(Above image is only for representative purposes. From the #EyesForLondon stories. )
Them on email : “Please come to our event in Bombay.”
Me : “Thank you. I’d love to. I love the brand. But I’m based out of New Delhi. If you have a paid collaboration in mind, I can consider visiting Bombay to attend your event.”
Them : “Oh yes we know you’re in Delhi. Currently we’re only sending emails to and inviting everyone important and keeping people informed. We don’t have any collaboration plans.”
So you’re inviting people to an event that they know they can’t come to?
“But we’re only trying to keep everyone informed!”
You mean informed via an unsolicited email list that has no opt-out option?
Here’s an idea, how about you don’t spam whomever you consider “important”. ( I don’t know what criteria was used to decide who is “important” but I’m so curious! )
One of the approaches that some brands use to make such announcements to keep prospective collaborators informed is to send a physical invitation* with or without a freebie / gift.
The advantage of using this approach : If the collaborator is a fan of the brand, even though they will not be able to attend the event because of geography, they are likely to take a picture of the invitation and the goodies and post it on their social media, thus informing a whole bunch of other prospective collaborators and possible actual customers. While you’re at it, don’t forget to send in a note saying, “Hello First Last Name, we know you’re in X city and the event is in Y city. While we are currently not able to engage you for a collaboration, we wanted you to be a part of the brand’s celebrations and hope you like the goodies!” Do not ask that the receiver “kindly share an update on social media”. ( That is work and that better be paid. If they make an update of their own volition, you did your PR / Marketing right. )
The disadvantage of using the above approach : you will have to put in effort. Assuming you think effort is a disadvantage. Which is the main problem. The effort would involve first deciding who those “important” prospective collaborators are, also deciding what the client’s budget for such an effort will be – based on which the quality of the invitations and the goodies will be decided. Further effort will involve finding out physical addresses where these invitations would be couriered.
“You are important!” is a hollow statement when not backed by action and substance. As a prospective collaborator, I might still collaborate with your brand at a later stage but the above experience will have left a bad taste in my mouth regardless of whether it was the PR Agency that made the above communication or the brand directly. It sets a bad precedent. I am less likely to trust you and am more likely to have a watertight, longer legal document as a contracts. Brands that are professional and authentic are easier to trust and my contracts contain maybe five to six lines of legalese.
We want to work with you. We’re even happy to negotiate pricing and terms of agreement. But not easy to say “Yes.” when it is clear that you’re treating us like idiots.
(*I’d go so far as to say that don’t ever just send a physical invitation unless it’s accompanied by a gift. All physical invites – cards, letters, envelopes, get trashed – if there’s a gift, the invitation tends to get photographed with the gift and posted on social media. I know it sounds crude and even harsh – because someone designed that invitation, someone put it into envelopes, someone mailed it and effort went into it. Effort is great but pointless effort waste everyone’s time AND money. If you have to spend money, spend it on fewer “important” people who are right for your brand and on fewer but substantial collaboration invitations. )
More anecdotes and stories in the #WTFNaina series. ( These are all true stories by the way. Some written emails, some from face-to-face meetings. They have all been piling up for years now and I’ve decided to put them to use! )