Danny Bradbury took the time to shoot a well thought through response to my ‘PR is so over‘ rant. (And thanks to all who agreed or not, often making reasonable points.) It suddenly dawned on me why I was saying what I was, which goes way beyond my ire at the PR industry. Rather than post a long comment, it goes like this:
@danny – you are very charitable but then your writing remit is much broader than mine. I’ve come to the realization that I don’t really want to be pitched. Mostly. I don’t need to be because most of the time I’m generating my own stuff as a blogger, not a journalist of record even though many PRs don’t know the difference.
Surprisingly, it’s far easier and quicker for me to deal with the Twitstream than it is any email and holds the potential for some real innovation. I pointed this out to a client yesterday when discussing e-book formats and how my Twitter followers came up with half a dozen ideas in less than 5 minutes. All goodness and validation of Laura Fitton’s view of the medium.
What’s happening in my world goes something like this: “I see you’ve been writing about XXX and I would like you to introduce you to….” followed by: “I just wanted to check in and see if you got….” and then “Tomorrow is really the only time YYY can talk to you…” It’s wasted time and effort as it’s mostly tangential to what I am really trying to get done. The client is paying for this effort and I’m paying in attention. Since the attention economy is so valuable, I have to be selective where I pay out.
At one time I tried to be polite and respond saying: “Thanks but I don’t have an interest in that area” or pass on to colleagues only to find most of them had been spammed as well.
After a while email management became a nightmare and yesterday came the point where I realized we have better ways to do this stuff. Admittedly the catalyst was a particular piece of PR dopery for which I sent out an email to that firm’s CEO entitled “Your people are asswipes.” PRs have been on about these new tools for a while. If that’s the case then use them rather than keep blowing smoke up my ass.
And yes, I am becoming intimately acquainted with my spam filter.
If people want to know what I’m about then my About page is reasonably well updated. As for feature lists – no way. Those days are way gone for me. I haven’t put out a pitch call in at least 5 years. Why would I do that and then lose the element of surprise followed by the inevitable “Why didn’t my client get mentioned…” emails? In any event – what’s google for? Run a search on ‘howlett + ???’ and if you’re relevant you’ll see it in the searches. Why should I have to do the work when it’s already been done?
I guess what I am really saying is that the world has changed for me. My days as a news hounding, analyzing hack are over and have been since shortly after 9/11. I’m in a couple of narrow foci and most the time know where I need to go to find out the stuff I need to know. My network is incredibly efficient at keeping me abreast of those ‘must know things’ and is way smarter than any PR. Mostly.
It’s a different world. My network wants to get an understanding of what the real world is like, not what a PR wants me to regurgitate. In the coming days, my immediate Irregular network will be fielding briefings that we have self organized. The smart people in the industry know where the influencers are and where they’re unsure can call on us to help find them. It’s not a numbers game but an opt-in arrangement. That’s all goodness.
To the more general point about email, I’ve been following Luis Suarez on this topic for months. At first I thought he was mad but then so many people I know say that despite best efforts, they’re drowning in email. I know their pain.Guess what? He’s presenting on that topic in the Netherlands this week. Good for Luis and inspiring. He works for IBM, one of the most email driven companies in the planet.
All of which makes it far harder to get me interested in what vendors are saying but that’s OK too. My readers are way too smart to be fooled by pitches dressed up as blog posts. They deserve better. So if I can move the needle a tiny fraction and get those who want my attention to become inventive and innovative then I’ve done my job. That requires taking a position. It isn’t the first time and won’t be the last, but it sure as heck is getting attention. All goodness.
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