Live from #London: Plays, Messaging, & Shakespeare
I arrived yesterday morning in London where I have a whirlwind of work, conferences, and fun ahead of me over the next 9 days. As such, I’d expected tonight to be my only bit of “free time” until after HR Technology Europe ends on Friday & decided to spend that time in Leicester Square. Having done the “Big Broadway-esque” show my last visit, I opted for an ‘underdog show:’ Shakespeare’s Double Bill: Queens & The Madness of King Lear. (1)
It was really interesting. I liked both, but for very different reasons. Theatrically, while it seems like it would make sense, it was quite a disjointed experience. From a development standpoint, The Madness of King Lear was much further along than Shakespeare’s Queens: From She-Wolves to Sea Serpents; where a run-down of the Royals of the ‘fairer sex’ that Shakespeare wrote about was given for the squabbling spirits of Queens Elizabeth and Mary. While I appreciated the focus on the dysfunction Shakespeare writes regarding the Royals; there was a serious lack of substance in the messaging by Kathy Perry that fails to knit the original Shakespearean play pieces together. I couldn’t find the point of the play – it started by asking the newly dead bard to settle the question of who was the better ruler: Elizabeth or Mary… but it never actually answered it. Or maybe the answer was that all monarchs suffer from serious narcissism and character flaws? Point being, the lack of clarity resulted in little connection to any depth that might have been hidden in the play… leaving me slightly amused, but unsatisfied.
Would “The Bard” Have Stood For Muddled Messaging?? (I think not… )
How often do we see that in business? I’d argue more than we ought. We create a marketing campaign that’s clever, funny… but the action point in our message gets lost or we forget what we were driving at in the first place. Even in entertainment such as Shakespeare’s plays, the writer is driving you towards engagement with something, in an effort to elicit some sort of emotional or intellectual response in the audience. The same holds true for our employment branding & recruitment marketing: with it, we endeavor to inspire and reinforce loyalty from our current workforce. For our intended recruits, we hope to stir unrest with their status quo, a desire for change and a belief that we could be the answer to their hope for ‘something more.’ In order for that to work, the message within has to be straightforward enough to grasp through the complexity that comes with layering in creative elements; yet challenges the audience enough, engages them enough to draw them in & gain response.
BUT IS ‘RESPONSE’ ENOUGH??
Unlike the bards, those of us in HR/Recruitment marketing are not creating entertainment pieces… but, like the bards, we’re also judged by a “ticket sales” of sorts. Beyond the applause that a playwright’s crew achieve in a theatre, their success is judged by the ticket sales. Sound familiar to the old recruiting adage, “We’re here to put butts in seats??’ The pipelines, talent communities, recruits & ultimately hires our messaging & campaigns produce, it seems to me, is our equivalent.
If I laugh at the funny Twitter recruitment video, is that response enough? NO. Not unless it drives me to do something next that’s related to their goal – attracting candidates. (2) That might look like me going to apply or opt-in to their talent network/community; or it could look like me passing it on to someone else I think might be a better fit/have interest.
Bringing it Back Together: Keeping the End in Mind
That ‘next step’ action has to be our goal when crafting our messages, telling our stories. We have to look beyond what we want to say to how we want it to be received… and work backward from there. One way to do this can be taken from another ‘acting class’ – look at the Hollywood cliffhanger or episodic teaser. The only way you get to know the end of the story line is by watching again. What if we created a recruitment marketing campaign that did the same thing? Gave a little more interesting insight with each step in the process? With each further investment made by our ‘audience,’ they’re rewarded and incentivized to continue on the in the process… Would our candidates be interested? Would Shakespeare approve?
I’m not sure, but it’s something to think about. For now, it’s time for bed… TruLondon’s coming up fast!
(1) Personally, I love Shakespearean plays – though it’s somewhat difficult to find people who want to go watch them at home.
(2) I hear through the grapevine they’re hiring, btw