Knock, Knock: Innovative Online Recruitment Ad Personifies Branding

The Roanoke Times/Roanoke.com in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia may just win the award for most compelling and creative use of branding to attract quality job candidates.

In its search for a new executive editor, the editorial team put together a genius video that stars one editor on his quest to find the right person.

The publisher and human resources department wanted to post online ads, and the idea “was really created in my head,” says Seth Gitner, multimedia editor at The Roanoke Times/Roanoke.com.

Gitner took his idea and produced the video in just two weeks, using existing multimedia equipment. With the departing editor leaving — he took a job with Congressional Quarterly — there was a tight deadline to get the job posting out there.

“The key to this is viral; the idea is to post it on blogs and email it out to everyone. The response has been overwhelming,” says Gitner. “All I did was I took out all my business cards and emailed almost all of them this job ad, and it took off like wildfire.”

Seeking Online-Savvy Editor

There is no separation between The Roanoke Times and Roanoke.com, explains Gitner. “We’re a newspaper and we’re online; our newsroom is integrated,” he says. “And we want our new editor to be forward-thinking.”

The recruitment ad begins with Gitner tapping on the monitor and explaining the executive editor position. The backdrop is a traditional classified job section — with the full posting for the executive editor position featured prominently.

“As far as me getting up there and knocking on the screen, that’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while,” he says.

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“There’s a lot of cool sites out there that do it, but nothing for a job recruiting site. I wanted to get up there in clothes I wear to work and be real, talking about the stuff we are doing,” he says.

He also gives instructions on how to navigate the toolbar at the bottom of the page. One link, titled “Who We Want” brings the audience to “live” interviews with writers at the company, a local journalism professor, and a local reader.

The “Job Details” link features the publisher who lauds the “top-notch journalism” and other virtues at the multimedia news company.

Gitner says the HR department has noticed an increased interest among all job postings, not just for the executive editor position.

The Poynter Institute calls the newspaper’s creativity the “coolest job ad ever” and recruiting that “shows you’re serious about getting quality candidates.”

The newspaper’s online job posting on Poynter’s career site offers a link to the destined-to-be imitated multimedia presentation/recruitment ad.

Elaine Rigoli has nearly 15 years of experience managing content and community for various B2B and consumer websites. Elaine has written thousands of business and technology articles and has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal and eWeek, among other publications.

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