These are two careers that I have tenuous links with. I “studied” journalism in “college” (Only some will understand the inverted commas) and I have worked in Marketing for a while (I also own a tiny marketing company. I’m talking ants and fleas type tiny. Snails would crush us. Actually, flies would probably make bits of us too. And those spiders that are everywhere lately. They would destroy my poor company). Although I have an interest in both fields of “expertise”, I kind hate them both in equal measure. Please indulge me…
Journalism used to be about putting your ass on the line to deliver the news to the public. This could have been in the form of some investigative reporting that meant getting up off your ass and actually chasing down the facts. Even if you were just writing an opinion piece, it mattered, if you were striking a chord with the reading public, and possibly ruffling a few feathers while you were at it. Nowadays you have to become an investigative reporter yourself to actually find good journalism.
A while back I wrote a post on Boards.ie about a dog that had been attacked by a bigger dog in the centre of Waterford. It was a particularly horrific event. A woman was out walking with her little midget dog and her daughter, and a savage andre the giant of a creature grabbed the little thing and played with it like a chew toy. The owner of the Verminator was nowhere to be found and the poor woman was torn between chasing her poor dog and staying with her infant daughter. Everyone in earshot of the puppy’s screeches did what they could to help – which generally involved kicking as much shit as possible out of Arnold Doganigger. Anyway…I told the story as best I could, but got a couple of little details wrong in hindsight (the length of the attack and how long it took for the authorities to arrive). The Munster Express covered the story that week and took direct quotes (including the slightly inaccurate times) from my post on boards and described me as a “witness that they had spoke to”. Lies. They concocted a human interest story from absolutely nothing, never even bothered to contact me to verify a few details and if I could be used as their “witness”. Reporters seem to be constantly doing this…trawling social media for stories and then being too ashamed to actually credit where the stories came from. This is not Journalism. I don’t mean to single out the Munster Express here, they usually do have some fine pieces of Journalism, but this was an example of the opposite.
I’ll tell you what else is not Journalism: The Daily Mail and Sky News. I’m not sure if there’s a name for what they do yet…I’m contemplating the term Journalistic Pornography but that uses the term journalistic, and well that wouldn’t exactly be accurate now would it?
The Daily Mail have led the way with this…reporting on stories that they know will get the most reaction from people, stories about people raping dogs and setting fire to babies. Sensational stuff that happened in India or some deep, dark and deplorable hole in southern America. There are things happening on our own doorstep every single day that deserves to be reported. There are also worldwide atrocities that need to be documented. But no, let’s report about the guy who won the lotto and then died whilst taking a shit.
Sky News have started to follow suit…if I take a look at their app now I can see a story called “Hobbit Film blamed for 27 Animal Deaths”. Ok. Fair enough. I wonder how many “animal deaths” Mcdonalds could be blamed for.
Now, if someone from the Daily Mail was to reply to me now, I know exactly what they would say. “We only print what people want to read”. This makes me sad. Why would people care more about the woman in Montana who has 18 kids and 14 rabbits, when their own community is being ravaged by health cuts, increased taxes and decreased jobs. We, the people, are shaping the news, whether we know it or not. Yes, it would be nice if a News Outlet was to stand up and say “Tonight, we are not going to report about Lady Gaga getting fat because nobody gives a fuck about that, or at the very least, they shouldn’t. Tonight we’re going to tell you about important things. Things that actually matter.” That’s never going to happen though because the news is just another entertainment show, a posh X-factor. Some news makes it through to the next bulletin, other, better news, gets voted off.
When I started writing this blog I used to worry about what people would think of me. “Jaysus they’ll all think I’m some sort of pretentious prick with too many opinions.” I thought to myself as I shampooed but not conditioned. Then I realised that I actually didn’t give a bollix what people thought of me. It’s my name at the top of this page, I’m not forcing these opinions down anyone’s throat. And you know what, I love reading other people’s blogs – the more outrageous the better. I love people’s opinions, because it means they have one. They don’t sit on the fence and silently grumble about things that bother them. As long as it’s not a rant about how the X-factor is a fix, I love reading it. Send it my way please!
Everytime we see The Journal.ie report something that’s just disgracefully not news, we need to tell them. Same with The Mail, Sky News and any other outlets purporting to be NEWS. “Is this what you call news?” We can say as arrogantly as we like. “Get off your ass and write a real story will ya?”
Marketing is something that, in some way, we all hate. Lies and bullshit. Especially bullshit. And it comes in all different shapes and sizes.
You know on facebook when you see Night Clubs that say things like this:
MONDAY MADNESS IS HERE!!!!!!! PROMOS AND SPECIALS ALL NIGHT LONG!!!!!
We then have the right to ask them what is going to be so mad about this Monday. Will there be monkies released on the dancefloor to the sound of I’m a believer? That would be pretty mad. Will there be lesbians dressed as clowns wrestling in fudge? That would also be mad. No…it’ll just be a DJ playing Now that’s what I call shit. You should also ask what promos and specials specifically will be on…cause you know these “marketeers” just say this crap and there’s never any basis for it. The truthful status would read something like.
“We’re open tonight. There will be “music” and over priced drink. As soon as the bar closes we’ll be kicking your asses to the kerb and you can do what you like to each other out there”.
I love to see a bit of honesty in marketing, especially marketing in social media. If you treat your customers like idiots, don’t be surprised if they treat you like someone who’s…well…calling them idiots. Of course, there is a small problem with that. There are a lot of idiots out there. If you’re reading this wondering if you’re an idiot, then here’s a simple test for you. Would you pay money into a night club to see the “stars” of something called Geordie Shore? You would? You’re an idiot. And as long as there are idiots out there, then Marketing will never need to be honest, or clever.
While I’m slightly on the subject, is anyone else fed up of competitions that seemingly never have any winners? People on twitter constantly retweeting stuff to try and win an ipad, but then they forget about it, thinking they’ll never win. Which of course is true because nobody every wins. There was no ipad, there was no real competition. Oh how I hate things like that. In the same way that I hate how the Lotto can call someone a daily million when nobody ever wins it and the prizes never roll over. The National Lottery is one of the biggest scams ever perpetrated in Ireland but nobody has really copped on to it yet.
Marketing should be about making people stop and think about your product. If you have to lie to people, or over compensate, then what you’re selling is probably not good enough.
I truly believe that more honesty in the world of advertising would lead to higher sales. Remember in Miracle on 34th Street? “If you cant find what you’re looking for here, then we’ll show you where you can get it.” That’s the attitude that customers like to see. Don’t tell us you’ll refund the difference if we find a product cheaper somewhere else, because you won’t. You’re lying to us…bullshitting as always. Be up front about what you’re selling and we’ll respect you for it. Don’t be afraid to announce that you’re product is better than someone else’s. As long as you can back it up.
A shop in Waterford called Fieldmaster did an admirable thing recently. They rebranded. They tried to refresh their business in the hope of attracting new clients and customers. On the face of it, it looks like they went to one of these sickening and multi-coloured buzz word marketing companies. The kind of places where you can play table football and think outside the box. They gave them a new logo and a catch line too – “For Work, For Study, For Life”. That’s like something I’d come up with for my Junior Cert, and I wouldn’t be expecting an A. What does that tell your customer about your business? Nothing. Does it tell you that your products are going to be competitively priced and that our staff are now going to work EXTRA hard to meet all your needs? No. All it tells me is that the shop ran out of ideas so threw a bit of money at it instead. Not an ounce of original and honest thought to be found. But I wish them all the best, because they’re local.
And there we have it.