Chris Edwards is somehow channeling my thoughts. It feels weird, though possibly weirder for him… in
Picture this. You’ve just been told the CEO of your client is flying over for a few days and wants “to meet the local press”. What do you do? Do you find out which particular things this CEO wants to get off their chest, and use those as teasers to encourage people to turn up with questions? No, don’t be stupid, you send out invites like this (I copied out a real one and changed some details to hide where this one came from, for the simple reason that the one that arrived today was no better or worse than any others of its kind.):
Jim Smiggins, president and CEO of Big Software will be in London on June 14th through 16th and would like to meet with you.
Aw, that’s nice, flying all that way and he wants to meet me. Oh wait, that’s a lie. He’s got no idea who he wants to meet. This is a form letter. Don’t get carried away. Actually this is not the problem with most invites of the kind. This next bit is:
The meeting offers a great opportunity to find out more about Big Software, the latest developments in the big software market and the latest products, which are to be launched on June 12th, which are particularly relevant to big-software customers in key verticals such as automotive, industrial and finance.
Fantastic. I can hardly wait. I can go along and get the death-by-Powerpoint on how the company is going to dominate the big software market, or something.
These days, if I want to find out more about Big Software, I can go to the website. What I want to know is why I should care. And that means working out whether readers will care what Smiggins has to say. If it’s just a sales pitch on why big software rocks, that’s unlikely. They too can go to the website.
He gets it just right on how so many PR “pitches” introduce stuff and people that’s not news – you don’t care about them, and you don’t feel like passing any of what they say on.
Personally, I tend to ignore invites like these completely. If someone can explain what is unusual or contentious, that’s more interesting.. or if they could point me to the would-be interviewee’s blog, which might prove insightful, and instantly give me more to talk about with them.
In a related vein, since it’s somehow simultaneously the time of year for pretty much all the below, I might as well point out that I’m completely uninterested in coming to watch (a) football matches (b) rugby matches (c) cricket matches (d) golf matches (e) tennis matches – I used to watch pro tennis as my principal journalistic pursuit, and unless you’re John McEnroe or Steffi Graf, there’s barely anything you can tell me about what’s happening in a tennis match that I won’t have seen 10 or 50 times before, or have asked the winning/losing players (including McEnroe and Graf) a few dozen times myself. With all the others, I’m just not interested. With football, I’m actively uninterested – I’ll make efforts to avoid it.
Though I still await the day when a PR rings up and says “We’re organising a weekend’s rock climbing with our clients in the Peak District/Llanberis Pass/Pembroke – do you want to come and meet them?” Strangely enough, that’s never happened. Not enough executive boxes, I guess.
(Seen at Hacking Cough)