PR Team: In-house staff, Marketing Mix, Fleishman-Hillard and
Time Frame: May to September 2000
Budget: dollars 1.1 million for marketing and PR
Getting offline job hunters to look for work online meant hitting the
streets this summer for Headhunter.net, the second-largest employment
site on the Internet. Calling its road show a ’Surfari,’ the company
hunted down professionals in their native habitat.
PR was an aggressive part of the marketing-led promotion, but it hit a
few bumps along the road. Atlanta-based Headhunter parted ways with its
agency of record, Fleishman-Hillard, in mid-campaign after F-H signed up
Kforce, a competing employment agency. Atlanta’s Creaxion picked up
where F-H left off.
’It’s very easy to reach the savvy online job seeker,’ explains
Headhunter marketing SVP Judy Hackett. But winning over workers who
don’t typically surf the Net means taking the product to the people. So
Headhunter rolled out a convoy of camouflage sports utility vehicles
toting a small village of jungle huts. Job seekers sat on tree stumps to
view the Web site from 18 ’rock’ computer terminals. A four-person team
gave job search advice while handing out prizes and free Internet CDs
courtesy of NetZero.
The Surfari will visit 30 cities in 192 days, focusing particularly on
those in which Headhunter has offices. Online visitors to Headhunter.net
can register to win a Kenyan safari or trips to Busch Gardens in Tampa,
F-H partner Nancy Bauer described the associated PR campaign as a
’turnkey program’ that could be repeated in each city. ’We worked on
getting media to where the trucks were going to be,’ Bauer says. F-H
handled PR in the first half-dozen or so markets before bowing out.
PR operatives contacted media outlets two weeks in advance of each visit
and sent video news releases with b-roll to television stations, Hackett
says. Most appearances coincided with festivals and other events, like
the Byron Nelson Golf Tournament in Dallas and Roger Waters concerts in
Los Angeles. In New York, Bauer says ’tour guides’ drove the caravan to
the sets of CBS’ Early Show and NBC’s Today hoping for chances to mug
for the cameras.
Staff hadn’t yet worked out all the kinks when b-roll and interviews
were shot on the campaign’s first day in Atlanta. Unsatisfied with the
results, Hackett says Headhunter hired Creaxion to produce new footage
in New York and later signed up the firm as its agency of record.
Hackett says Surfari garnered a mention in The Industry Standard. He
also claims that it received television news coverage in a few cities,
though assignment editors at the network affiliates in Dallas, Atlanta
and Austin say they do not recall running stories about Headhunter
during its early tour dates. The promotion got the most exposure on
partner radio stations that produced live remotes or gave away premiums
as contest prizes.
Tallying up ad equivalency and NetZero’s dollars 400,000 contribution,
Hackett says Headhunter has had a dollars 2 million return on its
investment, with several more cities to go. May was the site’s highest
traffic month, with 3.9 million visitors. The Surfari page averaged
20,000 visitors a month with 18,000 sweepstakes entries posted in the
first seven weeks of the campaign.
Surfari tour stops are scheduled through September 2000. ’If it
continues to perform for us, we will continue to support it,’ Hackett
says. Headhunter may add more fall dates in warmer climates or pick up
the campaign again next summer. ’Our job is to kill the Monster,’ says
Creaxion principal Mark Pettit, referring to the market-leading