Post 64:08 Hi PRs – thanks to my new experiment you can send me ALL THE PRESS RELEASES YOU WANT!

For more than five years, I have asked vendors and their PR companies not to send me unsolicited press releases.

I don’t really need them and I was sent so many, they became an irritant. Most are drivel.

So I decided to do without them.

I’ve had to be a bit prickly about it, but I think the experiment has worked, if only because my inbox is less full than would otherwise be the case.

One thing my inbox is full of, these days, is twice-daily mails from Twittermail, a service that takes all the @messages you receive on twitter, rolls them up and sends them as email.

I’ve created a new Twitter ID, jmpressreleases. If you want to send me a release, send it there as an @message. Sometime in the 24 hours after you send me the release, I’ll get notified about it.

Please don’t start emailing them to me. But by all means send as many via Twitter as you want. Of course you’ll need a URL to point to. And you’ll only have 140 characters with which to pique my interest.

If you want an email address to do this, ask me and I might give it out.

So … let’s see how this little experiment goes!

I expect the effort required to use this method will not result in a massive increase of releases sent to me, and that I will still junk 99.5% of them anyway. Let’s see what happens.

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Post 63:08 YouTube vs. the package

Four interesting perspectives on media today. One came from Laurel Papworth, via The Australian’s Mark Day and

I read Phil Gomes’ post about this OpEd from the SMH’s Paul Sheehan today with considerable interest.

The Mark Day piece describes how most news requires little effort for publishers to produce, but is of little value to readers. Day goes on to argue that publishers should instead pursue the news that is hardest to produce, as this has the highest value to readers and to society.

The Sheehan piece lauds social media as a more immediate and revealing source of news than MSM, which is tainted and biased.

There are problems with both articles. Sheehan, I feel, misses the point that most media consumers simply do not have the time to spend three hours searching YouTube for material that helps them to form an opinion. Sheehan did so for Sarah Palin. I didn’t, because like most people I know I simply did not have the time to do so. We’re not columnists or news wonks, so we are not paid to spend big slabs of time chasing up the sources. Either that or we are getting our kids to bed and hoping the second half of the 7:30 report explains something about the day’s events (and doesn’t waste time on a story about the racing industry, but that’s another story). Long story short, I and MANY people I know just don’t have time for the minutiae.

I turn, instead, to mainstream media for a packaged analysis I know to be flawed (objectivity is very hard to attain) but is at least well-intentioned in its efforts to inform and is easily digestable in the time available. This is where I have trouble with Day’s piece as well, because while high value news is important, the sheer volume of media and pace of change means that perspective is as valuable to many people as knowledge.

Sure, that perspective is often flawed. But for me, turning to media whose biases you share or understand is part of the fun of being a media consumer. Doing so consciously is also, I feel, an important act of self-filtering that raises the value of content a media outlet presents to you. And isn’t respecting that self-filtering, and one’s own voice and judgement, a “2.0 act”? Or should we all ignore our own opinions and the tools at our disposal and wait for MSM to deliver “quality” from on high?

Post 62:08 What PRs can learn from call centres

One of my activities is running a podcast about call/contact centres and customer service. On the most recent episode, I look at some new data from callcentres.net that suggests contact centres are getting better at generating revenue on the phone.

The thing to understand about this trend is that it does NOT refer to telemarketing. Instead, it refers to service that lets customers get what they want. Sometimes that’s an upsell. Most often, it’s a contact centre agent closing a sale when someone calls in to make an inquiry about something they are thinking of buying.

Contact centre and customer service folks attribute this increase to what they call ‘quality conversations’ in which their agents tune in to a customer’s needs, win their trust and make a sale. It takes a while for a contact centre agent to gain that skill. It takes investment from their employer. But eventually, they get good at it and the results are powerful for all concerned. Think of how confident you feel when a call centre gives you the right experience to understand how this works!

I mention this because on the three or four occasions a year I am asked to speak to PR people about how to best target me, I nearly always say that while email is very fast, it is not a medium in which it is possible to determine my state of mind, be persuasive (it is slow and who reads massive emails?) or use any form of non-verbal communication. I then suggest that, seeing as PR is often about persuading me to spend some time with a PR company’s clientele, perhaps a medium that affords the greatest variety of opportunity to do so is the most appropriate medium for PR to consider under many circumstances.

During my time in PR, I was never offered training about being more effective on the phone. I suspect, given that at least 90% of communication I receive from PRs now is by email, that my experience was not atypical. I therefore suspect PR has something to be learned from the contact centre world.

Bring on the quality conversations!