A couple days ago I received a call from someone inquiring about joining the Publishers Publicity Association (of which I am the secretary). He was publishing a big book in the next few months, he said, and wanted to get some information about the organization. I asked for his email address so I could send him some membership details. He said … he didn’t have an email address (but would set up one before the publication of the book). Was I being punked? I wondered.
Then, yesterday someone called me to invite an author to a lecture series — when contacting a publicist with a request like that, you always want to *email* information that can be easily passed on to the author — and then she gave me the organization’s URL over the phone and asked (and I quote), “if I was near a computer. ” Did she think I was taking her call from the ladies?
Please someone tell me I am not in the Twilight Zone.
But this got me thinking. Even someone who loves technology as much as I do has to admit the phone has its uses. A colleague pointed out that the phone can be the better means of communication for turning a “no” into a “yes.” Or sometimes you’ve tried email without success and really need an answer. Other times, you may be looking for an email address to which to send some information, but failing to find it online, need to call to ask for the address. Of course, some issues are too complicated or too delicate or too urgent to discuss over email. And it’s always nice having an actual conversation with contacts / colleagues. What all these situations have in common, though, is an existing discussion and / or relationship that makes it unnecessary to launch into a lengthy explanation of one’s self or situation. And that, for me, is what distinguishes the canny callers from the clueless.