Tuesday, January 9

Missing News Opportunities: TalentZoo

Yesterday, I called Talent Zoo's "press release" a demonstration in communication ignorance, largely because it failed to meet any measurable objective and partly because it was in poor taste. More than anything, it was a missed opportunity that could have captured a few headlines.

No one really cared, except John Cook gave it a comment-less mention, probably because proximity is one of the many ingredients that journalists use to define news. Really, it would not have been difficult, in an industry that estimates more than 50 percent of corporate recruiters have been laid off or reassigned since November 2000, to do a better job.

There is news here. Plain as day. Based on its release, Talent Zoo is one of a handful of recruiters out there that is hiring people instead of laying them off. It's a nice contrast and makes people wonder "What's up with Talent Zoo?"

Except Talent Zoo did not include this in the release. Their communication contrast was between themselves and Jobster. Okay, so they are hiring a few days after Jobster laid people off. Oh yeah, they obviously have a grudge against Jobster, which seems more memorable than the mention that they are "aggressively" hiring 20 people.

The release gets worse before it gets better. Here are a few gems (ignoring grammar and usage errors):

"Talent Zoo’s growth has come largely due to increased employment needs among marketing, advertising, and public relations companies." Translation: We're lucky to have picked the right niche, um, unlike Jobster, who we don't like.

Personally, I would have placed more emphasis on the fact, according to Talent Zoo, that "both job boards and recruiting firms typically fail to offer the services of the other" while Talent Zoo does. Certainly, there is a better way to write this too.

"'Our strategy has always been to steadily grow our business by filling customer needs with superior products and services,' says Rick Myers, founder and CEO of Talent Zoo.” Translation: We lifted this off a thousand other company news releases because it sounds slick, even if it doesn't mean anything.

"Myers attributes Talent Zoo’s success to maintaining it’s self-funded existence rather than using venture capitalist financing to grow.” Translation: The company communication folks attribute the growth to the industry, but Myers does not. He says the reason for this growth is because, er, they are not like Jobster. On the plus side, only a few folks invested in us.

“Myers adds, 'I’m sorry to hear about the misfortunes of Jobster’s staff. It always frustrates me to learn about hard working people who lose their jobs. Talent Zoo is always interviewing and we are always interested in talking with anyone, whether they are fresh out of school, on the unemployment line, or just looking to join an exciting and growing company.'" Translation: I can hardly contain my glee, and, oh, by the way, feel free to call me if you worked at Jobster, but don't expect to be hired because we talk to a lot of people, anyone, in fact.

In all, of seven paragraphs, not counting the cutline, six can be directly or indirectly attributed to Talent Zoo talking about Jobster. Not too bad for Jobster, considering it didn't pay anything for all this name recognition in a release that "pokes fun at" but doesn't do any real damage. If anything, Talent Zoo lost some credibility points and the few that read the release ran over to Jobster's Website to learn more about its new direction or potential sale to Monster, if you want to entertain rumors.

Imagine how much more effective the release would have been if Talent Zoo would have stuck to its news: We're growing in an industry that BusinessWeek says is poised for consolidation. We must be doing something right. Hmmm... if they did that, then maybe, just maybe, BusinessWeek would have been interviewing Myers instead of Keith Stemple.

Who knows? If the release had been written better and gained some traction, then Myers could have slipped in some of his bloodlust for Jobster in a national magazine, maybe even a few, during some interviews. Then he would have looked as if he was just commenting on current news or citing one example of a hundred he could have chosen. Maybe, if he was really prepared, he could have struck a death blow, driving negative Jobster impressions through the roof on national television.

Ho hum. Instead, Talent Zoo's release is destined to become a mere footnote in the annals of The Seattle Times and maybe a brief conversation point on how not to write a release in my class at UNLV.

In conclusion, even if the primary objective was to smack Jobster around in the media, the release still fails. On this measure, I liken it to throwing punches in an empty ring and without an audience. Worse, Myers gave all the advantage to Jason Goldberg. Goldberg can choose to ignore it or toss in a much harder-hitting punch at his leisure. Either way, Goldberg wins.

I dare say, had it happened differently, Talent Zoo may have gained some recognition, made some money, and the recruiting industry's wrestling fans would have been much more entertained.


Rich on 1/10/07, 5:20 PM said...

PR Kudos: Amy Hoover at Talent Zoo for her prompt, professional, and polite response to my invitation for comment. Thank you.

Unknown on 2/7/07, 6:48 AM said...

Their hatred of Jobster stems from the legal battle they had with Work Zoo out of CA. You can read about it here.

How childish and unprofessional.

Rich on 2/7/07, 9:04 AM said...

Hi Will. Thanks for contributing the link that details the finer points legal battle. It's a nice addition.

You are right of course. The irony here is that they looked "right" during the legal battle. But in this case, they looked "wrong" because they won't let the legal battle go, despite winning.

It still amazes me that someone with a good thing going would allow their opposition to have so much power over them. Forgiving and/or forgetting removes this power.


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