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From #nextgreatleader to Next Great Leaders

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With a heritage tracing back to 1874, men’s fashion brand Lyle and Scott wanted to represent their brand’s recent successes in youth culture. Turning over £35m a year, and having won Draper’s Young Fashion Brand of the Year Award in 2009, they looked to the next generation of leadership to take the reins of the business.

After the departure of the firm’s Managing Director, business owner Sue Watson wanted to find a unique, digitally savvy and tech-aware individual to fill the position – outside of the usual pool of blue chip fashion executives. It didn’t matter what sector they came from; the only stipulation was that they had to be an authentic leader. Watson’s specialist recruitment team, Beringer Tame, was tasked with using social media to find ‘the one’. The team knew that just posting about the job wouldn’t be enough, so social media was ingrained as a major part of the application and selection process. This was the first time that social media had been used in such a way for such a senior role; it was controversial, but might just work.

On 29th August 2013, @Lyle_and_Scott tweeted:Screen_Shot_2013-11-28_at_10.52.53

This tweet marked the launch of a six week long social media campaign to find the perfect candidate for the desirable position. The theme was centred around ‘leadership’, primarily to generate interest and make the content more shareable, but also to help communicate the sort of person that the team was searching for.

#NextGreatLeader

The hashtag #NextGreatLeader was born, along with an underlying content strategy focused on great British leadership, and heavily integrated with Lyle & Scott’s brand values.

Beringer Tame performed some significant analysis in order to map out the campaign, and ensure that the team was looking in the right places. Identifying content with titles that would be ‘clickable’ for the target – such as “70% of Fortune 500 CEOs aren’t using social media” and “Top 10 qualities that make a great leader” – the team honed in on key influencers likely to be followed on social media by the person they were looking for, as well as relevant media to spread the message and drive traffic to a dedicated microsite.

Once CVs came in from candidates, a select few went onto the second stage, pre-interviews. The screening process required the candidate to create a Pinterest board that described their personality and interpretation of the Lyle & Scott brand, record a six second Vine describing themself in five words, and submit a personalised CV showing no professional experience whatsoever.

The mixed-media approach was extraordinarily successful.

All aspects of the campaign worked together over six weeks to bring strong applicants for the job. With a vibrant submission, former pharmaceuticals executive Philip Oldham impressed at the early stages, and so undertook the vigorous assessment process. Before long, Lyle & Scott had hired their new CEO.

Neo-luddites need not apply

Ultimately, the campaign was launched to forego the ‘dinosaurs’ who would apply for the position, and instead place focus on an individual that felt comfortable putting across their personality through digital channels.

But it also dispelled any myths surrounding social media, such as its inability to be used as a tool for recruiters, and its being better suited to graduate-level roles. Despite popular belief that Twitter is an unfocused way to broadcast information, the campaign was able to target certain users who self-segment according to who they choose to follow. Candidates like Philip Oldham, who were able to use social media platforms insightfully and effectively, would perform well in the role. As a result, of the 95 applications that came in, the vast majority were a strong match.

Sue Watson, owner of Lyle & Scott, commented: “In looking for my new CEO, I wanted to bring fresh leadership onto my board. A lot of headhunters seem to circulate the same short list from job to job and I wanted to look further afield. Beringer Tame understood the brief and delivered a first class process, which resulted in a great hire. They did a fantastic job.”

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