PRs keep talking: Metrics just don't tell the full story
An ex-journo colleague tells me hacks don’t like sterile working conditions. They hate the silence of the office and the fact that PRs collude in that silence by doing everything by email or Twitter.
Apparently, some PRs actually try to drive more conversations onto email. One journalist, I shall refer to him only as Pint of Guinness, outlined his biggest gripe with modern PRs. “After I’d spent two minutes explaining something to this girl, she asked me to type it all out in an email for her.”
So the one moment a journalist actually phoned this ‘bunny’, she managed to turn that into a negative experience.
Journalists like speaking to people. OK, they don’t like fielding cold calls any more than you like being mugged by charity huggers. But when they do actually try to speak to you, make the most of it. That’s the PR equivalent of saying to your best customer, ‘tell it to the call centre’.
We’re human beings, not some wretched half man, half desk hybrid. People like talking – even journalists. Just don’t use up all their goodwill by making cold calls.
One journalist – whom I shall call Kronenbourg – told me the mischievous revenge he has devised for cold callers. At night, he sends a text to the landline of the annoying company. When nobody answers, BT translates this text into an automated voice. When the PR plays back the message the next day, the robotic voice says something like this: “Hewow. Pwease never call me again about your pwess welease.” As a mobile phone reviewer, he’s got unlimited texts too.
What he doesn’t realise is that PR companies metrics (compiled by a junior) will record these responses as a hit. That’s my other bone of contention about digital PR. The metrics don’t tell the full story. The obsession with measuring everything can drive you nuts. Especially when it’s applied to something as complicated and nuanced as human interaction. We should trust our instincts. You won’t get tone of voice and body language into an emoticon.
Meanwhile, PR automatons everywhere are confident they are winning the war on the human condition. All their metrics are telling them so. It’ll all be over by Christmas, they say. We humans should surrender now, they have us surrounded.