Let Me Use It

N63389449732_6327This week, our cool clients at Alice.com had their big launch.  Alice is probably best described as a cross between Netflix and Target: it’s a subscription shopping service offering great prices and free delivery on non-perishable items like toilet paper, shampoo, etc.

Yesterday I spent a fair bit of time flogging for Alice on Twitter.  We have over 70 clients, and yet you have rarely seen me throw out more than a single tweet or two about them. 

What made Alice.com different?  They let me use it. 

Alice execs insisted that I sign up for the service as a beta user; asked me to enjoin my bride to take part in building the shopping list; followed-up to see how the sign-up process worked out for us — and then sent along the neatly-packed goodies.  Yea, it was just shampoo and such, but what I saw in my mind?  A professional and friendly service that promised fewer trips to the local Target store.

In my 17+ years in PR, I can count on one hand how many times a client made sure that the agency PR team personally used and enjoyed their product.  Granted, we do plenty of PR for enterprise software companies and other less-appropriate products, but the overall concept holds true:

When you are asking your PR agency to wow the mediasphere about your offering, wouldn’t it be better if that advocacy came from a genuine feeling of delight?

Posted on: June 24, 2009 at 8:12 am By Todd Defren
24 Responses to “Let Me Use It”


  • jonmmyers says:

    It took me a bit to get over the awkwardness of asking to “let me use it”. But your absolutely right, you have to take it for a spin!

  • George Snell says:

    There is no greater household tragedy than running out of toilet paper.

  • Kirk Hazlett, APR says:

    Once again, Todd makes a clear and logical point regarding client-agency relationships. If you don’t believe in the product, how can you make a strong case for its validity? The same holds true on the corporate PR side, having learned the hard way that you can’t “sell” something you, yourself, don’t embrace?

  • I would have a hard time representing a client that didn’t want me to use their product (if it was applicable)! If a potential client doesn’t offer it already, it’s one of the 1st things I request. I’ll sign an NDA< but let me get my hands on it!

  • Todd-
    I agree strongly that the companies we work with should encourage us to use their products, but what about agencies that have every opportunity (without client encouragement) and simply don’t? That rubs me the wrong way.

    I have to admit, I did automotive PR for 3 years and for most of that time didn’t know how to drive a manual transmission – the day I finally learned I felt like I was better at my job. Now I could talk about how it felt to drive the manual transmission vehicles TOO. As PR people, you’re right, we have to understand these things from both a corporate AND a user point of view, but I believe it’s as much our responsibility to adopt that attitude as it is our clients’ role to make the opportunity available.

  • Tricia Mumby says:

    As a client, I am really surprised that ALL clients aren’t making sure you use and love their products! Outfitting staffers with our product is the first thing we do when engaging with a new PR group.

    If someone (friend, PR, staff, designer, webguy, etc) is known to be connected to Mabel’s Labels and is clearly not using our products, I think it reflects poorly on us! If you really think your product is a “must-have” item, then it’s a MUST HAVE item! It would be embarrassing to have our PR firm talking about how great our product is, but not so great that they’d use it!

    Interesting post. The world inside a firm is fascinating!


  • Julie Wright says:

    That’s why I want more beer clients. ;-) … Great post and reminded me that I need to get my newest client to set up a tour of their technology installations for us.

    I agree that’s it’s not reflexive for clients to give the agency the benefit of the full user/customer experience. Too often the expectation is that the agency will just figure it out (we’re pretty smart but there’s no substitute for experience) or that the client’s word is sufficient (they’re pretty smart but do they want a mouthpiece or passionate, engaged communicators).

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