Ian Skellern Bites the Hand That Feeds

Geneva Watch Days antagonist Ian Skellern (courtesy quillandpad.com)

The last time we checked in on Ian Skellern, he was telling Bulgari CEO Jean-Christophe Babin to FOAD. Quill & Pad’s co-founder was pissed at Babin for trying to exploit a loophole in Switzerland’s coronavirus regulations to lure journalists to Geneva. Fair dinkum. But now Mr. Skellern wants Mr. Babin and his fellow watchmakers to make it easier for the jobbing journo to be lazy . . .

Watch Brand Marketing And Communication Teams: Here Are 3 Relatively Easy Steps That You Can Start Taking Right Now To Maximize Your Efficiency (And Sales) may not be the world’s longest horological headline, but it is the most impudent. Make no mistake: by “maximizing your efficiency” Ian Skellern means “make my job easier.”

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The argument for a short press release text usually goes, “nobody has time to read long texts.” That’s nearly, but not quite, true.

There are a small few who will read every word you supply: journalists planning to write a feature or comprehensive article and many potential clients considering buying that watch will be apt consumers of such a text.

Both of those groups pay attention to long texts full of useful information and both are worth pandering to.

Give us lots of information and let us do opinion – we (hopefully) have more credibility (and we normally follow like sheep anyway).

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Mr. Skellern’s “we follow like sheep” comment is as close to an outright admission that the horological press are sycophantic obsequious toadies as you’re going to get.

But that’s not the reason that Ian Skellern sharpened the nib of his metaphorical quill. He’s upbraiding watchmakers for sending press releases that are too short. That force him and his colleagues to do actual work. You know, look stuff up. Call someone. Think!

All Mr. Skellern and his please-pander-to-us peers really want to do? Pass judgement on spoon-fed facts. Watered down judgement at that.

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If you want to reach a new audience, supply all the information any journalist could possibly want to know about brand history, etc. with every press release. Don’t make people search for additional information because most won’t.

DO OUR WORK FOR US! Is Mr. Skellern really so tone-deaf that he can’t see that his petulant polemic is beclowning himself and his peers? Yes. Yes he is.

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The more information and imagery brands supply, the more higher-quality (in length and knowledge) and more entertaining to read (better writing, better photography) articles will be generated.

It’s far easier for any writer to write a 1,000-word article after researching many thousands of words; scaling up from a waffling 300-word press release benefits neither brand nor reader.

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I don’t think that word “researching” means what Mr. Skellern wants it to mean. I think the correct word is “plagiarizing.” Or, to be charitable, “rewriting.”

As for his complaint about low-quality PR pics, there is an old saying: “People who bite the hand that feeds them usually lick the boot that kicks them.” I think this piece may send a little shoe leather in Mr. Skellern’s direction.

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Start writing press releases with the primary aim of conveying relevant information rather than having the brand telling us what it thinks about its own watches.

Spoiler alert: we already know that you love your own watches, let’s just take that as a given. Your opinion of your own watch has zero credibility and is therefore wasted space. 

I wonder how much credibility Mr. Skellern has with anyone who’s read this poison pen letter to the industry that puts food on his table.

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