I had a delightful lunch yesterday with one of our first employees. After marriage, she and her husband moved to Atlanta where she went on to a great corporate career (even became a client), then went on to raise two great kids and now that they are all but out the door, she’s started her own firm.
Talking about the good old days and about how much the business has changed, she stopped me and said, “No … it really hasn’t changed all that much. It’s just that a lot of people are out there selling the things of public relations instead of the relationships.”
As an independent practitioner, Pat Check’s Latitude 34° Company Communications is built on the promise of “taking your message in the right direction.” We always tell clients that first and foremost public relations is about their message, so it is nice to see one of our “alums” staying true to that philosophy.
But Pat said something else. “I think of you all the time when I’m meeting new clients because I remember when we’d go visit a prospect you always started with a conversation … getting to know them and showing that you’re really interested in them. It is still about that … relationships.”
Flattering, for sure … but Pat’s right. It hasn’t changed. For all the shiny balls of communications technology that roll around the table every day, this is still a business of, by and for relationships … and you can’t build them if you don’t get the message firmly in place from the outset.
Those who know me can attest that I have a pretty colorful vocabulary, and while I’m not necessarily proud of the fact that I have a tendency to swear perhaps a bit too often, I have no problem telling you that I have no words to describe how offended I was by an email that I received today with this bit of art embedded:
At the very least this is an exceptional example of not being familiar with your audience, but since this is just an email blast, it goes way beyond that.
If you don’t know your audience, you can’t tell whether they’d be offended by the kind of language we blacked out above because we didn’t want to offend anyone.
I sent this response to Elissa Jane Mastel, who lists herself as chief marketing officer of Chill Media North and uses the unique email address “firstname.lastname@example.org”:
“Elissa Jane … I find your email highly offensive, socially unacceptable and downright stupid.”
Actually, it goes way beyond stupid … and, clearly, they didn’t care who they offended.
I’m probably going to get a lot of hateful commentary on this post, despite the fact it has nothing to do with what will likely inspire anger from those who have long wanted the Washington NFL franchise to change its name. I won’t discuss how I feel about that issue, but I will warn you that some of the discussion may offend some readers.
Hopefully you get the point, but for more on this I offer here the results (about 6 million items) of a Google search for “offensive trademarks.” This is a slippery slope that has implications far beyond the obvious issue driving this specific case.
Like many other debates in our society, I see those as first amendment arguments and I always come down on the side of protecting free speech and expression, and believe the real solution is better parenting. The issue taken before the patent agency judicial body similarly seems to me a socio-economic one.
I don’t buy FAT bastardTM cabernet (I’m sure they miss my money because I buy a lot of wine), and I’ll bet the owners of that team in Washington would miss the money that would come from those who speak with their wallets when offended.
My business partner Kimberly Taylor wrote a great post yesterday about gatekeepers, the important role they play in any sophisticated business environment and why, when selling, you should take them into account as you develop a strategy.
When I received this annoying email:
How have you been? Just checking in with you to see how business is going. If you’re still looking to grow your company or looking for ways to acquire more customers, email or call me and I can get you taken care of with some new customer acquisition info for your industry.
Mark (name deleted to protect the guilty)
I thought how badly we need more than a spam filter to serve the same role in a digital world. I don’t know Mark from Adam, never asked to be on his mailing list and resent him invading my space … much less starting out with “How have you been?”
Making me use your “unsubscribe” button takes time and it makes me want to never do business with you. What ever happened to creative selling?
I get it. We all use keyboards. We don’t phone each other. We text each other. It doesn’t matter if they write in pretty cursive. Let them use block letters. And even though our tablets allow us to “write” with a little rubber tip on the touch-sensitive screen, you can convert it to any font you like … including half a dozen styles of script.
I should hardly care, I suppose, given that my handwriting – which my mother once called beautiful – went to hell in a hand basket during my years as a reporter where rapidly scribbling notes on a reporter’s notepad was considered one of the most important skills of the trade.
The history of handwriting goes back well before Shakespeare, and you have to doubt that we’d have developed all the fonts you can choose today on your computer if society hadn’t found beauty in the flowing ink of a quill and the development of italicized styles during the Renaissance.
But, ladies, tell me … when he brings you roses, do you want the love note he scribbles on the card to look like this:
Not sure whether I loved this or hated it, but I have to admit this JetBlue ad layout (snipped from the Orlando Sentinel’s online edition) stopped me in my tracks this morning. I can’t remember ever seeing a newspaper rate card that offered to let me carve a hole in the middle of editorial space.
There’s no doubt it is eye-catching. But when I went to clip it for this post, I couldn’t remember who the advertiser was … just that it made reading my newspaper this morning difficult.
Unfortunately, I didn’t learn much about why people decide to hang it up when they hit that magical age we were told is time to retire. It did, however, tell me that people who retire contribute less to the economy … so I guess I’ll be doing my part if I keep working.
But if I had to venture a guess, I’d say that those who retire the minute they can collect Social Security and Medicare benefits do so more because of the lack of a challenge at work than the promise of more fun at home with guaranteed income and health care.
If you love what you do, the thought of giving up the satisfaction of accomplishment is scary … not to mention that at home my real boss has a “honey do” jar that would motivate anyone to stay working.