A few years ago, a videographer I’d hired told me he didn’t get the event footage I needed because he was unexpectedly delayed by an accident along the interstate. When I inquired why he didn’t exit and find a secondary road to get around the obstruction, he gave me a stunned look and said he always followed his GPS instructions. Similarly, I’ve had multiple instances recently in which I tried to give someone nuanced, inside-knowledge directions only to be cut off with “Just give me the address, I have GPS.” In several of those cases, the person ended up being delayed by a construction crew, accident, fallen tree or some other unexpected traffic snarl.
I didn’t think a whole lot about this until last week, when I was listening to a newswire service rep pitch me on their latest offering, a highly targeted service which provided extensive background on reporters and incorporated all manner of videos, photos and other multimedia assets. He finished by laughingly noting, “It’s so good some customers think they don’t even have to pick up the phone anymore!”
While that gave me pause for thought, the “Aha Moment” came that evening, when I witnessed my daughter’s planned get-together with friends – arranged solely through ultra-brief text messages – fall apart, largely because no one picked up the phone and developed “Plan B” when a snag hit.
My point? Don’t get over-reliant on technology. It’s not that I’m a raving, anti-technology Luddite – GPS units, multi-media wire releases and text services are all good and useful things. I’m just saying that no technological innovation can replace the human brain. When life throws you a curveball, you need to adjust and hit it to the opposite field. Talk to your friend, co-worker or client and figure out a new time/place/concept or whatever. Talk to the editor you’re pitching and get a real feel for what their needs and hot buttons are. And for God’s Sake, find an alternate course if the GPS- or Mapquest-suggested route is unexpectedly blocked or delayed.
Stuff happens. Curves get thrown. You have technology to deal with it…right between your ears.