Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The receiver controls

There are certain universal truths.

Joan Jett loves rock and roll.

Clifford is a big red dog.

If you are receiving something from someone who wants something from you, you get to dictate how you will receive it.

Some people do not recognize this last truth. They want to get something from another person, but they want to do it on their terms. These are the people who try to get jobs and are angered that the corporate president hasn't read their resume that was submitted two minutes ago. They're the ones who want Super Bowl tickets, as long as the Super Bowl is played during the kids' summer vacation. (I refer to North Americans here, not Australians.) These are the people who can't believe that you don't want to hear about the fantastic solar energy savings that they are offering.

I often discuss a standard called the Electronic Biometric Transmission Specification. This standard, developed by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, has one primary purpose - to dictate how state agencies will submit biometric records to the FBI. If you want to submit prints to the FBI, you have to play by the FBI's rules.

I write proposals for a living, and my ultimate goal is to get money from the agency that requested the proposal. If I want to get the money, I have to play by the agency's rules. If the agency dictates that the proposal has to be submitted on green paper in Latin, then I'll submit the proposal on green paper in Latin. (What is the Latin for "I came, I saw, I was identified"?)

Oddly enough, the people that are frequently criticized for sending things in the wrong way are PR folks. One would think that someone whose title includes the words "public relations" would know how to relate with the public properly. But there are too many instances in which PR folks fill someone's inbox or voice mail with things that are irrelevant to the receiver.

Why do they do it? Because of the payoff. If you're working for a solar company, and you cold-call one thousand people to hawk your amazing solar energy savings, there's always the chance that one will buy.

There are attempts to publicly shame the irritants - the Oregon Department of Justice received over 1,800 complaints about telemarketers in 2012 - but that isn't enough to stop the receipt of unwanted information.

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