We are the Greatest

Sitting where I sit, you see an awful lot of press releases from companies and their PR agencies. And I don’t know if it’s these tough economic times that are leading the people who write them to become ever more desperate, but the hyperbole seems to be reaching previously unheard-of levels.
If I hear one more company telling me they are “the world’s leading” messaging company/mobile marketing agency/supplier of behavioural targeting solutions, or that they are “the global leader” in their chosen field, I won’t be responsible for my actions. Just tell us what you do folks, and stop bragging. In most cases, with little or no justification.
It’s not just the press releases either. At this time of year, anyone who is anyone in mobile is making plans to attend Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, either as an exhibitor, or just an interested spectator/networker. As a result, anyone trying to cover what’s going on in the industry is inundated, and I do mean inundated, with requests to meet some of these companies during the show. The process starts in December and builds to a frenzy during January. The most amusing pitches are the ones that arrive a couple of days before the show, asking if you’ve made any plans yet.
I’m treading cautiously this year. Last year, I agreed to seven or eight briefings on each of the two days I was there, leaving myself with virtually no time to do my own thing and dig out some of the more interesting, quirky stories. Worse still, having been pitched and agreed to meet these firms, when I got to their stand, half of them greeted me with a cheery: “What did you want to talk to us about?” “I’ve no idea”, I would answer. “Your PR told me you had some really interesting stuff going on, maybe you could tell me about that?”
At which point, more often than not, I found out that there was nothing particularly new to talk about, but that it was always good to put a face to a name, or some other such inanity.
I’m not making that mistake twice. This year, I’ve composed a standard ‘Don’t call us, we’ll call you’ type of reply which no doubt some of you reading this have been on the end of.
With this in mind, I have at least been impressed with the approach of two PRs this year, one of whom wrote to me to tell me that he had loads of clients going to the show, but that most of them would be of no interest to me as they dealt in network infrastructure and network quality testing probes and other stuff that we only write about when there’s really nothing else to write about. This made me much more predisposed to give more consideration to the two clients he thought I might be interested in meeting.
The other, perhaps slightly naïve approach, came from a PR who told me that her client “does not have a particular announcement at the show, however, I wanted to reach out in case you'd like to have a face to face meeting with a company executive and discuss some trends in the mobile space or in payments, etc.”
But I admired her honesty nonetheless, and told her so when I wrote back to decline the offer.
If you are at the show this year, say Hello if you bump into me. I’ll be the walking billboard wearing the magazine’s URL on an extra large T-shirt, if the marketing budget can stretch to it again. But don’t keep me talking too long – I’ll probably be on my way to a briefing.

David Murphy