A crowd-sourced blog of painful requests that people have recieved. Oh. My. God. If you’ve ever been asked stupid don’t worry you are not alone.
By Dan Slee
We’ve all been there… the request that you’ve just received that you can’t quite believe has been made.
It takes a few seconds to work out what’s been said. And a few more to work out what you are supposed to say.
Welcome to silly and daft request hell. It is a particular place that comms, digital and PR people must face. Sometimes on a regular basis.
Around 12-months ago we asked a similar question and were bowled over by the response. So we’ve asked the same question. Think of it as therapy. A klind of group therapy where you can sit around in a circle of chairs and realise that, hey, other people have to put up with this silliness too.
Welcome to silly and daft request hell.
The Facebook cat request that prompted a change of career to the putting the whole of the newsletter on Twitter. All of it.
From a leaflet to give to headers on the dangers of hoarding to the journalist who wasn't sure where the Leeds - Liverpool canal started and finished.
We have them all. Enjoy.
Thank you to everyone who contributed.
Case study request from a women's magazine for eight different women each using a different method of contraception. Task successfully completed - including the female condom - Fran Perrow.
QR code hell part 1
Publish a page of QR codes on the web so people can scan the codes to go to another web page.
Please like chlamydia hell
Facebook page for sexual health where you can 'like' chlamydia - Mr F.
Our FOI blu-tac artwork hell
I got asked under Freedom of Information to list all the artworks of significant value owned by the organisation. As our office has one picture in it - a landscape with a cut out of Julie Andrews blu-tacked to it - this caused great hilarity.
Not too much comms hell part 1
Request: Can you promote free parking in the town centre this Saturday. But not too well. It’ll cost us a fortune in lost fees. - Nicola Weatherburn
Print out the website hell part 1
Can you bring a printed copy of the council’s website to the meeting - Nicola Weatherburn
Can we get Ant & Dec hell?
Every comms person in every organisation in the North East gets asked if they can get Ant & Dec to open it.
Request: "I need a website straight away, because people only look in the internets for information nowadays." - Anon.
Alien invasion hell
Question: What contingency plans does the council have in the event of an alien invasion? - Stephen Penman.
Financial Times hell
We - a non-quoted company - would like you to get us featured in the FT's Lex column. This is the paper’s international global finance agenda-setting column. - David Sawyer.
Light bulb hell
During a painfully slow committee meeting, a local reporter glanced up at the ceiling and then turned to me to ask: "So . . . how many lightbulbs are there in the council headquarters?" - Anon.
Here kitty, kitty, kitty hell
“Can you send an all staff email around to see if someone wants to buy some kittens?” - Anon.
Print out the website part 2
“Can you print a brochure of the website for people that don't have access to the internet?” - Anon.
QR hell part 2
“Can you put a QR code on the website homepage that links to the website?” - Anon.
Put the newsletter on social media hell
"Could we put our newsletter on Twitter?" Not a link to their newsletter, not a headline from their newsletter, their whole newsletter. On Twitter. #no - Emma.
Raising awareness hell
“Can you use social media to raise awareness of the internet?” - Rob McCleary.
Art direction hell
“Can we make the white less bright?” - Cait.
“Can we recall that approved press release sent out nationally from yesterday?” - Anon.
Not too much comms hell part 2
“I need a press release for a tenants’ conference but we don’t want anyone really to come along so can you keep it low key?” - Anon.
Not too much comms hell part 3
At 4am: “We need to get a press release out asap to all the local media re the flooding to get them to warn the public.”
Comms without comms hell
“We have agreed to an extensive communications campaign as per our committee report agreed today – yes, this is the first time I am telling you about it – does that matter?” - Anon.
Internal external publicity hell
“Can we get a full page spread in our local paper for our new internal education policy document?”
A mess about dog mess hell
“Can you photoshop dog poo onto that picture? - Anon.
Magic digital hell
“Seeing as you are the digital team, can you change the contact details on a website that we have absolutely no control over?” - Anon.
Web change hell
“Can you put out a press release to say that a regional house builder has changed their domain name from .co.uk to .com as it shows their international ambitions?” - Anon.
The most expensive typo hell
“Can we reprint a 100-page typeset document at the cost of tens of thousands of pounds because one instance of 'Diploma' read 'DIploma' with upper case 'i'?
Sharp reporter hell
Journalist: “So, the body has been found in the Leeds - Liverpool canal. Where does the canal start? And where does it end?” - Anon.
Sexy certificate hell
“I want a 100% attendance certificate. It has to look super sexy.” - Ben Capper
Mono leaflet hell
"The Board are concerned about cost of the 140,000 leaflet drop. I want to make the leaflet black and white. Can you do a paper to the Board setting out your case as to why it should be in colour? It'll need the standard Board paper cover sheet." - Anon.
How a Facebook cat changed my career hell
CEO: "Create a cartoon internet cat to interact with young people on Facebook for a school client.”
Me: "but the school are worried about appearing to endorse anonymised online interactions with teenagers".
CEO: "Just create the cat".
Me: "Ok I'll create the cat."
A week later.
CEO: "How's it going with the cat?"
Me: "Not many interactions. I think the teenagers find it a bit creepy and the school don't want to promote it"
CEO "Well, I've seen some of the posts and frankly I don't think they're the kinds of things the cat would say".
Me: "OK. I'll try more posts."
Two days later. I'm in a meeting with a client in London. Voice message. It's the CEO's PA. “Ring us immediately, the CEO wants an update on what's happening with the cat."
A week later.
Me: "Dear CEO, thank you for three wonderful years at your agency but I think the time has come for me to move to new challenges..."
Impossible survey hell
“Can you carry out a survey for options for a service when the decision has already been decided?” - Anon.
Brummie web hell
I was asked to register "all the web domains including the word 'Birmingham.'" - Andy Mabbett.
"You work in communications right? I've got a problem with my phone, it's got a crackle, can you sort it?"- Jayne Catherall.
“Can we translate the 7,000-page council website into six languages?” - John Fox.
Because a baby pic says customer service hell
"Let's do a guess the exec team member from their baby photo...to celebrate customer service awards week." - Anon.
Banner ad hell
"If I don't have budget to get a banner printed, can I just paint the words on a bed sheet and hang it from the civic centre window?" - Anon.
Bonnie Prince Charlie’s cup of tea hell
Prince Charles was coming to visit. I was asked to take half my day to make him a cup of tea and make sure it's hot. I made the best cup of tea and he didn't even drink it. - Anon.
Angela Rippon’s climax hell
"Will you buy some exhibition space at our event for over 50s? Last year thousands of visitors enjoyed the day, climaxing with Angela Rippon on the performance stage." - Anon.
"Will you help us advertise our new pothole intervention threshold?" - Anon.
Carrier bag hell
We were approached as the go-to-people for carrier bags. Because that's what a modern comms team does isn't it, branded carrier bags? - A Fire Service comms person.
Collection tub hell
Charity collection tubs. That's something the comms team should be able to organise, right? - Anon.
Awards ceremony booking hell
“Right, we need a buffet. And the town hall booking our for an awards ceremony. That's you guys, right?”
Hoarding leaflets hell
“We need a leaflet about the dangers for hoarding to give to a hoarder.” - Fire Service Comms person.
Dan Slee is a co-founder of comms2point0.