Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Don't pitch me, bro!

Ok, I admit I stole the title of this post from a flier I saw recently, but I just thought it was hilarious given the context of where it was placed (if you don't get the reference, click here). I recently spoke on behalf of General Motors at the Social Networking Conference in San Francisco, and during a break in sessions I noticed some fliers on a table with the phrase "Don't pitch me bro!" in large bold print. The flier was basically an advertisement for a company's services, but was making light of all the in-person sales pitches that happen at conferences like this.

After my presentation, I had a line of about 12 people waiting to talk to me. Generally when I speak at conferences people will come up and tell me how cool it is to see what GM is doing in social media and to say "thank you" for presenting. At this conference, however, it was one salesperson after the other with some service that would inevitably be a "good fit" for GM. Needless to say, I spent the days following the conference gently telling people we weren't looking to hire any additional services.

I've noticed that when someone tries to sell me something I shut off mentally and don't listen to a word they say. I'm not sure why this is; all I know is that I loathe being sold to.

I have to think that more and more people are getting frustrated by constant sales pitches. Take the advent of TiVo and other DVR services. Sure, there is some draw to being able to record your favorite shows, but I think there is also a number of people who like being able to skip commercials using DVRs. Satellite radio also offers commercial free radio (at least they used to, not sure if that's still the case). What about the iPod? Now you can download all your favorite music and never have to listen to a single commercial. Or look at it this way, when was the last time you bought anything from a telemarketer?

So how does this apply to PR people? I believe there is value in advertising and that it will not be going away anytime soon. Advertisers will have to adapt to people's changing attitudes regarding being sold to, but I'll leave solving this problem to the advertisers. I believe that it is our job as PR people to build solid relationships with all of our publics, and then the marketing guys and gals can do their work. With the lines between PR and marketing often being a little fuzzy, I think it's easy for some PR practitioners to start pitching product and miss the relationship-building component so key to all public relations work.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not slamming salespeople or their techniques. I know many good people in sales who are very good at their jobs; I'm just saying that I find being sold to extremely annoying.

But what about you? Are you as annoyed by sales pitches as I am? How do you prefer to find out about products?


Becky @ Project Domestication said...

Adam, I relate so much to "turning off my mind" when being sold to. There is nothing I hate more than a face-to-face sales pitch.

On the other hand, I don't think that marketing has to come "after" public relations. I think I believe in a more integrated approach, with both PR and Marketing/Advertising acting at the same time.

Thanks for the post. I always look forward to you popping up on my feed.

Adam Denison said...


Good point about marketing. I, too, believe that an integrated approach is the best, but I'm not convinced we're there yet. Some organizations seem to be a little better than others though. Sounds like content for another post!

Thanks for your comment!