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Doesn’t ask, doesn’t get

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“Hey there. Blah company has just launched blah new product. You can contact me on the numbers below.”

That’s the gist of 90 per cent of the emails I get. Some might contain a nugget of interest – a new restaurant, say – and others definitively don’t – news of a minor revamp to the label of a popular savoury breakfast spread springs to mind – but they are among my favourite emails.

Why? Because they are not asking anything of me. You’ve done your job in sending it, I’ve done my job in giving it a cursory glance. Now I can hit delete and we can both get on with our days.

But then a couple of days later, up pops the same name in my inbox. “Just wondering if you got my last email? Be great to get your thoughts.” Now I’m feeling aggrieved. “But you never asked me anything. How was I to know you were expecting a reply?” I wail. God knows, I fail to respond to enough emails that do ask for a reply, don’t start making me feel guilty about ones that don’t.

As your grandmother might have said, “Doesn’t ask, doesn’t get.” Or was that just my grandmother? Anyway, the point is we journalists are notoriously bad at responding. If you want something – a ten page feature about your client, or just an acknowledgment of your putative pitch, make sure you ask a direct question. We might still not get back to you, but at least we’ll know we are in the wrong.

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