Yahoo! hires celeb boutique to promote dating service

SUNNYVALE, CA - With more than 16.3m lovelorn singles perusing dating websites, Yahoo! Personals is not about to sit back and be a wallflower.

The company has hired celeb boutique Harrison & Shriftman for strategic consumer PR. Competition in the singles market has grown fierce as dating websites have realized their services are one of the few people are willing to pay for online. At Yahoo!, 70% of the company's subscription revenues come from four services, one of which is the personals site.

H&S will develop promotions, events, and other consumer PR efforts to help build brand awareness for Yahoo! Personals.

"We felt that Elizabeth Harrison and Lara Shriftman's offices can offer us the inroads needed to highlight our service among top-tier consumer media outlets," said Mark Osako, PR director of Yahoo! Personals, in a statement. "We see H&S as an integral part of Yahoo! Personals' strategic PR efforts in building brand awareness."

Online dating and other personals sites have turned into an incredibly lucrative business. Yahoo! introduced its personals site as free content in 1997, and then reinvented it as a subscription-based service due to its enormous popularity.

The personals category surpassed the business/investment and entertainment/lifestyles categories to become the web's largest paid-content category in 2002, with $302m (£190.4m) in revenue, up from $72m in 2001, according to the Online Publishers Association.

The popularity of online matchmaking is not limited to sites such as Yahoo! and Match.com. Newer sites such as Friendster.com and others that help expand social circles are steadily increasing favor among those whose harried lifestyles leave them with limited options to meet people.

The NY-based firm, Harrison & Shriftman specializes in celebrity events and luxury product launches.

Last year the agency beat out industry Goliaths to become the only PR firm in Inc magazine's annual tally of America's 500 fastest-growing private companies.

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