Recently I’ve been working on our Freshers’ Edition. This is generally the biggest of the year for Scotcampus, not just because it is the first of the new academic term, but also because it’s one of the primary means of promoting our two Freshers’ Festivals.
The Festivals (one in Edinburgh on the Meadows and one in Glasgow on George Square) are massive business and probably the largest of their kind anywhere in the UK. Last year about 16,000 freebie hungry students and young people rolled up to the Glasgow event. And who could blame them, what with the likes of Pot Noodle, Domino’s Pizza, Yo! Sushi, HMV, Urban Outfitters and loads more dishing out free goodies? Bedlam it might be, but it represents the sort of direct marketing opportunity both big brand businesses and local companies can’t get enough of.
The knock on effect for me is that, whilst I’ve always had a steady stream of weird and wonderful PR pitches to deal with, the Festivals and Freshers’ Edition seem to bring them all out of the woodwork. Everyone now believes that their client, whether they are a financial advisor or cocktail bar should be in Scotcampus and specifically this particular edition. One major drinks brand even suggested (near demanded) that we lavish a three page spread on erm . . . their music festival involvement. Needless to say I wasn’t particularly keen. Not that my insistence that I wasn’t interested always seemed to do the trick with certain PR practitioners.
My first thought was that some of these PR people were being pushy because they assumed that due to the nature of the title we were an amateur effort staffed by easily manipulated eighteen year olds and not a professional full-time team who have been putting out a paper since 2001. But it soon became clear that the most persistent, the least pleasant and the pushiest PR workers weren’t acting as such because we were any different from other media outlets – it was just the way they were used to operating. Which begs the question as to how successful they actually are in promoting their client both responsibly and effectively?
As with all editors and journalists, I have a love hate relationship with the world of the PR. Some grab my attention by sending me fantastically written press releases about nothing in particular. One or two update me every week without fail on what’s happening with them – only expecting a bite every month or so. Others only contact me when they know I’ll be interested. A few disinterested souls bury the point of their email at the bottom of their copy, lost to all but the keenest of eyes. A respectable number use flattery booze and bribery to gain attention and trust. And then there are those who won’t leave you alone, who won’t take “no thanks” for an answer, who think you are making a “big mistake” in not obliging their every request.
I know which PR types are more likely to get what they want from me and I’ll give you a hint, it isn’t the sort which won’t take no for an answer.