Okay, sorry but I have to call this one out. I could have titled this post "how not to work with the press". Or "just how stupid do you want your company to look"? Or "how to produce a negative traffic flow through your PR campaign". I just discovered this tonight.
A certain company I know has clearly not understood the basic tenets of PR that I tried to instill in them while there. And quoting the guy who used to write the newsletter [QUITE BADLY] before Editor Bob got an upgrade was a really bad decision. Let's dissect the section concerning the old company, just for giggles (You can click on the link above to read it in context.).
"The phenomenon reaches its fullest expression online, where e-card sites lure visitors with a smorgasbord of holidays. The most popular site, 123Greetings.com, recognizes 3,000 card-sending situations thanks to a Kolkata, India-based staff that studies American customs and trends by watching Oprah and The Daily Show on YouTube. CEO Arvind Kajaria, a former investment banker, says his team needs just half an hour to create a card commemorating a news event like the stock market meltdown (sample: "In this hour of financial crisis, you'll be in my thoughts and prayers!").
It also produces cards for some 1,500 annual events, including Remote Control Day (June 29) and Squirrel Awareness Week, which Kajaria swears are preexisting holidays: "Most are approved by the U.S. president!" But Aravind Rajendran, the company's 27-year-old senior visualizer, admits to coining a few, including Pickle Appreciation Day ("I like things spicy!") and Tell a Lie Day ("It's a habit-why not make it an event?")."
Error #1 - Only Mr. Rajendran goes to Oprah and John Stewart on YouTube to learn about American culture. That's arrogant. I find this comment offensive, as if you could actually understand my culture simply by looking at uploads from those two on YouTube. WTF.
Error #2 - Financial Meltdown comment is hokey and doesn't sound sincere, just gratuitous. Americans hate having their feelings used as a way to make money, and that's how that comment comes off.
Error #3 - The U.S. President approves most holidays? I don't think so. There are about 10 or so federal holidays. If I remember my civics from High School, back when dinosaurs walked the earth, it was Congress that ratified federal holidays... I may be wrong.
Error #4 - Admitting you lie is not a good thing at all in the U.S., unless you are a scandalized celebutante or celebutante wannabe desperately in need of more press. It not a positive character trait in any way and enabling this jerk to quote himself like that makes the company look unethical. In fact, the whole line about making up his own holidays is pretty unethical. Does not reflect well for the organization.
Error #5 - I have a hard time believing the 30 minute card development. Two words - 2008 Election.
Error #6 - What's with all the exclamation points? Are we in a hurry?
The site's Home page features a PageRank of 7. That's good. 80% of the traffic is American. That's excellent. The only problem is that while SmartMoney is good web site, it's not the best targeted for an article like this to convert traffic to visitors. The site skews almost totally male and men typically don't send cards - they pick them up. Also, there are no actual links in the article, so there is no way to link any traffic back to the site.
On the Subject of e-cards:
What's everyone doing for Valentine's Day? I'm doing nothing. My significant O will be in Kolkata then, so I'll just be home with my broke a$$ self. Not that I'm really happy about the way things are going down in Kolkata lately. The behavior of some people there has been eye-opening and not in a good way. I have to tell you if some guy sent me a Valentine's day ecard and nothing else, I'd dump him so fast, he'd have skid marks on his knees.
Not that I'm a big fan of holidays, birthdays, and especially Christmas (We don't celebrate ANY of those things in my house). Most people think it's because I'm mean, cold or just cheap, but it's not the case. In fact, I think you should celebrate the people you love every day. Back in the States, when I used to own more than two plates, I always used my best china and didn't bother having more than one set of fabulous silverware. The people I see every day should be the ones who I'm saving the best for, not for Aunty Liz who hates me anyway, so why should I try to impress her?
Whenever I had a little extra cash on me, I'd hit the Toys'R'Us or EB Games or Zumies for skateboard stuff or something else for Will. I'd hit Petsmart to get Greenies for the Greyhound. The cat wasn't much for treats, but he did have a little penchant for the 'nip. Will and I used to go out for dinner at least once a week, if not more. If I was at the mall and I saw something that I thought a friend at work would like, I'd just pick it up. Unfortunately, it's not simple here. First, shopping here is even more of a nightmare than at home because I have no transportation to get anywhere. And no money. And no friends here, well, that's not true - there's a couple of people from Kolkata, but I pretty much killed the expat thing by screwing up the fees on an event, so I don't think they'll be talking to me again...
Anyway, it's Saturday morning, another weekend is here. I'm hoping to spend time with Will working through a few "issues" and hopefully fix some of the things that have broken. He's fifteen and he's much less rebellious than I was (crap - I took off to India for a year without my family when I was 15). At least I'm here, well, sometimes... but not when I'm working the night shift and that's a serious problem. What do you do when you work in a foreign country which requires your visa to identify your sole employer? If you leave that employer, your visa is void. I was caught by the balls by my last employer who refused to do the paperwork on time forcing me to move to Gurgaon before it expired. And now, I'm caught up in a different situation. I have to work - no one else is going to feed my family. I have to work here, because my visa is attached to the company, therefore, night shift is mine for the upcoming future. And people wonder why I drink. :-)
And don't comment about now I know how NRI's feel. wah, wah, wah. I'm sick of comments like that, and I'm going to stop publishing them. This is MY personal experience in India, and if you get off thinking I'm miserable, then by all means, whack away. I can bitch and moan all I want, because this is my blog and my experience and I'm not going to defend any of it to anyone. These are my opinions. But I'm here for the long haul and I'm determined to make this work and it may not be Kolkata, it may not be Gurgaon, but I will find my place here. Six more months, I think, and things will be settled. I'm pretty sure of it.