Another day, another brutal murder of a public relations person’s pitch. Actually I killed two yesterday: one on the phone and one by email.
I’m not talking about the poorly-targeted piece of nonsense that told me about sales of “sex robots” in the UK – wrong sort of technology for my market I’m afraid. Nor any of the other irrelevancies: if you want to tell me which beer goes better with a barbecue that’s fine, just don’t expect me to write anything as I’m focused on technology and business.
No, these could have been relevant but I scared them off. And I did it with one question.
Ask yourself this first
The question was simple. Without disclosing any details of the pitches – it wouldn’t be fair – I asked the first person by email, “which of my outlets did you think this would fit into”?
That was 10.00am. By 5pm there was no response and I realised there wasn’t going to be one.
Later the same day I was in a supermarket and the phone rang. Hello Guy, is it a good time to talk, they asked: well, I’m in Sainsbury’s, I said…they laughed and carried on regardless.
(Mental note: PR people always think I’m joking when I say I’m in a supermarket, driving or whatever. Must be the way I tell them).
So she pitches – and I say: I’m not sure which of my outlets this would go into.
She falters, stammers, says “OK, nice talking to you” and goes away.
A question is not a dismissal
There may well have been something in the story or stories, I’ll never know. The thing is, I’d have been pleased to read and listen if they’d actually answered. Someone might well have noticed something about the publications for which I write that had escaped me, and if I end up with a commission that’s great – it’s how I earn my living.
Unfortunately they hadn’t thought through to the obvious questions. “Who’s it for” doesn’t just mean the journalist, it means think about the reader. If either of those people had given the matter any thought they could have come straight back at me, to our mutual advantage.
I can’t see that either of us has won as it is.
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