Sky letter misses the point

Seriously, who writes this stuff? Earlier this month I received a letter from broadcaster Sky, telling me all about how it has added more channels, “worked hard” to secure the best programming, upgraded a sports channel to High Def and lots more blah, blah, blah.

The letter was on its way to the bin, already damned as a gratuitous piece of marketing puff, before a small alarm bell rang in my mind and I snatched the missive from its trajectory of doom.

Sure enough. There it was. Lurking in pars eight and nine of the 11-par masterpiece, shirking from the viewer’s gaze like a mugger in a police line-up. Embarrassed, awkward and terse.

“Whilst we try to keep our costs as low as we can regretfully we must now pass on a portion of our increased costs to our subscribers.

“From June this year the subscription package you currently subscribe to will increase by $0.49 a week.”

This was then followed by another two whole paragraphs of blah.

My resentment at being the target of such an amateur piece of ‘positioning’ far outweighs any galling effect that a small increase in your annual fee may have

Dear Sky – here’s some free PR advice. If you’re going to write to me about a price increase, please be good enough to write to me about a price increase. Not about a whole bunch of puff with the price increase info sandwiched in the middle like the embarrassing relative in the family photo.

For a start, I’m old enough and ugly enough to appreciate a little straight talking. Secondly, I’m smart enough and sufficiently worldly-wise to recognise a ‘Kiss Me, Slap Me, Kiss Me’ piece of commercial psy-ops when I see one. And thirdly, my resentment at being the target of such an amateur piece of ‘positioning’ far outweighs any galling effect that a $25.48 increase in your annual fee may have.

I’m not saying that you should have done away with the puffery. I am saying you should have been up front with the main message – “Dear Mr Heath, we’re really terribly sorry but we’re going to have to hike your annual bill. We hope you feel this is offset by the improvements we’ve made recently, and which this fee hike will help fund. Blah, blah”.

Corporate PR 1.01: “Don’t obfuscate”. Right up there with “don’t tell lies.” Effective public relations is about building relationships. Relationships are about trust. And how much trust do you suppose your little stroke of literary misadventure engendered?

If that thing was written by a marketer, the PR people should have been involved. As they should with every single area of corporate interaction with the public. And if it was written by a PR person, that person deserves special mention as a PRat.

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