I’ve got an RFI out at the moment for a story on how small businesses can create more constructive relationships with IT service providers. It’s an issue because small businesses find it hard to understand why they pay high hourly rates for services companies that never seem to actually stop their computers from breaking down or catching viruses. This means they are reticent to invest in IT, which hurts their growth prospects as they keep throwing people at the problem.
A large number of organisations are trying to fix this by moving beyond the kind of service delivery a small services business will evolve and putting in place a full-strength field service back-end and then applying a shiny, happy layer of franchise-style service over the top.
The RFI explains this, in a little less depth to be fair.
Yet yesterday, the RFI prompted this call:
PR: Hi Simon I am Kate from PR company X
Me: Hello Kate, have we met?
(I find it bizarre that someone I have never met can be so familiar in a business context. Aren’t these people communications professionals?)
PR: No, I only just started.
PR: I’ve noticed your RFI for services and I have a pitch for you. Can I email it to you?
(Why call to ask if you can email? How weird is that!)
Me: Just tell me who the pitch is for
PR: Okay. It’s for our client, the retail voice over IP company
Me (bemused): Do they have a services arm at all?
PR (uncertainty pervading the voice): Erm … no.
(Why is it that so many of them have no idea what their clients do?)
Me: So do they belong in the feature?
PR: Well I thought maybe you would write that using their service can save your readers money
Me: (Delivers explanation of the feature’s thrust, as above)
PR: Oh well sorry then.
The result? Five minutes of my life gone on a dumb phone call. An unsatisfied client. And a relationship with a PR person forever colored by her lack of professionalism.