Monday, July 31, 2006

Let's get down to business

I JUST got off the phone with Mabel.

Don’t ask me who Mabel is because I don’t know either.

Mabel was calling regarding an ongoing tiff between a client and an ad agency (I don’t know who Mabel represents), and Marketing happened to write a story on the interesting ad campaign said agency created for said client. What the tiff has to do with Marketing and what Mabel wanted from our conversation, I still don’t know. But what I do know is that there has got to be a time when the industry stops being childish and starts working like professionals.

This is advice from one of the youngest members of the advertising/marketing industry – me.

In the two point five years I’ve been a reporter on the marketing beat, I’ve encountered nearly every good and bad PR approach in existence.

Let’s start with the worst. S******** Consultants has broken perhaps seven out of ten golden rules of PR. The worst was when they periodically sent press releases to our 40-year old fax machine -- which used to play ‘Fur Elise’ whenever a message was coming through. You think my gripe is about faxes as opposed to emails? You’re wrong! The releases were always about the oil/manufacturing industry in China/Zimbabwe somewhere.

How could I forget the times when massive apparel and automobile brands, after an interview with us, ask to see the article before we print. Does The Economist or Time allow that?

Before you start to feel this is simply a bitch fest for me, let me assure you otherwise.

Just before I typed the above paragraph, I got a call from Tarun Deo from Text 100. I had earlier spoken to Aaron Kong from the same agency who was pitching a story on Text 100’s expansion plans but could not give me all the details I needed. He made an appointment with me for the next day to get Tarun to call through and explain further.

Marketing takes care not to write about agencies and how well they’ve been doing in the past year or so, because it’ll just read like an ad – agencies can pay for an ad any time – where’s the objective reporting in that? Needless to say, I was not very keen on the story.

Anyway Tarun called to make the pitch. To cut to the chase, we’ll be writing a piece on the agency’s regional director and her thoughts on the challenges ahead for the PR industry, the changes in terms of client demand, and even peer media – for more, tune in to Marketing’s September edition.

What started as a possible two-liner on Marketing NewsBreak became a half-pager in our print edition. Kudos to the Text 100 team for the perfect pitch – it was relevant, concise, and professional. And no, the agency did not pay a single cent for me to write this.

I could go on but I gotta go take the next meaningless call.

I’ve loved every minute working on this beat. The industry is one mean beast but good PR approaches make the difference and reporters appreciate that – we do!

As we trudge from one deadline to the next, I rest easy knowing that for every lousy pitch there are two good ones and in time, we’ll forget what a lousy pitch sounds like.

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