Thursday, 27 January 2011

A cold call press release

I get a lot of press releases. Many of them are sensibly related to books, science or technology, but some seem a little off the wall. In fact I got one the other day that had more than a hint of spam email about it. There was something about the way that it was phrased that suggested that English wasn't the author's first language, even though the name at the bottom implied a UK origin.

It didn't start auspiciously. 'Dear Editorial,' it said. I can just about understand 'Dear Editor', as I do sometimes style myself editor of, but this mode of address seemed to suggest I was an inanimate object.

However, this didn't matter too much if the content was spot on. What exciting new development would it reveal?

A study has shown that cold calling is becoming customary, according to a group of consumers.

What? Cold calling is becoming customary? What does that mean? Could it be that rather than say 'Good morning', the custom is now for these consumers to cold call one other?

Apparently this statement is true because companies are carrying out their direct marketing while understanding the consumer's best interest. 'How so,' I hear you ask, while marvelling at the wording. Because these companies are honouring 'Do-not-call' lists and as a result, they are increasing their reputation as direct marketers.

First of all this is a very strange statement. It seems to be saying customers who opt out of receiving cold calls think more of direct marketers because the marketers don't make irritating phone calls. But surely, if you opt out, you don't think of the direct marketers at all. Unless they are the evil kind who contact you even when you have opted out. I certainly don't find myself thinking, on a quiet, call free afternoon, 'Gosh, those direct marketers are more reputable than they used to be.' And I certainly don't think 'I wish they would start calling me.' All this really says is that not having cold callers makes you feel good. Probably not what they intended.

More significantly, there is no context whatsoever for this 'study'. We don't know:
  • What 'cold calling becoming customary' means
  • How many consumers were asked
  • What kind of consumers were asked (Did they all work for cold calling companies?)
  • Where this study took place
  • What methodology the study used
  • Or anything else that demonstrates whether the study has any value
Even TV commercials for hair products do better than this. (In the interest of fairness, the press release did have a link to a web page for, erm, another press release that did contain some data on the 'study', which turned out not to be a study at all, but rather a survey of 1430 consumers. We don't find out what questions were asked, or how this 'panel' of consumers was assembled.)

Is it just me, or is it ironic that a press release that suggests cold calling is getting better proves a particularly unhelpful unsolicited communication? Back to the drawing board, guys.

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