A wave of excitement rippled through the Dulwich Picture Gallery offices last week. A revered name was excitedly passed between nervous lips – Michael Palin was in the building!
At hearing this news I realised I could no longer put off the very important work for which I simply had to leave the office and go to the Gallery. Unfortunately, by the time I had skipped downstairs, this immensely important task had quite slipped my mind but, by a stroke of sheer coincidence, I did manage to spy the great Python sipping coffee outside the Gallery Café. This exceedingly un-cool, and slightly invasive act of absenteeism from my internly duties doesn’t fill me with pride, but was disproportionately entertaining.
I dwell on this encounter with celebrity, because at the Gallery we are currently working towards another, less spontaneous visit from a household name, a knight of the realm no less. In September, Sir Stirling Moss will be coming the Dulwich Picture Gallery to launch our Artmobile.
In preparation for this rather surreal booking, I was recently tasked with compiling a direct mailing list of motoring journalists who might be interested in reporting on the supreme legend of motor racing. I scoffed – surely too easy a task!
But as it transpires, motoring journalists come in a bafflingly broad range of shades, shapes and sizes. As I strapped myself in to the Gorkana database of journalists (another bullet point for the CV – kerching!) and naively tapped in the word “motoring”, I was bombarded with the profiles of freelance hubcap reviewers and jobbing roof rack connoisseurs, of Autocar editors and Jeremy Clarkson’s paperboy. Who from this raggedy list would be interested in coming to witness the somewhat unprecedented synergy of England’s oldest art gallery and her speediest national treasure?
It was thus I came to terms with the exceedingly nuanced art of direct mail, and thus that I spent an extended period trying to penetrate the psychological state of the kind of people that write about cars – no easy task when armed only with their email addresses.
And so this week, I have learnt an important lesson about marketing. Reach is all important, but you certainly don’t want to commit the cardinal sin – spam. I am currently the victim of an unrelenting daily barrage of PPI text messages, and so, brimful of empathy, the last thing I could wish upon any other human being is an unsolicited, undeserved spamming.
But somewhere out there, there is a motoring journalist ready to punch the air at the chime of their inbox alert. They will breathlessly open an invitation to witness the great Stirling Moss drive a small van full of paint brushes and PVA glue through Dulwich Village.
I just hope I got it right, and included them on my mailing list!