Hundreds of emails have come flying in.
“Dear Ewan, I see you are attending Mobile World Congress.”
Yes, I say out loud as I read on.
“I wonder if you’d be interested in meeting somebody, from some company, that you probably don’t want to really hear about?”
I do the mental equivalent of a cautionary ‘Yessssssss’.
“They’ll have some very exciting news to do with: LTE WiFi HSDPA Routers Accessories (and so on, delete as applicable)”
Time for me to say ‘Riiiiiiiiiiiight’ in my head.
“When should I schedule a meeting?”
Well, I’ve got this all wrong beforehand you see.
All very, very wrong.
It’s nice meeting people, it most definitely is. I’ve got a few folk in mind that I’ll meet — but generally, I’m afraid I’ve gone off the whole meet-as-many-folk-as-possible routine.
It’s particularly annoying when I’m paying for it.
I’m paying to take the team to Mobile World Congress. I’m delighted we’ve managed to secure press passes from the press team.
We’ve loosely got a plan.
I’m aiming to see if we can ‘shoot’ a MIR Show from the floor every day. I know Ben will have one or two companies he’s identified that he’d like to meet — and then film. Dan is quite busy at the moment and is most probably going to go flying into Mobile World Congress ‘blank’ apart from our pre-show briefing. I think that’s good news. He’s got an excellent radar for finding interesting things. I would like to point the camera at him and walk about. Folk on the floor generally look bemused when he appears on their stand in his huge, huge f-off massive boots complete with spanners and whatnot hanging off. Until, that is, he starts firing pin-point technical questions at them whilst the camera rolls.
“RUUUUBSIH,” he’ll then exclaim, slight glint in his eye. I have to smile and pretend I’m just the camera man and most definitely not the editor. No sir, no sir not me. And I’m certainly not privately sniggering as Dan rips apart your technology on camera. I’m doing my best to keep a straight face.
It’s all done positively though. Most of the time.
We should be able to snag some time with Mr Whatley and bring the whole MIR Show team together in the evenings for some events.
Speaking of which, Rob Kerr — our new resident news guru … well, he doesn’t need any pointing. He’s already sniffed out the good stuff and got it booked in. The great and the good already locked him down to interview dates and times months ago. Knowing him he’ll pop along with a pre-production N98 or something.
Which leaves me. And a huge, huge feeling of guilt.
I started Mobile Industry Review nee SMS Text News back in 2006 for a number of reasons. One of which was a total unmitigated frustration about the mainstream media. They simply wouldn’t cover any news from my companies. And we were doing good, good stuff.
Since then I have thoroughly enjoyed wielding Mobile Industry Review and all who sale in her for the little guy. Not always the little guy, but particularly those who don’t necessarily get the requisite attention from the mainstream media that their services/products deserve. Or who get idiot know-nothing journalists dismissing their concepts out of hand.
Having been to a fair few events and sat in a fair few interview/pitches where, frankly, there often hasn’t been much for me to write, I’ve come to the end of my patience.
I think my real frustration is probably the dull marketing method. Big event, hold some ‘news’ for it, release the ‘news’ — and … well the biggest issue is that the vast majority of stuff isn’t news worthy. You most probably wouldn’t want to hear about it.
Do you want to know, for instance, that there’s a new addition to the line-up of a router manufacturer’s already well documented range? Nothing new, nothing supremely stunning. Just another one added to the range. It was added last year. But the marketing and PR chaps held the ‘news’ back to ‘launch it’ at the upcoming big event. Because they’ve got to have something to say.
That is literally it. If you ask a few pointed questions to a momentarily off-guard marketing executive, they’ll drop the fact that they’ve got nothing else to talk about. Or they ‘had to have something to talk about’.
Which means they pressure their public relations chaps to sell the hell out of the ‘news’. And I do feel for them, I really do, having to punt the stuff.
I used to listen and pay attention expressly.
Until I recognised that, fundamentally I’m paying for it all. Mobile Industry Review is vanity publishing at it’s best. Clickatell (and some notable other advertisers here on MIR) contribute a substantial amount toward keeping the lights on — and for that I am eternally grateful. Indeed, if you have the opportunity to award a large amount of business to a number of mobile companies and Clickatell is one that you’re evaluating, give them the business please. They’re helping fund me being able to write this sentence.
Clickatell make no editorial demands whatsoever. They simply purchase the frontpage space here on MIR because they’d like to reach you. I’ve built up a large audience of executives and developers. Folk who routinely purchase their services. That makes sense.
As a result of Clickatell’s support — and that of the other smaller advertisers — I’m able to augment and deliver an enhanced service.
Clickatell originally purchased advertising based on the fact that — from an editorial policy — I did whatever I wanted. One moment I was talking about how ridiculous Orange was with their mobile data policies (back in the day). The next moment I was writing about this new thing called Twitter, primarily based on text messaging. Now and again we’d do some profiles of readers. Occasionally I’d talk to a PR and, if I liked the story I’d write it and run it.
So when I’m sat here feeling guilt-tripped reading releases and pitches from very nice people having to sell not-very-relevant-or-interesting stories, I feel bad. Wretched. I think about the employees that work at the company. I think about the company’s founder and find myself empathising strongly with the position I was in a few years ago when no one would write about the cool things we were doing in mobile.
And I star the email in Gmail and wind up my assistants who don’t like to see ‘full inboxes’. I star it. And I wait. And I wait. And I think ‘geez, I better write something’. And I don’t. Because I don’t want to publish stuff that I don’t rate at all. Maybe there’s an angle. Maybe there’s .. if I work hard enough, I could try and… think about the poor founder chappy. And if I don’t write anything, they’re not going to get any coverage. No one else on the planet will write about it. I know. I’ve done the research.
And repeat. That’s mostly my editorial day — now and again.
But I’ve pressed reset.
If you’re that founder — if you’re that guy or girl wanting publicity for your really really cool products and services, then I’m right here ready to help. Talk to me. Sell me on what’s cool about it. Knock me over an email overview and I’ll most probably publish it. I get super feedback from the audience whenever we publish a letter-to-the-editor style ‘here’s an update’. Like the one Steve Procter of iTagg sent me the other day.
If you’d like to meet at Mobile World Congress, email me and tell me how we can help.
But if you’re a really nice public relations person with a godawful set of boring releases, that’s it. Game over. I’m 99% not interested. And I publicly absolve myself of my internal guilt. I also setup MIR Company News — a carbon copy of Mobile Industry Review — to publish most of the press releases that we get. My assistant Michelle diligently goes through them and sticks them up. We’ll shortly be integrating the headlines into MIR, at the bottom of the front-page somewhere. Guilt absolved twice.
If you’re a really nice public relations person, please don’t take this post as a ‘screw you’. Please do talk to me. Just, if the client’s news is shit — and you know it is — don’t pitch it to me. Don’t waste my time or yours. I’m most probably interested in talking to your clients about what they’re up to though. Or doing a Q&A email interview with one of the client’s directors. Or putting them in the MIR Who’s Who. Or reviewing their app. And so on. To be clear: I’d like to cover your clients. Just not with the aid of uninspiring news and deeply irrelevant press releases. Contact me and let’s get a bit inventive with some coverage.
So what am I doing for Mobile World Congress? Right now, I’m taking an open mind, a camera and an array of laptops to seek out the cool stuff and bring you some wicked coverage that I hope will excite, inform and entertain. I am really looking forward to collating some brilliant MIR Shows.
If you’ve got some suggestions for companies you’d like to hear about, drop me a note.