DIARY: Surreptitious attempt to stay ahead of the opposition comes a Cropper

News reaches me of strange goings-on in the world of personnel.

News reaches me of strange goings-on in the world of personnel.

It started with an irate phone call to Reed Personnel Services’ New

Malden branch. The caller complained that there were Reed documents all

over his front lawn and demanded that someone clear them up. The

offending litter turned out to be a Reed press pack announcing the

redesign of its Web page and the launch of its virtual recruitment


Oddly, there was also a 15-page proposal from PR firm Maureen Cropper

Communications to Manpower, a rival recruitment agency, together with a

memo to Manpower marketing director Ian Herbertson. It read: ‘Our

continuing in-depth research has uncovered the following plans for a

Reed Virtual Reality branch. I thought you might be interested!’

But how did MCC get hold of the press pack?

All became clear two weeks later when the Reed press office got a call

asking for a replacement to be sent to ‘Kate Spratling’ - a name which

was on Reed’s list as a freelance journalist. The address she gave rang

a bell with one of Reed’s press office staff. Sure enough, it belonged

to MCC - where one Kate Spratling is an account manager.

When I put this to Kate Spratling, she told me she had not called Reed

herself although she was aware of the matter. ‘I can imagine what it

must have been about - but I didn’t make that call’, she said.

In fact, according to MCC, the original press pack was sent to a

journalist who had been hired by the agency to do a ‘competitive trawl’

- a procedure which Cropper describes as ‘standard practice’. It was

subsequently stolen from the car of another freelancer working for MCC -

which is how it ended up on Irate of New Malden’s front lawn. The agency

then had to try and get hold of another copy.

So there you have it.

If all this intrigue hasn’t exhausted you, you can find Reed’s web site

at http://www.reed.co.uk and its virtual reality branch at

http://www.luna.co.uk/ gevans/pages/ca.htm.

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