Is the Cold Call Stone-Cold Dead?

This will make me sound like a crank, but I don’t answer my phone during the workday

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Like it or not, we live in a time where people are legitimately annoyed to get calls on their smart phones.

Some offices don’t even have land lines anymore, particularly if they're a fledgling startup.

I realize some will disagree with me -- although I doubt those on the receiving end of cold calls will -- but I believe the cold call has been DOA for a long, long time.

At one of my previous jobs, during training to take over from the previous editor, I was instructed to act really stressed out and disorganized whenever calls from unknown numbers ended up being a pushy publicist.

Publicists, I love ya, but I do believe you need to adapt. And do it yesterday.

This will make me sound like a crank, but I don’t answer my phone during the workday. I don’t have time to field calls from people who somehow have gotten a hold of my personal number and are abusing it to push their "really great _______" on me.

And if you’re calling to check to see whether I got the email you just sent me? It’s a surefire way to cloud not my judgment of the story but the pushiness of your firm and you individually.

Ultimately a good story will always get ink, but there are more efficient ways of getting noticed. A random number showing up on my iPhone isn’t the way. I know I’m not alone when I say this.

And when I was poking around for this post, I couldn’t find anything of great substance prior to the beginning of the millennium supporting and extolling cold calls.

Inc. has an interesting and useful guide on how to deploy them successfully, but I think it’s more about absorbing mentalities to use elsewhere in the PR process: Do your research, understand how to sell what you’re selling and, of course, follow up.

In 2011, Forbes had a profile on Jeffrey H. Thomasson, the CEO and managing director of Oxford Financial Group. He’s in his mid-50s and has never had a résumé, the story starts, and it goes on to explain that he hasn’t needed one because he was once told by an oil jobber to "make cold calls like crazy for two or three years, and you’ll never have to do it again."

Now, there’s a difference between cold calling for pitching and cold calling to get a job. But I still would say this: don’t do either. There’s a reason why many job ads say "no phone calls." It’s annoying and it’s awful presumptuous to assume your call is so important that it’s worth temporarily derailing, or at least pausing, someone else’s day.

The times have changed, I know, but we now have to text someone we know to ask whether it’s okay to call.

We might not like it, but in the words of Celine Dion: That’s the way it is.

David Wolinsky is a freelance writer and a lifelong Chicagoan. In addition to currently serving as an interviewer-writer for Adult Swim, he's also a comedy-writing instructor for Second City. He was the Chicago city editor for The Onion A.V. Club where he provided in-depth daily coverage of this city's bustling arts/entertainment scene for half a decade. When not playing video games for work he's thinking of dashing out to Chicago Diner, Pizano's, or Yummy Yummy. His first career aspirations were to be a game-show host.

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