One of the things we do at FTR is keep retailers apprised of new tackle coming out. The upcoming March issue is no exception. We’ll have features on soft lures, wire baits, eyewear and more.
To create these roundups, I commonly reach out to more than 100 different manufacturers in each category, making three simple requests.
First, I want a description of their new product or products — something in the range of 75 to 150 words for each one. Tell me what it does, why it’s special, how many colors and sizes it comes in and maybe the MSRP.
Second, I need a hi-res digital image, so we can include a photo with the description.
Third, I have a deadline — usually a week or so after I send out my “call for materials.” I’ve learned that a week is about right. If I give manufacturers less time, they just beg for more; and if I give them more time, they forget about my email entirely.
Few manufacturers will go three-for-three on these requests, straightforward as they are.
The descriptions are usually lacking in the extreme. Too often they make outlandish statements they could never back up. Their new thing is the fastest this, the lightest that or the first something else. I have to tone it down and bring it back to reality … especially when their “new,” “revolutionary,” or “game changing” product is something I recall from the ’70s.
Word counts apparently mean nothing to many of these manufacturers, even though Microsoft Word will keep that tally for you. I ask for 75 to 150, but in the past week I had one manufacturer send me two product descriptions that were both over 700 words!
Really? Do you hate me so much you have to add to my workload?
I ask because I have to pare that text down to size … and you might not like the cuts I make.
One of my favorite description errors has to do with product names. You’d be surprised — or maybe not — at how many times manufacturers send me text that spells the product name two or even three different ways. Hard to believe, but true.
I’ll circle back and ask for the correct spelling, but if they don’t get back to me quickly, I’ve been known to pick the one I like best … or dislike least.
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you of my favorite faux pas in product descriptions. It’s a pitfall of the companies that lack a basic understanding of who they’re talking to in the pages of FTR.
FTR’s readership is retailers and industry leaders. Most of you fish, but FTR is a business-to-business publication, not a consumer publication.
So, it’s frustrating to me when a manufacturer sends me text that was obviously written to appeal to consumers.
“You’ll stay warm and dry in the new Polar Bear Suit from ABC Apparel.”
“You can see deeper into the water with the new Superman lenses from Cyclops Eyewear.”
And my favorite….
“Coming soon to a retailer near you!”
You really can’t miss the boat much more than that. But you won’t see that sort of thing in FTR because I take it out. I save those manufacturers from themselves whenever I can.
Photos are just as challenging. There is a significant portion of our industry that does not know the difference between a high-resolution image and a German Shepherd. It often takes these people three or even ten tries before getting me an image I can use — not an image they should be proud of or that displays their product effectively, but just something that’s sort of in focus and has the resolution I need for our magazine.
Labelling these photos also appears to be an insurmountable hurdle for many. “IMG_98643” and “HPMI0000666.jpg” are not satisfactory file names on any planet in our solar system.
In the name of all that’s holy, label your images so we can pair them with the text in the story. If you don’t, and if I confuse your new spinnerbait with another company’s kayak, it’s really not my fault, and I will only be pretending to listen to you complain when you see the published version.
And deadlines? Well, deadlines have long been a problem for me personally. Ninety-nine percent of it, of course, is my fault. I need to be more disciplined.
But the companies that fail to follow my instructions are making things worse. They are enabling me. They are putting matches in the hands of an arsonist.
I regularly get submissions a week or two weeks after my deadline. On occasion, I get them after the magazine has been printed and mailed.
“I was out of town and just got your email.”
For the record, email goes where you go. Being out of town is no excuse.
“Billy Bob takes our pictures and his Polaroid was busted.”
For the record, I’ve seen Billy Bob’s photos. A broken camera is not his biggest challenge. Hire a real photographer.
“We meant to respond, but then forgot about your email.”
For the record, I meant to include you, but when you missed my deadline to get free publicity, I assumed you were out of business or had recently suffered a serious head wound that caused you to lose your senses. Either way, welcome back.
And stop making my job unnecessarily tough. I’m trying to help you!