Showing posts with label talent zoo. Show all posts
Showing posts with label talent zoo. Show all posts

Thursday, May 10

Testing Waters: TalentZoo, a niche recruitment company and job search engine specializing in the communication industry, recently launched a new Web site. On its own, the launch of a new site is not news.

However, there is something a bit unique about this launch. There is a greater emphasis placed on its TalentZoo's Lounge, which seems to test the waters of social media by bringing a mix of company- and industry-driven content into the mainstream. Sure, The Lounge has been alive for some time, but it used to be easily missed as a backroom project.

Now The Lounge takes front and center on the home page with a host of communication industry content (blogs and podcasts) produced by people like Allen Rosenshine, Colleen Barrett, Marc Cuban, and Jim Stroud among them.

Today, I listened to Sally Hogshead's interview with Scott Donaton, the new publisher of Advertising Age and Creativity. Besides an excellent interview that provides an interesting take on industry trends, the audio podcast hints at what could mark the future of business-hosted media platforms. At minimum, it gives the company's target audience a reason to visit the site, again and again. That's smart.

As I mentioned a few months ago to Rick Myers, founder and CEO of Talent Zoo, I still think the real draw will be video over audio on the Internet. Sure, there will always be room for Internet radio, but the Internet seems best suited to be a visual platform. It takes a special kind of personality to keep listeners tuned to an audio podcast, much like live radio. (The Recruiting Animal Show qualifies, IMO, which I may be appearing on next week. Hey Rick, call in!)

There is also something to be said about editing visual content down into smaller segments like WALLStrip. WALLStrip (see some samples on our new Video Shuffle) nails the right content format for them (others might need something different). Not to mention, video provides advertisers better opportunities to advertise as VideoEgg just demonstrated by capturing Motorola product placement on "The Burg."

This does not mean that every company needs to run out and build a social media distribution platform with select content and sitcoms. But what I am suggesting is that there is ample room to develop sustainable, income-generating content on a company site. It can also be done at a reduced cost when compared to buying space on local networks and airing a program that is too long for a relatively small audience.

Local governments might take note: trying to fill a full hour of traditional cable programming with only 10 minutes of real content is too much and begins to look like B-roll. The taxpayers might even thank you for considering smaller Internet-available shows instead, especially as the Internet becomes a permanent part of the cable network line-up anyway (it will).

The bottom line is that there is a very real potential for companies to truly benefit from a social media mix as it exists in the form of blogs, audio podcasts, and video. The challenge is keeping it grounded in the company's communication strategy rather than a "show" strategy.

As for the new site, although it's difficult to find the meat and potato sections (like an "about us" page or "news room"), I think TalentZoo is moving in the right direction. As I told a few recruiters after being told my digital media ideas were laughable — it's laughable until your competitors attract more traffic. I suspect TalentZoo might be doing just that. And once they do, there's very little reason to go elsewhere.


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.

Monday, January 8

Feeding The Animals: TalentZoo

If you ever wondered whether communication ignorance is contagious, visit Talent Zoo. There you will find a news release that attempts to one up Jobster, not at being a better company, but by demonstrating its people lack the most basic understanding of public relations and strategic communication, which is ironic given they serve "communications" executives (they mean communication, but let’s not split hairs). The release opens:

“Award winning niche job board and recruiting agency and former Jobster rival, Talent Zoo has announced plans to hire an additional 20 people in the next four to six months. Talent Zoo’s hiring plans announced today are directly contrary of those declared yesterday by venture capital funded Jobster, who announced it was laying off 60 employees, or nearly half its workforce.”

The need for style and usage edits aside, it seems to me that Georgia would expect more from a company led by someone recently named one of Atlanta's 40 Under 40 Most Promising Young Stars by the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Instead, the Jan. 4 press release (which excludes electronic media outlets, since electronic outlets do not have presses) reads as nothing more than one child thumbing its nose at another.

As much as the lead sentence sets up the news release as an opportunity to show a fair contrast between it and the rest of the industry, the second sentence takes it all away, changing the entire thrust of the release into “let’s show everyone how smug, vindictive, and possibly unethical we can be because the lawsuit we filed in 2005 was not enough.”

After searching for results, the only mention of this release (beyond MediaSyndicate, a news release distribution service) was by Seattle Post-Intelligencer reporter John Cook, who calls it mostly right in saying that “Talent Zoo Chief Executive Rick Myers tosses a few darts at Jobster” in the release. Cook is kinder than a former editor of the Las Vegas Business Journal, who once lambasted a public relations representative for the local Girls Scouts for trying to capitalize on a court ruling over the Boy Scouts.

Now, it’s pretty obvious that I am no fan of the communication savvy or lack thereof that Jobster demonstrated in the midst of its restructuring, but it’s almost forgivable because I have come to believe that Jason Goldberg honestly didn’t know better (he may have, but it doesn’t seem so). In fact, he has since made a conscious effort to improve in this area. But Myers, founder and CEO of Talent Zoo, who gleefully participates in this release offering quotes like “It always frustrates me to learn about hard working people who lose their jobs,” knows exactly what he did. And in addition to being possibly insincere, he knows it was wrong to do.

If we take my first Jobster analogy, that alludes to the sinking of the Titanic, then this release can be likened to the captain of the Titanic's sister ship, HMHS Britannic, saying “I’m sorry to hear about 1,522 who perished in the accident, but maybe they should have sailed with us.”

If Forbes, which once awarded Talent Zoo with "Best of the Web" for niche job boards, doesn’t write this release up as “Best New Release Blunders,” then I hope The Wall Street Journal picks it up because Myers deserves his 15 minutes of fame on this issue. Luckily, most editors filed the release under "amusing, but trash."

Tomorrow, I'll offer how Talent Zoo could have turned this release into major headlines instead of a forgettable heckle; they didn't have to mention Jobster to do it.

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