Murphy's Law

Tom Murphy

Thu, 14 Nov 2002 08:39:37 GMT

Once upon a time, in a sleepy land far, far away from here, there were two public relations companies. One firm was called Silly & Sons and the other was called Clever & Sons.

Both firms needed more revenue and so they decided to look for new business. Silly & Sons spent lots and lots of money on expensive printed material and sent it to every company throughout the kingdom. They then followed up their direct mail with a phone call. When talking to a prospect, let’s call her Ms. Innocent, the firm’s representative, let’s call him Mr. Silly, was told that no material had arrived. Mr. Silly found this hard to believe and told the prospect so. Ms. Innocent reaffirmed that no direct post from Mr. Silly’s firm had arrived. Mr. Silly questioned whether Ms. Innocent had carefully checked her mail. Ms. Innocent had and was sure no direct mail had arrived, and wasn’t too happy that Mr. Silly had insinuated during their conversation that she was a little incompetent managing her mail.

It was all to no avail however as Ms. Innocent didn’t have an immediate requirement for Mr. Silly’s PR services. A couple of days following their call, Mr. Silly’s package arrived – it had been delayed because of insufficient postage. That wasn’t the end however. A couple of weeks later, Mr. Silly sent more direct mail, this time to Ms. Innocent’s boss, Ms. Boss. Ms. Boss forwarded the package to Ms. Innocent who was amused to see Mr. Silly had sent a form that allowed Ms. Boss to rate her current PR campaign and staff and insinuated she’d do better with Mr. Clever’s help.

While all this was going on, Clever & Sons’ representative, Mr. Clever, also sent some well produced direct mail to Ms. Innocent. He followed up with a well targeted e-mail and a courtesy call. Ms. Innocent told Mr. Clever that she didn’t have an immediate requirement for Mr. Clever’s PR services. Mr. Clever was disapointed but finished their phone call by passing on an editorial opportunity he had found while researching Ms. Innocent’s company.

Now I hope you have been listening to our story carefully, because here is a question. If Ms. Innocent has a PR requirement in the future, who do you think she will add to her short list, Mr. Silly or Mr. Clever? Just in case you’re confused it’ll be Mr. Clever. He may not have done enough to win the business outright but he’s certainly on the short list. Poor Mr. Silly will never be retained by Ms. Innocent.

I know I have written this before but it NEVER ceases to amaze me how poorly PR people commuicate. It really beggars belief.

Here’s another examle, a colleague of mine was recently recruiting for a PR position (a unique task in today’s environment) and he received over sixty applicants. Of the sixty, only three took a couple of minutes to find out the name of the person in charge of recruiting the position, and only a couple more did any research on the firm before submitting their application.

If we can’t effectively communicate our (or our firm’s) USPs, how do we intend to do it on behalf of a third party? These aren’t isolated incidents…..nor are they fairy tales.

Written by Tom Murphy

November 14, 2002 at 9:39 am

Posted in General

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