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Sunday, February 04, 2007

Helping people to talk to each other in ways they understand

In a broad sense, my industry is called the "communications" business. This is the word on my business cards. It is also the name of most university courses that teach unsuspecting 20-year-olds to do what I do.

The communications business is a pretty broad one, and it includes jobs that, at first glance, might not seem similar.

  1. Journalist: a person who finds and reports news. This is really a "job family", as they say in the human-resources business: reporters, editors, producers, photojournalists and so on.
  2. Writer: a person who writes fiction or nonfiction. Some newspaper columnists are writers or diarists rather than journalists. This does not make them bad, just different.
  3. Public-Relations Officer: a person who helps a company or organization develop a public persona. A subset of this is "media relations", which is more specific but is still part of keeping your public image. These people are often writers. Others are experts in another field (say, women's rights) and work as spokespeople for an organization in addition to a totally different job.
  4. Marketing Officer: a person who sells a product, service or idea. Increasingly, this includes "social marketing", which uses marketing techniques to change behaviour. These people are sometimes writers, but they usually have a graphic-design or sales background.
  5. Publicist: a person who maintains the image of individual clients, like celebrities. This can be difficult if you have a client who, for example, insists on being photographed without underwear.
You may be thinking Hey, that's what I do. Welcome! Unless you are a particularly unlucky member of category 4 or 5, you are probably not a liar.

I hate liars. And I hate idiots. And I hate idiotic people who tell lies for the sole purpose of selling something to other idiots.

Which brings me to my main point.

Steve turned on the shopping channel today (why, I'll never know) and the losers who work for the network were trying to sell a projection TV with a 100-inch screen. Basically, it was one of those projectors they use in elementary schools, with a pull-down sheet as the screen. The cost was in the thousands of dollars.

I continued to mop the floor and ignore their stupid banter, until one of those idiots said something that has to be the stupidest thing that has ever been said on the shopping channel:

"Imagine a family huddled around a 32-inch TV."

OK, this is just too much. (I can already hear the philosopher king screaming about his 10-inch screen with rabbit ears.) We have a 32-inch screen, and we have never once needed to huddle around it.

I can't stand the constant sales pitches that tell me that whatever I have is not good enough. First, Colgate tells me that my vibrating toothbrush is not good enough and I need a sonic toothbrush that beeps after two minutes. I disagree. Then Mr. Clean tells me that my sponges are not good enough and I need a Magic Eraser. I disagree. Then Cold-FX tells me that my immune system is not good enough and I need to take pills every day. I disagree.

In fact, every day I am bombarded with ads that tell me my eyelashes, butt, breasts and hair are not good enough. The one thing that advertisers have not tried to make me feel inadequate about was my TV screen, and now it appears that that is not good enough, either. We did not realize how horrible we are for keeping such a tiny TV. I mean, we have to huddle around it, for Pete's sake! Where's my credit card? I need a screen the side of the wall!

If I ever consider becoming a marketer, I expect someone to smack me upside the head and remind me of this.


Torq said...

I didn't scream about it! I just mentioned that I thought you guys were being a little rediculious about the enormous TVs that you have.

Steve & Megan said...

No, I meant that you would scream at the idea that a family would have to huddle around a 32-inch screen.