trustworthiness and your expertise - so show those qualities to your customers. If you can inject some humour into it, then so much the better.
Pacitti has already received some criticism from some people for what they perceive to be a PR stunt - but those people are missing the point somewhat. Of course there is an element of high jinks about something so precisely and expertly calibrated by someone with past success doing something similar, but that doesn't make it any less valid as a piece of self-promotion.
This is the key to many examples of viral marketing: the fact that something is contrived or staged is not only not a problem - it's actually a positive attribute. For example, did lots of peoplereallystart dancing spontaneously and in unison one morning at Liverpool Street Station?
No - and no-one thinks they did.
It was a PR stunt, but the video that documented that PR stunt generated 36 million YouTube hits and goodness knows how many pounds in revenue for T-Mobile. Pacitti's Twitter picture of himself in front of his unusual billboard works very similarly.
So, maybe Adam Pacitti doesn't just wantajob - he probably wants the right job on the right terms. Well, he'll probably get it and he probably deserves it.
It just goes to show what's possible for minimal outlay if you can think of the right idea. There will be another viral marketing story hitting the internet sometime soon - maybe it will be yours.