Specifics Sell. Generalities Don’t.
And People Love to Be Sold. On Tuesday, I flung a pie in the face of Rupert Murdoch’s newest acquistion, The Wall Street Journal, for its cavalier treatment of the trademark fight between the two Hammer Museums. I like Rupert Murdoch. Several timesOctober 2007 By Denny Hatch
In the NewsThe Phone Rings
Denny Hatch: Hello
PR Valley Girl: Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah
Denny Hatch: Could you speak up, I’m having trouble hearing you.
PR Valley Girl: BLAH, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH.
Denny Hatch: Could you e-mail the information? I’m a see guy, not a hear guy. E-mail me at email@example.com.
PR Valley Girl: BLAH, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH
Denny Hatch: Thank you. [Hangs up.]
—Any of several phone exchanges, the week prior to the Direct Marketing Association 07 Chicago Conference
First off, I am a reader and writer. I am not a listener and talker. For example, I have had a cell phone for 10 years and have never answered a call on it and do not know the number. I am not comfortable with phones.
When I start hearing techy terms and buzzwords over the phone, my ears glaze over and I insist on an e-mail.
More often than not, the e-mail follow-up from the valley girl has no hook—no silver bullet, no delicious factoids—to make me salivate enough to do this story.
Instead, it’s usually a bunch of generalities couched in PR babble.
“Specifics sell,” wrote Andrew J. Byrne. “Generalities don’t.”
The Valley Girl-Denny Hatch Exchange
[NOTE: All names have been changed; the e-mails are otherwise as sent]
Date: Fri, 5 Oct 2007
From: Valley Girl
Thanks for chatting with me a little bit ago. Per our conversation, I’m contacting you on behalf of Viral Co., a viral marketing company based in Los Angeles, CA. I’d like for you to consider a viral marketing campaign article recently completed with CompanyT, a web-activated VOIP service connecting people between two landlines or mobile phones. Viral Co. was able to quickly create and deploy a series of strategic, socially driven programs, customized for each opportunity and target audience.
Viral Co. was able to provide CompanyT with dramatic program results and benefits from the viral marketing campaign they created including data on conversion rates, percentage of participants and peer-to-peer invitation participation percentages.
Please let me know if you find this story of interest. I’d be happy to provide you with some additional key detail about this campaign and offer for you to speak with someone at Viral Co. . Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
X Public Relations Co.
I recognized the term VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol or using the Internet for phone calls). But red flags went up in my brain. A number of years ago I got a call from SunRocket offering me the opportunity to create a launch mailing. I did not like the smell of it; they were clearly not direct marketers and the premise sounded like a loser. I turned them down. I was right. From my archive:
Takeaway Points to Consider:*A PR pitch is like a direct mail package. The prospect needs the features (precisely what this thing is) and the benefits (what it will do for my readers—why I should write about it). Not all readers. My readers. I expect exclusivity.
* “Editors are lazy. Give them a story they can use, and they’ll run it rather than going to the trouble of writing something themselves.”
* “You’ve got to read their publications, figure out who they are talking to and then give them a feature story with an angle of interest to their readers and in the style of the publication.”
* “Specifics sell. Generalities don’t.”
—Andrew J. Byrne
*I am not going to take your pie-in-the-sky numbers and print them as gospel. Prove them to me or get out of my life.
* “People love to be sold.”