I appreciate it.
I appreciate all the work that the marketing and public relations teams do for product launches and things like this.
Today’s event with 3 was billed as a ‘Christmas in July’ preview of the company’s ‘fall line’ — their Christmas line up. It’s not just TV channels or fashion/retail chains that need to prepare well in advance for the Christmas rush. Your common-or-garden operator needs to be prepared for that time, especially from a pay as you go perspective.
The opportunity to take a peer into what 3 has got stuffed up its sleeves was one that I simply couldn’t ignore. Other operators should take note. Invite bloggers.
This, I think, is the first time that 3 have invites bloggers along to this kind of thing. Sam, who oversees 3Mobilebuzz, the operator’s blogger-outreach programme, managed to secure a few invites.
The event, you see, was for the proper people. The trade press. The real journalists.
And what a bunch of total arses they are. The trade press, I mean.
I couldn’t work in mobile public relations. Geez, no. I don’t think I could bear having to brief know-nothing tossers all day.
I flatter myself that I’m a decent chappy to invite along to a mobile event. So is Rafe from All About Symbian. Or Ricky from Symbian Guru. Or Dan Carter of Worldofnokia.co.uk. Or Stefan Constaintinescu from Intomobile. We’re shit hot, frankly.
So are you, dear reader. You’re reading SMS Text News because you exhibit a degree of interest in the mobile industry that’s greater than a passing grunt.
Actually let’s be clear. I’m not flattering myself. That’s the wrong phrase to use. I’m not flattering you, either. Nor am I flattering the chaps I’ve mentioned above. We’re all good. We’re all generally enthusiastic, right? We’ve all got a thirst for knowledge about mobile related stuff. I’m a big fan of mobile. Yes I might have a go at Nokia now and again, but that’s only because I want them to be better. Fundamentally I’m a huge fan.
So I’m a brilliant chappy to have at a mobile operator launch event. But I tell you, I nearly beat the shit out of some of these mainstream media types dribbling around the event this morning.
Before I explain, let me just get the goodies out of the way for those waiting:
The Blackberry Bold launches in November. You can get an E71 (White) on the 21st of July. And you can have a Samsung Tocco or a Nokia N96 in September. No word on the Sony Experia as yet.
Now that’s out the way, let me tell you about this event.
3 did an excellent job. The theme, of course, was Christmas in July. So they’d recreated a ‘park’ complete with deckchairs, benches, plants, trees and astroturf grass in the showcase area of National Magazines’ office in Carnaby Street. The Christmas bit, as far as I was concerned, were the devices. On each bench and table there were a selection of different devices, grouped into sections. My eyes widened as I saw one hamper with what looked like a Windows Mobile Motorola next to an E71.
I said hi to Sam and to the 3 PR team. I met their Director of Handsets — a new chap who’s got his brain turned all the way up to 11. That’s the kind of guy you need running your handset strategy. This was, effectively, his baby, this event.
They’re committed PR folk. They love their products. They were all sporting wicked 3UK handsets as personal devices too. That’s a key test when you look at marketing folk. (If they don’t eat their own dog food, there’s usually an issue.)
Sarah guided me around the various stalls and sections laid out. Each had a different theme. For example, over at the picnic table were some laptops with dongles. On a bench in the corner were some high-end handsets (my eyes widened at the N96, the Sony Xperia and the Samsung Tocco). In a picnic basket was this Windows Mobile looking handset and the E71. We headed there first.
Sarah began her pitch, taking me through the background to 3’s strategy of offering all customers (PAYG or contract) mobile email, irrespective of their device. I’ll need to look closer at the system. It looks really, really smart and it’ll work with almost any device. “For example, with the Blackberry,” she continued.
I looked again. Shit! It’s the Blackberry Bold. On 3? On THREE?
We didn’t guess that. Not at all.
And so the briefing continued. I managed to get their permission to do some QIK videos and take some photographs of all the publicly available devices. Some of them weren’t for public consumption alas but I certainly respected their preferences.
Sarah took me around each section and talked in-depth about the range of back-end services and strategies that 3 is working with to support the various devices and services coming out soon.
A brilliant job.
“Listen, I need to get this out to the readers,” I said, taking out the Apple Air and plugging in the 3UK broadband stick.
“Ok, I’ll leave you to it,” Sarah said and quietly let me get on with my live blogging.
And that’s when the trouble began for me.
I was exposed to the shite. In the form of know-nothing, couldn’t-give-a-toss arses. Yes, mainstream media journalists.
I don’t mind the technology journalists who know their thing. Or who’re keen to learn.
But get this.
A chap from one publication arrived. He smiled and headed straight for the food table. Maybe he was hungry, I thought.
And he stood, next to the food table as one of the 3 PRs approached and began trying to brief him.
He asks some lame, stupid question and the PR lady does her best to smile appreciatively. First she decides to check if, as she suspects, he’s a Class A idiot with no clue about mobile.
“So, do you have a contract phone?” she says, just checking.
“Pay as you go,” he replies.
“Oh,” says the PR lady.
I would go into more detail about the inane conversation but I would incriminate the chap. I won’t name names. Or report the name of the publication. I’m astonished that they sent this chap to cover a mobile event. It’s absolutely appalling. He knew nothing. He was using a throwaway piece of shit Nokia.
He wouldn’t know multimedia messaging if the slapped him around with a wet kipper.
He took a look at the arrayed devices. I think I spotted a cornflake stuck on his knitted jumper.
He saw nothing whatsoever that interested him and did his best fake smile when the PR girl asked him if he’d ever used a mobile broadband dongle. It was clear he didn’t give a flying FOK about mobile broadband. Or know what it involved.
This is it. This is mainstream media. This guy is going to have to write a piece at some point about 3 and their new services. The PR girl tried again, asking him if he’d ever used an N95 – a clever move, I reckoned — as she could segway on to the new N96 in the corner. No. Blank looked ensued from this journalist.
He didn’t even try to take a sodding interest.
We move on.
Two girls arrive. My god. Airhead extreme. Caked in foundation and obviously from a women’s magazine of some sort.
Again, I won’t identify them. They were in and out of the launch faster than I’d written the little ‘live blog’ piece.
One of the other PR girls wandered over and welcomed them. Fake smiles from the magazine girls.
‘I’ve had enough of this,’ I thought.
I engaged them in conversation.
“Which ones are you going to feature?” I asked, motioning to the new Skypephones.
“Er,” said one of them, “Er, we don’t know… it…er…”
She looked to her friend for help.
“It, er, depends.”
“On what?” I asked.
I dropped it there. 3’s PR did their best to take these two women around the stalls and try and interest them.
This. Is. It.
I guarantee you that this girly magazine in question has readers who are ultra keen to know about 3’s products. It’s not all about makeup and blowjobs. For today’s young ladies, technology in the form of a hot mobile phone is particularly important.
Yet I just know that this magazine will do a half page bullshit piece of rubbish featuring 50 words on the Skypephone or the new N96. And that’ll be it.
And what a wholly depressing notion this is.
I sat and I watched the (apparent) cream of mainstream media descend on 3’s event and piss right off with their little goody bag.
It really is nothing short of massively annoying. Especially when the PR team have put so much work into the event.
I almost took some of these arses to task.
They were invited for a reason. Their audience deserves to know what 3, Vodafone, o2 — everyone — is up to. Their readers are trusting them to deliver.
And they’re not.
Which is why more and more people turn to specialist sites such as this one and the sites I mentioned above.
And ultimately, that’s only good news.