In PR, it’s customary when you get a new business brief in to engage in extensive research on the prospective client. So, if you’re pitching for a brewery, you go out and drink a lot of their beer; if you are pitching for a retailer, you go and spend lots of money in one of their stores; if you are pitching for a gym you go and pump some iron; and if you are pitching for a condom brand…well, you get the picture.
So, when we got the chance to pitch for an online dating agency it was agreed that someone had to register and sample the experience first-hand. I had expected everyone would relish such an opportunity, but there was no such love for it actually. The married colleagues said they had no need (although I did think one did protest a little too much); lots of the young ones were already using such sites and didn’t want to suffer rejection twice; and some people said they were single by choice (albeit, not their choice.)
That left me, the sad 50 something singleton, to sign up and take one for the team and what an experience it proved to be. First things first, I needed a photo, but which one? I don’t take a good shot. I always end up looking like a grumpy, balding old man. There may be a very good reason for this, but it was hardly going to be the most helpful ‘mystery shop’ if no one replied. Casual or smart? Sporty or professional? Current or from a ‘couple’ of years back? I was getting anxious already.
Then the questions, hundreds and hundreds of them! ‘What colour are your eyes?’ which led to be having to go to the bathroom to check. And how am I supposed to answer ‘Are you attractive?’ Saying ‘No’ would kind of defeat the purpose of the exercise, surely? ‘What was the last book you read, film you saw, what is your religion, are you romantic, would you want to get married again, what do you earn a year?’ Now, not even my ex-wife ever knew the answer to that question (until the divorce…).
Next, an hour later, as many questions to be answered about my ‘perfect partner’. How young/old was she to be? What part of a woman am I most attracted to? What level of education should she have reached? Was she to be big, small or tall? What star sign? Kids or no kids? Is it important she has read ’50 Shades of Grey’ to the end? OK, I made the last one up but 200 questions later I felt confident I would find true love and happiness within a couple of hours. Four weeks later, I’m still waiting…
It seems that despite my on line assurances that while I’m not as good as I once was, I’m good once as I ever was, I am not quite the catch I thought I was. A couple of women did visit my profile, I was informed, but then quickly left without so much as a prod, a wink, a poke or a message or whatever the online courtship ritual is. Meanwhile, I was presented daily with a number of women whose enticing names – rudeawakening, cakes4everyone and hottotrot to name a few – weren’t quite matched by the reality.
So, as pre-pitch research goes, it wasn’t the most successful to say the least, but it did give me an interesting insight that love is all around, just not around me. That having been said, maybe that’s not such a bad thing. I read the other day that a Nevada woman is suing a dating website after her date stabbed her with a butcher’s knife 10 times and stomped on her head. Valentine’s Day already – I wonder what’s on Sky Sports tonight…?