I enjoy watching the Seinfeld episode in which Frank Costanza creates “Festivus,” a fictitious annual holiday where family and friends gather to enjoy an “airing of grievances.” Two years ago, I aired a few of my own grievances in this column and got a good response, and this month I am once again airing out some things that bug me about today's electrical market.
We want to hear about your grievances, too. In the spirit of Festivus, e-mail an industry-related grievance to [email protected] that you think would be appropriate for publication, and — more importantly — funny, interesting or would otherwise teach EW's readers something about the electrical industry. We will publish the best in an upcoming issue.
Pet Peeve #1: New product press releases inflated with unusable promotional jargon
You wouldn't believe what some P.R. companies send our way. The worst press releases often start out with something like, “The Model 100 What-Do-Ya-Call-It is a breakthrough product from industry leader XYZ Electrical Manufacturing Co…” They then drone on for several hundred words of P.R. gobbly-gook.
Note to marketing personnel: If you want to improve your chances of getting a press release published, keep it short (100 words or less for new product releases or basic personnel announcements) and to the point. Before writing the release, ask yourself five key questions: What is it? Who did it? Why did they do it? When did happen? Where did it happen? How does it work? Every journalist had these “Five Ws” drilled into their head during college and they appreciate a press release that answers as many of these questions as are appropriate regarding the company, product, service, event or person you want to promote.
Pet Peeve #2: Social media gone wild
I am looking forward to the day when the pendulum swings back a bit on the current fascination with social media. I get the value of instant communication in 140 characters or less. Twitter is a great help to Electrical Wholesaling when we want to send out a headline and a link to a supporting article of interest to readers. And I have rediscovered some old college buddies through Facebook, and think LinkedIn has great potential to build professional communities.
But it's cruel and unusual punishment to read posts on Facebook from people posing as smarter, more popular, or more successful than they really are; blatant product promotions on LinkedIn; or tweets from people who think the world wants mindless minute-by-minute commentary on their every thought, move or meal. No one is that interesting. Note to us all: In 2012, let's try to use social media with more common sense.
Pet Peeve #3: Toxic promotions that do more harm than good
I was in a Lowe's last weekend and was impressed with how much shelf space they devoted to LED lamps and how much the prices for them had dropped over the last year. I was very impressed indeed — until I saw a product display with two light boxes comparing the energy savings of a LED versus those of a compact fluorescent lamp. The watt-versus-watt comparison was skewed, because the two lamps were not being compared in the application in which they would be used (a downlight, perhaps) so they were not subject to the real-world environmental factors like heat build-up due to poor ventilation. And don't even get me started about the lack of information about the lumens each lamp produced.
But what really galled me is that the LED on display was emitting a ghoulish blue-white light that could only appeal to someone trying to duplicate the lighting in a 1950s-era Soviet interrogation room. By any measure, this display did much more harm than good to the admirable cause of LED lighting, particularly in a setting where homeowners and other potential retail customers are probably getting their first look at LEDs.
Note to lighting manufacturers — if you think your LEDs are ready for a bulb-to-bulb comparison in a retail setting like Lowe's, have few semi-impartial evaluators (wives, husbands, kids, boyfriends or girlfriends) who don't have a vested interest in the success of LEDs take a look at the light first. You don't want any ugly surprises in Aisle 14.