Ad recruitment firm works PR magic

An advertising recruitment firm crossed disciplines and scored a PR coup this week.

An advertising recruitment firm crossed disciplines and scored a PR coup this week.

After TalentZoo, a recruitment website that includes editorial content, posted a column critical of the American Association of Advertising Agencies' Advertising Week, the organization rescinded an invitation for TalentZoo to participate in an AAAA media conference next March.

The disinvitation came as a result of a column written by Dan Goldgeier, titled "Advertising Week (or maybe it's Advertising Weak)," which criticized the week's focus on NYC-centric themes and criticized the week's mascot competition with a sexual joke.

The move to bar the group "surprised the tar out of us," said Rick Myers, president of TalentZoo.

Myers said that the column was just one piece of a website that is "full of ideas on how we could improve the industry."

"We told them 'It's one frame of the entire movie,'" Myers said.

TalentZoo, which does not have any PR representation, set out to counteract the rebuff.

"We thought we fell out of favor for the wrong reasons; it wasn't because of breach of ethics or competency," Myers said. "We had to protect our brand and image."

Myers said he contacted the AAAA, but they reiterated their stance last Wednesday.

Kipp Cheng, AAAA VP and director of public affairs, confirmed a dialog took place. "We were talking to Rick quite extensively and [tried to] come to a resolution," he said.

Myers then contacted Wall Street Journal reporter Suzanne Vranica, who ran with a story on Monday. TalentZoo also began maintaining a running list of the press coverage (including from New York Times advertising columnist Stuart Elliott), sent out two e-mails to its 26,000 subscribers, and offered a written response from both the company and the original author.

By the end of the day, the firm was back on the invite list.

Cheng said it was poor judgment to make the original decision and that AAAA CEO and president Burtch Drake reconsidered after reading the WSJ piece.

"Was it an overreaction? Yes. Could things have been played out differently? Yes," Cheng said.

While acknowledging the power of the Journal piece, Myers said the new media paradigm where news can become self-propagating, was also potent.

"We experienced a lot of support and received about 1,200 e-mails and numerous phone calls," Myers said.

Both sides expressed relief that the situation was behind them.

"We're pleased this came to a positive resolution and they're participating," Cheng said.

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