Someone asked me for my business card last week and I didn’t do a very good job of hiding my surprise. Business card? I thought they were a thing of the past. Certainly it was the first time I’d been asked for mine in years – and a good decade since I last carried any.
It’s not just that carrying around little pieces of card to identify yourself seems quaintly old fashioned, but that journalists always had an ambivalent attitude towards direct communication in the first place.
Basically it went like this: We liked to be able to get hold of you instantly, the moment we needed to, but we wanted you to have to go through a few hoops before you got through to us. It wasn’t so much us trying to come over all important (or not all of us, anyway), but just a good way of avoiding too much PR cold-calling.
That’s all changed now. Most cold-calling (or “pitching” as I might more kindly call it) has migrated to the email these days, which has freed up the phone for what it always used to be – a quick means of urgent communication.
There’s no substitute for getting hold of the person you need to talk to and sorting out any queries/problems there and then. And the best thing is, unlike, emails, you know when you have been heard.
So PLEASE, make sure you include a phone number, ideally a mobile, on your email sign-off. It’s very frustrating when you are on deadline and you have to trawl through whole chains of emails to find the right number.