Sloshing round the internet for the past few days has been the amusing ’20 signs’ memette. It was kicked off by Jeffrey Zeldman’s excellent 20 signs you donâ€™t want that web design project. That inspired Chris to put together his hilarious 20 signs you donâ€™t want that social media project, which, in turn, inspired Suw’s 20 signs you donâ€™t want that internal social media project. This got me thinking about it from the other end of things, as a journalist on the recieving end of clueless online marketing approaches.
Most of these are taken from real life, either from my experience or that of others. A few are based on real life, but exaggerated, while one or two are just made up because I thought they’d be funny. There’s a bit of crossover with Chris’s list – in fact, several more of his could have made it on here perfectly happily – but I tried to steer it away from the general territory of “you just have a godawful web strategy”, which would apply to both. I also hasten to point out that this isn’t some big anti-PR rant, just a little bit of mild poking. Some of my best friends work in online marketing, you know.
You’ll notice, as well, that I had to go one better than everyone else, and do 21.
- You start your pitch with the words “this story is perfect for you”. Unless your story is about robots fighting giant squid in outer space with lasers (and then having sex), I fear you have not yet achieved perfection. Sorry.
- Not only is your pitch nothing to do with any area I write about, it’s nothing to do with any area that anybody in the entire publication writes about. Yes, I wish we regularly ran coverage of developments in scanning electron microscopy. Regrettably, though, at this stage that remains a pipe dream.
- Your new video uses exactly the same idea as the one you sent me three months ago, for a completely different product.
- Pitch includes the phrases “the new Facebook” or “Facebook for X” (where X is some niche group that nobody cares about, not even the people in the group).
- You tell me that your video has been getting “quite a bit of attention on YouTube”. When I click through, it has 239 views.
- You refer to your video as “viral” when it hasn’t even been made publicly available yet.
- You refer to a single RealAudio file as a “podcast”.
- You seem to be emailing me an enormous video file. Although I am a little unclear on this, it appears that you want me to upload it to YouTube for you.
- I am required to download a piece of proprietary software nobody has ever heard of just to watch or listen the thing you have done, whatever the fuck it is.
- You have spelled the name of the product you are writing about incorrectly in the email title.
- Email title is in all caps and takes up four lines in Lotus Fucking Notes.
- You are directing my attention to a blog/Twitter account that is just a copied-and-pasted regurgitation of your press releases.
- Pitch includes the words “according to a survey conducted by [name of client]“. I know, I know. It is entirely our fault for having faithfully printed those stories every single time in the past. But please, please, let’s stop it. Now.
- Your website is a single Flash entity that takes an hour to load, contains no permalinks, and has content that isn’t embeddable or shareable in any way apart from a link pointing to the root URL.
- Your website is a single Flash entity that invites me to create my own unique content, but once I’ve created that content the only way I can discover the permalink for the results is by using the “Share this with your friends” button and putting in my own email address.
- And you rather pointedly don’t say what you’ll do with all those email addresses you’re gathering.
- You have phoned me to tell me about something you’ve put on the web. After about three minutes, we make the astonishing discovery that it’s hard to send links in a voice conversation. “Yes, it’s YouTube dot com slash watch question mark v equals upper-case U lower case p three upper case X…”
- Pitch initially came from an anonymous Hotmail account, from someone claiming to be a regular member of the public who just happened to make a funny video, which by complete coincidence just happens to raise awareness of your client. Upon closer examination, email’s originating IP address is the same as your office. You hideous, incompetent, ethics-free, spamming cock.*
- Pitch does not appear to be about anything. Leaves the impression that you are just lonely and wanted a chat.
- Because I once posted a funny video about an owl, now you think I’m the Owl Correspondent.
*Oh yes, I’ll be writing more about this one. Quite a bit more.