Something old

In today’s mail, amid the bills, solicitations and magazines, I noticed something a bit odd: a plain envelope, hand-lettered and with a name I didn’t recognize on the return address.

My interest was piqued so I opened it. Inside was a note with the generic salutation, ‘Dear Sir/Madam’, and a resume. Both were printed on faux antique stock. I was somewhat taken aback.

I decided to give them a quick read, and when I finished I thought, now what? I felt as though I’d received a quaint relic from the past that was interesting for nostalgia sake but otherwise of very little use.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I have used Canada Post to send a variety of correspondence…in the past. But it’s 2009! Why would someone trying to break into PR choose a communications vehicle that positions her as seemingly out of touch? And why would she not take the time to find out who I am before contacting me?

Joe Thornley said it’s important for young people who want to enter our profession to build relationships online. I completely agree. Many of us are very accessible here (read our blogs, find us on Twitter, Linkedin, etc.).

Reaching out to us virtually (without stalking, of course) is a good way to get to know us and get us to notice you.

It can also demonstrate your intelligence, personality and understanding of the latest tools. And then you’ll be one step up when we meet in person.


9 thoughts on “Something old

  1. Hi Martin,Having worked with students as an employment counsellor in the past, I may have an answer to your question about why she choose to mail you a resume. One thing we always told students (or really anyone for that matter) is that, because it’s so competitive, sometimes you need to do something different to get noticed. Now, you didn’t mention whether or not the person had the skills you were looking for, but you certainly noticed her right? While I do agree that having an online presence is also important, and perhaps she should follow up with an email to ensure you received her mail, ready your blog and follow you on Twitter. And yes, she definitely should have done some research, but I still think it might say something about her potential as a PR person – she really managed to get your attention this way – maybe she’s got some creative ideas about getting your client some attention too. But that’s just my 2 cents.

  2. Thanks for your perspective, Kerri. It made me think more about my reaction. And you’re right, I did notice her. And in a competitive environment, that’s important. I guess, to your point about talent and skill set, the applicant stood out, but for the wrong reasons.

  3. I would definitely agree with Kerri that students are often inundated with the notion that “getting noticed is about doing something different”. However, you’ve also got to think about your target audience – in this case, the agency you’re applying to. There are certainly agencies out there that focus more exclusively on traditional forms of communication; that being said, an increasing number are adopting new forms (i.e. social media, web 2.0, etc.). As an aspiring PR professional, your goal should be to present yourself as a trend savvy professional – someone who understands and follows new media developments. Clearly that letter grabbed Martin’s attention; however, imagine how much more effective it could have been if it simply contained a well-crafted cover letter directing Martin to a customized online portfolio or website. These sites are easily accessible through providers like weebly or and they provide a unique forum for expressing ones creativity and understanding of the social media landscape.In the world of communications, research and preparation are a huge part of success. Because there’s nothing wrong with standing out; unless you’re being noticed for the wrong reasons.

  4. As someone with one foot firmly stuck in the old school, I am a bit more tolerant of this young woman’s approach. But, from an etiquette point of view, I agree she could have personally addressed it. In a time when it’s so easy to find the names of prospective employers, using Dear Sir/Madam does not reflect well on research skills

  5. Sending a snail mail cover letter/resume to Martin got her noticed alright! It screamed she didn’t do any research on him. If she had, she would have quickly realized how well versed Martin is when it comes to social media, and would have known it wasn’t the appropriate way to get his attention. I agree with Erick (Erick, I was one of your group members at the Edelman open house) – if she really wanted to send correspondence via snail mail, a well written cover letter with a website/ online portfolio to accompany it would have been a better option.It’s true that it’s hard to get noticed these days. But, I find if you do your research, stay on top of the events that are going on in the city and are persistent with who you’re trying to reach, you will get noticed. If she really felt compelled to send something snail mail to stand out, perhaps a little thank you note after an information interview would have a been a better option.

  6. Hi all,Just to be clear, I wasn’t saying that it was necessarily the best or even most effective way to get noticed 😉 I 100% agree that she should have done her research (also something I’ve told many students who are job searching) and probably should have done something electronically to show him that she is trend-savvy and understands current communications.All I meant was that it got her noticed – unfortunately she didn’t take that opportunity and make the most of it. If only she’d known it would spur a blog post and some conversation. Darn shame she missed out by skipping over a few important details of job searching.-Kerri

  7. Hi everyone,Thanks to all of you for your thoughts and the lively discussion. (And a special thanks to Kerri for initiating it.)I guess the real challenge in good and not-so-good times is ‘how to get noticed’. And it seems like effective job searches have many similarities to media or blogger relations. You need to combine the personal touch with an understanding of what the person on the other end is looking for. And both are very important.

  8. I must say, I’ve found this blog to be very helpful. As a student currently studying PR, getting ready to unleash my resume, I can sympathize with the strong desire to stand out. In school, we are taught to be memorable by sending “thank you” cards after interviews, hand-written ones at that. Our resumes and portfolio’s are of the utmost importance. However, no attention has been drawn to the importance of resume delivery, without which, there would be no need for that hand-written “thank you” letter. One day us PR students will be applying for jobs without the help of a sponsor database, looking for interns. Fortunately this conversation has shed some light on the importance of standing out, and the appropriate ways of doing so. The insight has been most helpful. Thanks everybody!

  9. A great discussion and very helpful to us job seekers/ recent graduates out there! I feel that trying to make myself stand out in the mass of emails and calls that PR professionals get each day is very difficult. I agree with Erick that there is nothing wrong with standing out but being noticed for the wrong reasons I think can have a horrible ripple effect on someones career in the world of PR!Thanks!

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