CareerBuilder Rollout Goes Wide

By: Carl Sullivan

Editor’s note: A condensed version of this story appeared in the Oct. 15 print edition of E&P.

Long before terrorism hit our financial and political centers, newspapers were faced with shrinking help wanted sections. For the first half of 2001, recruitment classified spending was down 33.4%, to $1.42 billion. Now with layoffs rising in the wake of Sept. 11, a further drop in recruitment spending is expected.

What’s a newspaper to do? Well some of the nation’s largest publishers are pushing harder than ever to link print and online recruitment advertising together.

By December, more than 30 of the largest newspapers in the country plan to replace their Sunday employment classifieds sections with new CareerBuilder sections. These new recruitment sections will appear in papers owned by Knight Ridder and Tribune Co. — which each own 47% of CareerBuilder Inc., Reston, Va. While not an investor in CareerBuilder, Dallas-based Belo will have its papers also run the new print sections.

Featuring the local newspaper’s flag along with CareerBuilder’s purple-and-orange logo, the new sections aim to provide well-rounded recruitment services. News stories and features are split 50-50 between national and local coverage. Readers are encouraged to visit the newspaper’s Web site to search for jobs, post resumes, and register for personal search agents that will alert them of job opportunities as they become available. Also offered is CareerBuilder Radio, which includes the streaming audio program WorkWise, covering emerging trends in the workplace.

Even before the Chicago Tribune rolled out its new CareerBuilder section Sept. 30, the paper had already been improving its classifieds section. “The newspaper industry recognized that we need to be more involved in more aspects of helping people finding jobs,” said Owen Youngman, vice president/development, Chicago Tribune Co.

To that end, the Tribune, Los Angeles Times, and Newsday in Melville, N.Y., have been steadily adding editorial content to their help wanted offerings. The CareerBuilder sections employ their own editorial team of three who will cover national stories and provide localized features for each newspaper. Produced by a division of Tribune Media Services, the editorial will include career planning, job advice, job market trends, profiles of local business people, and CareerBuilder polls.

Eventually, all Tribune and Knight Ridder papers will be running CareerBuilder content on Sundays. The exception is Knight Ridder’s Detroit Free Press, which has a joint-operating agreement with Gannett Co. Inc.’s The Detroit News.

The newspaper industry also wants to help advertisers. “We’ve seen throughout 2001 less demand from employers,” Youngman said. “While some of that has moved online, a lot of that has gone away. We don’t want to force a false choice between ‘Do I advertise in my local newspaper?’ or ‘Do I post something online?'” For most advertisers, running ads in print and online makes sense, Youngman believes. “We’re trying to redefine the category — one that’s print and online.”

Charlene Li, research director at Forrester Research in Cambridge, Mass., agrees. “Employers realize that people are looking for jobs in both print and on the Web,” she said. “That’s a powerful bundle to sell to recruiters.”

To make those sales, Tribune, Knight Ridder and CareerBuilder are uniting their sales forces. While some newspaper reps will continue to specialize in either print or online, everyone is “equally capable of selling one or both media,” Youngman said. “At the end of the day, it’s just one sales force.”

Beyond the typical recruitment ad positions, the new CareerBuilder section front features three ad positions that can be sold locally or across a particular region or even the whole country, said Henry Haitz, executive vice president and general manager at the Centre Daily Times of State College, Pa. Haitz is coordinating Knight Ridder’s participation in the project.

Forrester’s Li thinks the project is tremendously valuable for CareerBuilder. “The automatic branding that they’ll get in all of these newspapers is something Monster.com doesn’t have,” she said. Monster is probably CareerBuilder’s top competitor in the online recruitment space.

While many of its dot-com competitors are gone, Monster remains strong — especially after it decided this year to acquire HotJobs.com. Monster’s year-over-year revenues were up nearly 100%, Li added.

In August, HotJobs had 6.8 million unique visitors; Monster.com, 6.4 million; and CareerBuilder, 4.7 million, according to Jupiter Media Metrix of New York. Headhunter.net, in the process of being acquired by CareerBuilder, had 2.7 million visitors.

Tribune’s Youngman estimates that the value of print advertising for CareerBuilder in Tribune and Knight Ridder papers is at least $50 million. And the promotion doesn’t stop in print. Knight Ridder’s Haitz said there will also be TV and radio spots on a six-week schedule in the larger markets. “We’re also looking at over avenues like newspaper polybags and rack cards,” Haitz said.

Tim Lambert, vice president of sales and marketing at Knight Ridder Digital, added that the Real Cities network will run a banner ad campaign promoting CareerBuilder. And participating newspapers with e-mail capability will use that avenue to inform readers of the new services, he said.

CareerBuilder CEO Rob McGovern said the roll out of the print sections will greatly enhance CareerBuilder’s battle with Monster. “The publishers from Knight Ridder, Tribune, and Belo absolutely believe that you have to provide both print and online solutions to customers,” he said. “This is about winning and satisfying employers and not being biased to one medium or the other.”

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