New digital platform and earned media engagement drives record results for RAPG

10 years since its inception, the Rheem Apprentice Plumber Grants program continues to support apprentices while engaging with new audiences and media.

In 2022, Rheem celebrated ten years of Rheem Apprentice Plumber Grants (RAPG), a yearly program that provides funding for plumbing apprentices to help pay for study fees, textbooks, and building their toolbox.

With acute trade shortages and cost of living pressures, RAPG is more relevant than ever. 

Since partnering with IMPACT in 2020, this essential initiative has seen incredible engagement Australia-wide with apprentices, industry, TAFEs and Registered Trade Organisations (RTOs). Trade, local and metropolitan media interest in RAPG has grown year-on-year, and support from plumbing and training groups and pages on social media has also increased.

Over the last three years, IMPACT has worked with Rheem to hit the grants’ core objective – to invest in the future of plumbing. This overarching goal is achieved by growing awareness of the scheme, and entries to it, through:

  • Developing and sharing content about the grants that communicating the value and impact of the grants 
  • Reinforcing relationships with plumbing companies and apprentices
  • Connecting with TAFEs, RTOs, industry associations and merchants

IMPACT used three key pillars to ensure Rheem’s contribution to the plumbing industry received maximum engagement with apprentices, plumbing business and training organisations, and media.

Drive entries though digital-first engagement

Enhancing the applicant experience year-on-year is a key pillar of the program; to encourage participation, streamline the process and improve engagement with applicants.

In 2020, IMPACT moved the application process online, resulting in an impressive 75 per cent increase in RAPG entries.

In 2022, Rheem and IMPACT continued to improve the digital process, integrating AwardForce software into the program. The software provided significant functional improvements for users, including the ability to save application progress and reminders for completion, as well as insights to support project management. 

2022 saw another increase in applications, and AwardForce reporting capabilities uncovered some interesting results:

  • 56 per cent of grant applicants were mature-aged apprentices
  • 42 per cent of completed submissions needed reminders to finish their applications – including five of the ten grant recipients!

Build brand loyalty at the grass roots

Connecting with apprentices through TAFE and RTOs is a critical element of the success of the RAPG program. The campaign timeline was designed to fit the TAFE term calendar to ensure maximum engagement, and utilised student-facing content that was shared with 60+ TAFEs and RTOs. 

IMPACT and the Rheem sales team reached out to TAFEs directly, and Rheem hand-delivered printed posters in a coordinated touchpoint activity to build relationships.

The 2022 campaign also used targeted social media outreach to share RAPG messaging with interested audiences, including 50+ Facebook groups and pages, across plumbing, TAFE, RTO and industry, with a reach of more than 700,000.

Building on the success of organic influencer engagement in 2021, IMPACT partnered with plumbing and trade influencer, Aimee Stanton, to develop stories and reels about the campaign on Instagram, and created boosted campaign posts for Rheem’s Facebook page. 

Rheem Facebook RAPG posts garnered over 5,000 clicks, nearly 7,000 users engaged with the content, and page reach grew to 116,000.

All content spoke to the benefit of the grants, and Rheem’s dedication to the plumbing industry, seeding brand loyalty with key target audiences and stakeholders.

Share stories at scale to prove relevance

Sharing RAPG stories across trade, local, metropolitan and national media is a key part of each year’s campaign; to encourage participation and celebrate the recipients.

In 2022, IMPACT achieved a 40 per cent increase in tier one media coverage, highlighting stories that proved the relevance and timeliness of the grants. 

RAPG was featured in The Age, the Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian Financial Review, Brisbane Times and The West Australian, and secured a spot on the coveted Studio 10 couch.

One key media story centred on Jacquetta Jackson, a mature-aged apprentice plumber and single mother. Jacquetta, along with two other female grant recipients, spoke about the move towards trades in light of skill shortages, the challenges of entering a male-dominated industry, and their passion for plumbing. 

Media cut-through was achieved across the length of the RAPG campaign – from the application opening date to announcement of winners – and targeted both local and national news. 

Overall, the campaign had a reach of 27.1 million in media and third-party social media.

10 years on, the Rheem Apprentice Plumber Grants are stronger than ever.

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