If you doubt the power of employer PR, here are two words to convince you: Rachael Trigg.

Ms Trigg, a 24-year-old maintenance and repairs hire for Thames Water at its Chieveley Sewage Works plant in Newbury, Berks, appeared in five different national newspapers to illustrate a story about the importance of language in job adverts.

Thames Water, it was reported, had changed the wording of a job ad for the £13-an-hour technician role to transform the masculine coding into a form more likely to attract women.

Words like “competitive”, “confident” and “champion” were ditched and phrases like “we welcome people who want to learn and be team players” were included.

Results showed that applications from women had risen by an impressive 46 per cent.

A good outcome and also an interesting example of using inclusive language, an innovation that, while not universally followed, is certainly widely known.


So why did this story cut through when thousands of other businesses are doing exactly the same thing to ensure diversity?

When analysed, it’s a PR masterclass from Thames Water.

The story was pitched out to coincide with the seventh annual Women In Engineering Day. While journalists can be deeply sceptical of awareness days, they do provide a hook for a story and some eventually start to gain traction.

Thames Water had statistics to show their new job advert had been effective in doing what it had set out to achieve.

The business had sensibly picked a spokeswoman, Lucia Farrance, part of Thames Water’s women’s network, to talk about why the language in the advert mattered. (It seems obvious to select a spokesperson appropriate to the subject matter, but it is surprising how many businesses get it wrong.)

She landed a cast iron key message: “We are extremely passionate about championing the importance and benefits of a diverse and equal workforce. Gender should never be a barrier.”


But above all, the story cut through because of Rachael Trigg.

Wearing a hard hat and high visibility jacket with her arm leaning on an industrial pipe (possibly flowing with raw sewage), she told a journalist: “There might be certain things I can’t do, like heavy lifting, but we’re a team so we help each other out. Women are really missing out if they think a job like this isn’t for them.”

News editors do not have much time to pitch a story to their editor and here was one that could be summarised and sold easily: “A water company changed the wording on its job advert at a sewage plant to attract more women. It’s worked and they’ve hired a young mum. Here’s the picture.”

The result of all this was widespread national coverage, showing that a relevant case study with a compelling image is a powerful tactic.

It also demonstrated that nothing beats the power of earned media for impact in getting your message across.

Interested in seeing what employer PR can do for you? Get in touch: hello@harpswood.com