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PR lessons: Why phonecalls still count in PR & Virus is a bad word in your subject

Mince pie? I’m eating humble pie right now. Anyway, a quick PR Friday funny for you – and a lesson for some PRs too!

Contently has a client at the moment – the very funny and interesting Michael Howell, who recently brought out his debut technothriller novel The Christmas Virus and then, not long after making a digital version available for Kindle, iPad, iPhone and so on, sold the movie rights for a very healthy five-figure sum.

As an author myself, I know that’s one of the dreams so I was delighted to be able to help him spread his good news and success.

Off goes a press release with little comeback. Strange, thinks I. I know some people got it – they replied and we’ve set some stuff up – but others, that I would have called bankers, didn’t. It was doubly strange as the book’s co-lead is a feisty female journalist, which I thought gave it some more relevancy and appeal to the press (as well as being a journalistic stocking filler).

So I makes some phone calls – very unusual for me as I know how busy journalists are – and quite a few say they haven’t got it. Sends again, no joy.

And then one very kind soul – who is getting a bottle of whisky for their trouble – finds out what it is. Due to the phrase ‘The Christmas Virus’ being in the header and text, complete with links mentioning the same (as well as some extra links) and my hosting/email coming from outwith the UK, many a journalist’s IT setup has seen this and went ‘no chance is that getting through’ and has done what good filtering software should and nuked it before the reporter ever saw it.

So the lessons are that sometimes phone calls are still very, very handy and that virus is not a handy word to have in a subject heading.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to make sure Mike’s next book doesn’t have .exe in the title… and buy a fax machine.

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