First thing you do when you get into work is check your email, right? I know I do. Studio’s are no different from any other workspace or sector (as far as I can gather) with their digital-signal to noise ratio, but I’ve started to begin my day with anything in the junk folder – as I can pretty-much count on finding someone wishing me well. Honestly. It’s wonderfully uplifting.

This morning I had a note that began “Richard, how’s it going my friend.” Isn’t that nice? Problem is that I have no idea – literally none – as to who this person is.

The creeping parasocial nature – condition? Delusion? The theory that people you don’t know and have never met are your friends (The Para-Society) was identified right back in the mid-1950’s, where TV or radio viewers would identify personalities and presenters “as if they were in a circle of one’s peers.” It’s exactly the defining situation many have with our present media and our para-social-media relationships – of cold emailing is quite an art.

As a potential client (now there’s a novel reversal of roles) for people selling stuff, it’s really rather flattering to be wooed with kind words about my good judgement and even-better choice of people who I can rely on for help. And it’s definitely never, ever a sales pitch because my friend sold, sorry told me so. They were really clear – “This isn’t a sales pitch.” Which is a relief. I’m careful choosing my friends and like ‘Julian’ they’d never try and force something on me that they didn’t think I’d really need.

And there’s even more good news. In the parasociety you need feel “no sense of obligation, effort or responsibility.” Phew. I’d feel bad letting ‘Julian’ down. And not just him; frankly I’d be letting myself down as well.

My advice is next time you need to write for something, or pitch to someone, try and think of them not as just an ‘audience’ but as your actual best friend ever. Not only will you sound super-sincere, but no-one ever turns down an ask from a friend.

And do keep in mind ‘Julians’ generous parting words, that he’d “…be happy to step away for a minute.” Why waste a minute? How about stepping back forever? How’s that relationship work for you, friend?

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About Richard Hill

Creative director, writer, designer, illustrator based in the UK with global project experience and consulting skills across sectors.

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