SAN FRANCISCO: Bay Area institution Craigslist has built its name and loyal following on little more than word-of-mouth and buzz.
Now the online classifieds and forum site is looking to PR to help improve its media relations and build its presence in other markets.
The company offers classifieds in 41 markets on everything from jobs to personals, as well as dozens of forums. The bare-bones website has a huge following in the Bay Area, with a growing presence in New York and Los Angeles. But with the recent news that eBay has acquired a 25% stake in the company, Craigslist's profile has been raised substantially.
"We don't advertise or promote our site," said founder and chairman Craig Newmark. "We rely on word-of-mouth. And the press has been pretty kind to us. But while doing this, sometimes things fall between the cracks. And in a couple of cases, we've dropped the ball completely." Elaborating, Newmark said he was referring to not getting back to writers as quickly as he'd like.
"Writing and storytelling are important to me personally," said Newmark. "I have a personal commitment to doing the right thing by writers."
President and CEO Jim Buckmaster added that media relations will help the company respond in a more professional manner.
PR help is coming from Best PR. Founder Susan MacTavish Best is a friend of Newmark's.
Best said she wants to promote Craigslist as not just a place to find jobs or sell items, but also a source of information, such as travel tips. Along with the 41 US markets, Craigslist has listings for three Canadian cities, as well as London.
Best said she also wants to position Craigslist as a resource for the media and a barometer of trends, such as increases in job postings for specific industries.
"There are so many great uses for Craigslist that people aren't aware of," said Best. "They've never really done anything to promote themselves. Luckily, it wasn't hard to convince Craig."