CAMPAIGNS: Community Relations - Parties in pink link workers and firms

Client: The Hired Guns (New York)

Client: The Hired Guns (New York)

Client: The Hired Guns (New York)

PR Team: In-house

Campaign: Pink-Slip Parties

Time Frame: July 2000 - ongoing

Budget: Pro bono, but estimated at dollars 132,000 per year



As the number of laid-off dot-com employees increases, so does their need to meet recruiters and employment agency staff. What is the best way to make sure recruiters and the unemployed cross paths? The answer: pink-slip parties.

Allison Hemming, founder of The Hired Guns, an interim talent agency that matches freelance publicists, PR consultants, marketing communications specialists and event planners with short-term projects at media and entertainment companies, started to hold monthly pink-slip parties in New York City last July. Since then, the events' popularity as a way for hundreds of former dot-com workers and sympathizers to mingle and network has risen sharply.



Strategy

Hemming decided to throw pink-slip parties after holding a successful affair for former co-workers at POV magazine, where she had been marketing and Web site director before it went under in early 2000. By the spring, as dot-com layoffs began multiplying, she realized the party formula could help others and generate interest in her newly founded company, The Hired Guns.

To keep costs minimal, Hemming recruits sponsors. She says she only accepts those who will provide products, rather than taking companies' money.

Sponsors have included Guinness, which supplied free rounds of beer at the last party; Sony, which provided MP3 players as prizes; and Westlake Internet Training, which donated three, dollars 1,000 training packages for the holiday pink-slip party.



Tactics

Most of the publicity for the parties has been generated through e-mail notices and word of mouth. 'I haven't written a press release,' says Hemming.

'This defies all logic of what I know of the media.'

Media keep coming back to cover the events because the uncertain economy means the story changes from month to month, she explains.

'I try to work with the press and understand their needs,' she adds.

'I try to fit people into the story - not me or my company - and the benefits are residual.'

Hemming sends regular e-mails about events to former dot-commers, the heads of human resources departments and recruiters. She posts the information on The Hired Guns Web site and makes sure the events are mentioned in several Internet news groups.



Results

Since she began throwing the parties, attendance has grown from about 30 people per party to nearly 450. Hemming has also seen an increase in the number of freelancers in her database. '(The parties) have positioned me as an employment authority,' she says.

The event has generated about 102 print hits, including articles in The New York Times, London Times, Newsweek and Fortune, as well as 23 broadcast hits, including coverage on NBC Nightly News and Good Morning America.

In addition, recruiters and the unemployed are making important connections.

'I have success recruiting people at these parties,' says Jessica Shevitz, a career coach and recruiter.



Future

Hemming will throw the monthly parties until there is no longer a need for placement of dot-commers.



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