It’s true that, although promotional staffing is frequently looked down on in marketing circles, the brand ambassador is one of the few direct points of contact a brand will have with consumers. So it’s certainly vital that agencies select their promotional staff very carefully. But does this mean holding glitzy recruitment events where applicants are rejected at different points across the day – like a TV talent contest? Some agencies think so.
Is this format something we really want to encourage for staff recruitment? Or is this heightened form of search and selection purely a gimmick to impress clients, and best left for entertainment value? To find out, it’s necessary to look at what it really takes to be a brand ambassador.
Sometimes we do get requests for stilt walkers and fire eaters, or people with circus skills. However, these are definitely not the mainstay of promotional work. We require people who are good communicators, personable, approachable and presentable. They need to be able to connect quickly and easily with members of the public, and politely deliver key information about a brand and how it will work for that particular consumer.
We work in a creative industry, and its important to demonstrate this in the way we find appropriate promotional staff rather than simply using traditional face-to-face interviews. But we’re also professionals, and this should be reflected in our approach, too, which should be well planned, rigorous and thorough.
Initial requirements are basic skills and experience. Has the candidate worked on promotions before or been involved in work that requires close interaction with people? Are they a team player, whether that experience was gained in a sports team, as an actor in an ensemble or another relevant scenario. Being trustworthy and reliable are also key traits, so evidence of holding down previous jobs and having good references are important.
Meet the brand
After the usual CV screening and phone interviews, we like to hold group sessions where we tell the applicants as much about Sense as they are encouraged to tell us about themselves. This provides a way to see how they perform in a group setting and if they get along with our team. We also ask candidates to prep a little activity in advance to test their intelligence and creativity and help get to know them in a slightly different way.
Before campaigns, we hold Meet the Brand days where further staff screening is undertaken to make sure we are putting the right people onto the right job. It also acts as an opportunity to introduce the staff to the brand in advance and provides invaluable face-to-face training.
We don’t ask them to sing and dance, and we don’t eliminate them in front of their peers. They might not be right for one particular job, but they might be perfect for something in the future. If they are not right for now, maybe in a few months they will have gained different experience and could apply again.
Being OTT should not be a requirement – in fact, it can be a problem. Promotional staff need to be comfortable interacting with people and create a buzz and excitement about an event – but this doesn’t mean high kicks and songs! Promotional campaigns stand or fall on the ability of brand ambassadors to understand and reflect the brand they are representing, and engage with consumers. This certainly requires confidence, charisma and creativity, but also much, much more.
The top 10 attributes of the perfect brand ambassador:
Dominique Packham is Staffing Director at Sense. To find out more about the Sense Staff team, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org